From Francis OGER
@. . . . . Dear Masatsugu and Masami,
It was a pleasure for me to meet all of you at Yokohama China Town last summer, even though I had very little time because of my activities in Tsukuba. I note that you presently have full activity, even though the opposition is still 3 months ahead. Last October, I have been appointed administrator of the Sorbonne Observatory belonging to Societe Astronomique de France. At first, I had to deal with various problems: dust and pieces of spiders' webs on the lenses, intermittent failure of motors... The good point is that, in the same tower at the top of Sorbonne University, other members of Societe Astronomique de France are polishing mirrors and making their Newtonian telescopes by themselves, and we have good cooperation together. Also, we have obtained money to buy new eyepieces and a filter.
Presently, we can again show planets and stars to the public twice a week. About 10 of us do it alternatively. Anyway, we had exceptionally bad weather conditions this winter. What I mean by bad weather is just alternation of clouds without rain and clouds with rain, the last case being more frequent. So, the radio is telling everyday about floods (hanran).
The whole observatory, including the 153 mm F 15 refractor, is traditional style. There are two motors on the right ascension axis, one for following and one for small corrections. Apart from that, everything is moved by hand including the 7 tons bronze cupola roof. We access the observatory, which is 39 meters above the street, with a narrow winding staircase. A few years ago, there was fire in a room near the staircase, and the fire administration decided that only 6 persons can stay in the observatory at the same time. Probably they consider that they would be unable to rescue more people with helicopter (the terrace around the cupola is hardly 1 meter wide). Of course, several of us are interested in making observations of Mars for this opposition, including with CCD, even though the declination is quite low. I would like to know the specifications that you consider appropriate if I send you the results of these observations.
With best wishes.
(26 March 2001 email)
Francis OGER (Paris, France)