Sam WHITBY #209

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #209

@. . . . . This morning I returned from a night spent in Alexandria, which is near Washington, DC. My wife was sent there by the government and at the government's expense in order to take a class. We took the opportunity to have an evening to ourselves, and we browsed in some interesting shops and enjoyed some good seafood at one of our favorite restaurants. Having intended to go on to Washington and visit the Smithsonian museums, I had to leave early to come back to take care of Tyler. His Grandmother, of sound German stock, has for once in her life become ill and unable to keep Tyler.
  I think that she will be OK soon. So, anyway, I am back and rested up. It seems likely that all your messages arrived safely. It has only been in the last few days that some of my old messages disappeared with the change in servers. The last time we changed I lost even more material, some of which, such as Colleen's art work, was irreplaceable.
  The STB markings on Jupiter have been the subject of much discussion here. Someone, Rik Hill I think, has suggested that the darkest of the spots may have been due to an impact from a surviving remnant of Shoemaker/Levy 9. John Rogers has said that the lack of a nimbus around the spot argues against the previous idea. It does not seem that there can be proof one way or another.
  I have recently noted very bright rifts in the NEB, which are more interesting to this observer than tiny spots in the STB.
  My plan has been to start observing Mars around the last of November, but I may start earlier. It would be very interesting to catch the NPC at this Ls. I will pass on your encouragement to Randy.
  I am sorry you have had blood pressure and dental problems recently and hope that you recover soon. My blood pressure is low like a baby's, but a dentist will soon get a chance to work on me.

  Thank you for your message. It is always good to hear from you. Please give my regards to your team of Mars observers.

(20 Oct 1998 email)

@. . . . . An ornithological note that may be of interest: yesterday, right after I wrote to you, I walked to the garden in the back yard and heard a loud flutter of wings coming from the tulip tree. Assuming it was a flock of birds in migration, I paid little attention. Then I noticed that the noise continued but that I saw only two or three birds in that direction. As I looked closer, I realized that the source of the noise was a red-tailed hawk which had caught and begun to eat a starling. The red-tailed hawk is a somewhat under-appreciated meat eater from the sky, a big bird, not exactly the same but of the same order of magnitude as the better known eagle. Although its meal was rather gruesome, I count myself lucky to have been able to witness that creature in action in my own yard.
  Another local note: last night we had an earthquake, 3.3 on the Richter Scale. This I slept through, unaware of it. My only personal connection with the fault line that runs through Virginia is that it has created some nice rapids for canoeing on the Nottoway and Meherrin Rivers, where I fished as a young man. I have yet to feel one of our relatively feeble earthquakes and would be happy to miss out on that experience.

(21 Oct 1998 email)

@. . . . . Thank you for your message. I have seen the updated web page, which is interesting and attractive as always. With Mars drawing nearer, I hope to have more observations and Mars-related comments to add to or replace the usual rambling nature notes. On the morning of Oct 25 I observed Mars and saw the NPC clearly defined and with a dark boundary, but no other albedo features were seen with certainty.
  I will be pleased to give some thought to a suggested name for the museum in Fukui. Please let me think it over and perhaps talk it over with one or two teacher friends at school tomorrow, and with luck we will come up with some useful suggestions. Having just awakened after falling asleep while trying to get little Tyler to go to sleep, I find myself drawing a blank right at this moment.
  Thank you for passing on the ALPO alert. It is apparent that I need to re-establish links with one or two people over here. With internet communications the way they are, I usually read astronomy news fairly quickly anyway, even if somebody deliberately tries to exclude me, and I have no reason to believe that I was deliberately slighted or excluded this time. I need to write to Dan Troiani and let him know that I am still interested. The same goes for Jeff Beish, who has written me several very interesting and informative letters in the past.
  Let me confess that I have not had a good view of the longitudes near the new oval BE on Jupiter. CCD images on the internet seem to indicate a bright oval-like area preceding BE. The region, according to notes on the net, has been difficult to observe due to the low contrast of the markings, and different people have reported the same region different ways.
  I will try to get back to you soon with some suggested names.

(28 Oct 1998 email)

@. . . . . Hi, You probably have already gotten the news, but it came to our attention that Don Parker discovered a new white spot in Saturn's EZs on October 31. It was at approximately 11 degrees, sys 1. Images are on the ALPO page, Saturn Section Clear skies to all,

(2 Nov 1998 email)
ALERT: Observers are encouraged to watch Saturn's Southern Equatorial Zone (EZs) for a small white spot reported by Don Parker on October 31, 1998. The spot's center transited Saturn's CM at 03:22 UT on October 31, 1998. Thus the longitude of the spot (SystemI)is 11.1 degrees, (System III) 102.8 degrees. Observers are encouraged to watch the planet and submit any observations of this feature to the ALPO Saturn Section. Regards, Julius
( from ALPO web-Site )------(Ed)

@. . . . . Thank you for CMO 208. Thank you also for the confidence you expressed in asking my opinion of a name for the new museum.In regard to the museum, it may be sufficient to only to make a few suggestions. It seems unnecessary to call it a science museum, for, to Americans anyway, museum indicates science, and to call it a science museum would be redundant. You will no doubt somewhere be able to find in America a science museum (in Richmond in fact), but it would still be redundant to call it that. Something more specific, say an engineering museum or astronomy museum, might be more logically called that. Also, the word "juvenile" has to Americans the unpleasant connotation that comes from the frequent use of the term "juvenile delinquency". Even when used in a more positive sense, it tends to mean childish, rather than just pertaining to childhood. I think something on the order of Fukui Museum for Children might be what you are looking for, Fukui Science Museum for Children if you really think that is better. Of course, "children" might be just as hard for Japanese to pronounce. I hope these suggestions will be useful, and I will add to them if the Muses suggest more to me. Please let me know what you decide and how the planned museum turns out. . . . .
  Parker's new spot on Saturn should be coming into view soon this evening, if the seeing is good. I stopped by the observatory on the way home and glanced at Jupiter. The seeing was horrible. Maybe it has improved since then.

(5 Nov 1998 email)

@. . . . . Thank you for the message. I am glad that you enjoyed the pictures of the RAS telescope. Our observatory director, Jim Petty, has done a great job. I have been especially impressed with the improvement in the scope's drive, which has been so good that I have longed for a micrometer to use at the observatory.
  As an elder among state employees, I have accumulated a lot of leave time and have been notified that I must use about two weeks of the leave or lose it. Having already had vacations this year, I do not need more of a vacation right now. I have arranged, therefore, to work those two weeks at the hospital, for some of its full-time employees need to take their vacations. I will work in the evening, when I am most needed and so I can keep Tyler during the day and give his grandparents a break. This arrangement will be unfortunate for Jupiter observation, but it may free me later to observe Mars.
  I have noticed that an owl has been hunting on the grounds of the juvenile prison. Yesterday I enjoyed seeing bluebirds resting on the barbed wire around the compound. The Canada geese seem to have moved on. Earlier in the year we could sometimes see fiftty or more grazing on the lawn. One of my boys told me that he woke up and saw two deer right outside the fence. It is good to think of nature still existing in spite of that facility in that area.

(11 Nov 1998 email)

@. . . . . Any more news about the Leonids will be welcome. I saw part of the fine display that occurred back in 1966. In spite of all the disadvantages of farm life, there were advantages, such as being up in time to see the Leonids. I also saw Comet Ikeya-Seki in '65, before anybody had to tell me about it. With no email in those days, it sufficed to be able to look up in the sky and point the great comet out to my Grandfather as we went to feed the pigs.
  I was not able to observe last night. The sky was cloudy here until very late in the night. I spent the evening in the hospital room with Tyler anyway, for he has had viral pneumonia. He seems much improved, and he was released from the hospital late this afternoon. It is frightening whenever one's child is ill, but Tyler has been a very good patient who has charmed everyone he has met.
  Saturn's new white spot has eluded me so far. My new friend from the RAS, Sam Bruce, looked for it also without success. It may be that the spot is just too hard to see with a telescope much smaller than Don's.
  I wrote to Dan Troiani and asked to be included among those receiving the ALPO alerts, etc., and he kindly sent me several reports. Contrary to what some may have thought, I have not by any means left ALPO.
  Trying to sleep with Tyler last night left me worn out, so I will go now.
  Good luck with clear sky for observing Mars. I will send you some observations soon.

(17 Nov 1998 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :