Giovanni Alberto QUARRA SACCO

Inside the dome of the Fukui City Observatory on 9 Aug 1996


t was quite recently that Giovanni Alberto QUARRA SACCO started to communicate to us: it was really on 7 Feb this year that he first wrote (faxed) to us, though his work in 1995 was already cited in CMO #167 p1766 (introduced by Paolo TANGA). We should say however that he has long been well-known among us because he has had a contact with a Japanese Publisher of astronomical magazines, and for example he was introduced in the April 1994 issue of a magazine called the Tenmon Guide in some detail with his planetary CCD work together with the presentation of the telescope he used and the dome equipped where he worked and his portraits with his wife and so on. The CCD image of Mars on 22 Feb 1995 cited in CMO #167 had also been presented earlier in the July 1995 issue of the same magazine.

He has visited Japan several times up until now, and thus it was as it were by accident that we continued to miss to communicate each other for so long.

We hear another similar accident exists between Giovanni and Donald PARKER. Gianni's parents are retired and now living at Miami in Florida, and Gianni has visited frequently Miami hitherto, but he has not had a honour of seeing Don yet. Don knows well Gianni's work and hence Don perhaps feels that it was by accident for them to have missed to meet each other so far. But Giovanni has a plan of going to Miami the coming Christmas, and surely Don and Gianni will salute soon ( Don Giovanni !! ).

In our case the "accident" was broken by another unhappy accident that Marco FALORNI passed away of lung cancer at the end of last year, and then Giovanni must have come to know the existence of the CMO found among Marco's relics documents. And this August he was to come to Japan on vacation (as well as on business) with his wife and son: His wife, Hiromi-san, is a Japanese from Kyoto, and Gianni almost was to stay in and near Kyoto, and so it must have been convenient for him to see in Kyoto the present writer (Mn) who works usually there, but just on hot summer vacation, we had an honour of enjoying to see Gianni at Fukui.




everal e-mails between us fixed the day when Gianni would arrive at Fukui, by also taking account of the vacation days of Masami MURAKAMI (Mk), to be 9 August, and on the very day MURAKAMI left Fujisawa in the morning and just after the noon reached Mikuni. We, MURAKAMI and the present writer, talked on the internet communication system of the CMO for a few hours, and then three including my wife went to Fukui to the JR station to welcome Giovanni: Takashi NAKAJIMA (Nj) also arrived by his car in good time, and we four could see Giovanni who reached at 17:35 local time by an express train from Kyoto (just one hour and half between Kyoto and Fukui).

At a Japanese restaurant. Front row, from left to right:

NAKAJIMA first found him on the platform, but it must be easy for Gianni to find the other two persons because Mk and Mn wore the T-shirts of OAA Fukui (which we used two years ago!). We could thus exchange greetings safely; one missed person of the CMO Fukui was Akinori NISHITA who was then at a different prefecture on teachers' tour, but was just to come back late in the evening. We so five dined in a Japanese restaurant near the Observatory, and talked. Gianni proved to be a pleasant and agreeable person, and he didn't show any prejudice to us, even against raw fish. To tell the truth, the present writer asked his wife on the phone the day before whether her husband can eat anything the Japanese eat. The reply was almost Yes, except Nattoh (fermented soybeans). So we chose a Japanese restaurant instead of a possible Italian restaurant without consulting him. We remember he used skillfully a pair of chopsticks (perhaps by his right hand. This is not a trivial comment: Look at which side his wrist watches are put on).



s dusk gathered, we ended the pre-party, and my wife went back to Mikuni by her own mini-car, and the remaining four astro-freaks went up to the Observatory of the Fukui City Museum of Natural History. The weather was rather good, and the 20cm ED OG first caught the planet Jupiter. The RS was near the CM, and Ganymede's roundish shadow was definitely and quite darkly seen. All were interested in the several white patches following the RS and it looked peculiar that a segment which separates the first two white spots was particularly dark and fine.

At the Fukui City Observatory on 9 August 1996.

MURAKAMI quickly started to draw the surface, and then Gianni set out to draw to our surprise (because he had been known to us as only a CCD observer). His sketch showed that he was well experienced in drawing the surface. This is however quite natural because his career is longer than the history of the CCD apparatus. Each drew twice before the RS went away. Both used the Pentax 9mm and Nikon 9mm eyepieces, but Gianni thought the latter gave a better image. (We don't use these eyepieces here for Mars, though both are no other eyepieces than those Mn used in Taipei ten years ago in Mars observation.)

By the time NISHITA (Ns) came up late that evening, just returning from Toyama prefecture, the sky had became much less transparent. Even then Mk tried to find the Hale-Bopp Comet by the 20cm ED, and succeeded: The image was however dull, just comet-like.




eeing on the first evening was not so excellent to the extent that the image was grossly unstable, but some minor details were well witnessed. Hence Gianni assured us that the GOTO made 20cm OG gave a good image if compared with some other telescopes he knew. Talking of GOTO products in conversation with NAKAJIMA, Gianni let the fact out that he once saw a running down 25cm GOTO refractor at the Taipei City Observatory, Taiwan. As well he had been informed at that time at Taipei that a strange Japanese had once used it for the observations of Mars from night to night.
On the one hand it was a miracle thing for the present writer to hear from an Italian about the Taipei Observatory on the rooftop terrace of the Fukui Observatory, and on the other it must have been the first time for Gianni to be informed that the strange Japanese was no other than MINAMI (Mn). Mn stayed in Taipei in 1986 for ten months, and in 1988 for six months.

It was in April 1993 that Gianni went to Taipei on a honeymoon with his wife Hiromi-san, and on the occasion they visited the Taipei City Observatory. One of the reasons why they chose Taiwan was because they wanted to visit Hiromi's grandmother's sister: The woman owns a famous asylum for the aged and others in an old town inside Taipei, and she herself is still respected and famous. Her name is Teruko SHI (where Teruko is a Japanese reading, and SHI is a Chinese family name) and the home is called (Ai-ai-yuan). Gianni doesn't know exactly what about to be written by the Chinese characters, but the present writer heard about them from his wife on the phone later. I heard the old woman of her relative was 86 years old, but still very healthy.

By coincidence, just ten days after the QUARRA family left Japan at the beginning of September, on a TV programme (exactly on 12 Sept) the present writer happened to see a scene where an old woman was interviewed in Taipei (interviewed by a Japanese photo-journalist) and this woman was no other person than Mrs Teruko SHI. She said she was from Kyoto and married a Chinese in 1935 when Taiwan was still under the control of the Imperialist Japan. The husband built the home during the war, but died in 1944 before the defeat of Japan. After the end of the War, Taiwan has become independent of Japan, but Teruko-san didn't return to Japan and stayed there to maintain the home opened by her husband for these more than 50 years.

The present writer talked with Hiromi-san, Gianni's wife, just on the phone but could not see her this time, but strangely could watch her grandmother' sister long on television. She looked quite Japanese and spoke Japanese somewhat in a Kwansai dialect. She said she was very pleased to be called "Teruko-san" in a Japanese way by the Japanese interviewer.




n the night of 9 August, the sky became hazy near at mid-night, and so Gianni, MURAKAMI, and the present writer were brought by NAKAJIMA's big car to Mikuni. NAKAJIMA had spent busy days because he and his colleagues in Fukui Pref were preparing a big Annual Meeting of English Teachers from all around of Japan in October to be held in Fukui, and looked very tired those days. Therefore just three, Gianni, Masami and Mn so continued to talk at Midori-ga-Oka, Mikuni sitting late at night nearly till dawn. MURAKAMI showed us some CCD images on the WINDOWS 95 of Jupiter taken recently by H ASADA, Kyoto, and Gianni also showed us several superb CCD images on the Monitor or the magazines of Jupiter, Mars and so on. We also succeeded to access to the Italian Internet Home Page of the SGPG by which we could saw the portraits of other SGPG members, and Gianni could send a message on line to a friend of his. We also heard of the situation of the Sezione Pianeti of UAI (Unione Astrofili Italiani). Gianni showed us a letter to him from Paolo TANGA, Director, to ask us something and showed an Italian sentence which told an salution to us (translated by Gianni because any of us cannot read the Italian language).

We spent similarly the second night at Mikuni, and hence we cannot discern our pleasant conversations of the night from the following night. Anyway we enjoyed good times both nights. MURAKAMI and Gianni drink. Gianni assured that the Japanese Beer was good for him. They also tried the local spirit of Okinawa called AWAMORI (sent by HIGA), and according to Gianni HIGA's OLD SAKE tasted similarly the Italian spirit called GRAPPA.

The first night (or dawn), Masami went first to bed, and the second night Gianni went to bed (sorry just Japanese HUTON) earlier than Masami. MURAKAMI talked with me about the CMO or the Internet till dawn.

On the afternoon of 10 August, we went to the Takidanji Temple, an old Japanese temple near here, to see the oldest Star Map existing in Japan. It was mapped in Japan perhaps in the 16 century referring to a Chinese document, and carries a long song called Bu-Tian-Ge made in the Tang Dynasty. We were then at Tojinboh, the seashore with a cliff near here, where we once visited with the SIEGEL family in 1993.

The sky was clear in the afternoon. But in the evening when we reached the Observatory the sky was bad though the image of Jupiter was seen through the 20cm Refractor, but no good. Furthermore it was strangely humid. So we left the Observatory earlier. This must have been because of a Typhoon which was approaching the isles from the south. We thus returned to Mikuni earlier than the day before.




ianni is international: he is quite accustomed to the Oriental living way. Gianni runs a trade company in Firenze, the name of which is IEI83, where IEI is an abbreviation of a series of English words: Italian Export Import. 83 must designate the year when the company was established (namely in 1983). He had run another preceding company from the beginning of the 1980s, and first visited Japan then just only on business only for three days. Since then he has visited Japan several times. He remarks however it was not in Japan where he first met Hiromi-san, but it was at Firenze.

Gianni was born in 1953 at Caracas, Venezuela, and went to Italia in 1961. We hear QUARRA is a rare name in Italia and sounds more Spanish, while SACCO which is the name of his farther's mother is usually common in Italia. The name of the son (born in 1995) of Gianni and Hiromi is more international: he is called Claudio Luiji QUARRA SACCO and Luiji sounds like a Japanese name.

Giovanni seems to have a lot of acquaintances all over the world. Just as an example, he met Richard McKIM when the latter visited the Arcetri Observatory in 1988 to watch Mars with M FALORNI, and in the following year Gianni visited England and saw R McKIM again and John ROGERS and others. He also saw the Northumberland refractor at Cambridge.




s the name of their astronomical group, founded in 1988, they use the name SGPG. SG is an abbreviation of the name of a town San Gersole near Firenze, and PG is "Planetary Group". They used another four letters SGPO in which O is an abbreviation of "Observatory", but recently they instead employed a new name Marco Farloni Planetary Observatory after the name of their senior who died at the end of 1995.

Recent CCD image of Jupiter by the SGPG

The MFPO at San Gersole is located in a good milieu at Chianti, just a few miles from the famous Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, and equipped with a 30cm Cass having a 7200mm focal length (f/ 24)(for Mars used in f/ 48 by use of a Pentax 14mm eyepiece) made in Italia at the ZEN Optics. This is a good telescope and housed in a glassfiber 2m dome also Italian made. They also have a 13cm f/8 Astrophysics refractor which they can bring outside, for instance, to the mountain side of the Alps. Since 1989 they pioneered the CCD planetary imaging in Italia.

30cm Cass. used by the SGPG -->

The comrades are composed by Giulio DEL ZANNA (born in 1964 in Firenze), Andorea LEO( 1965 in Roma), Sergio MANNINO (1969 in Firenze), Damiano SAROCCHI (1965 in Firenze) in addition to Gianni QUARRA.

Andrea LEO is a programmer, and recently Andrea and Gianni wrote an article in l'Astronomia based on the Jovian processed images which were obtained on the occasion of Gianni's CIDA expedition in 1990 (see below). Incidentally the name Andrea sounds like a woman's name, but it is said all Andreas are men in Italia. (On the other hand Hiromi as well as Masami is used for both women and men in Japan, but usually they are distinguished by their Chinese characters. In the case of Hiromi QUARRA, "mi" implies "beautiful" while "mi" of Masami MURAKAMI implies "self". But sometimes such a name as "Izumi" is confusing.)

The expedition to the Pic in September last year was impressive to them (P TANGA was also accompanied). They brought their ISIS CCD800 up to the Pic which contained 8 filters (California Made: ISIS = Integrated Scientific Imaging Systems). Gianni considers that the apparatus of the ISIS works well and is much better than the Lynxx in the sense it is less troublesome. They observed Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus by the use of the famous 106cm reflector.

Jupiter was just 10 degrees high above the horizon, while they were impressed with the details the CCD produced, and also by a naked eye they were able to see on the Saturnian surface several markings which were really moving by the rotation. Saturn's rings were then nearly edged-wise.

Gianni's famous expedition was also made in 1990 from late November to the early December to the National Venezuelan Observatory CIDA (Centro de Ivesti - gaciones de Astronomia) located on a mountain 3700m high at the Andes. It is equipped with a Zeiss 65cm refractor and a 100cm Coude reflector: the latter being very excellent according to Giovanni. He spent happily his birthday (1 December) there, though the sky was cloudy.

Unfortunately last year when he was at Pic, the planet Mars was not visible and could not be CCD imaged, but Gianni seems to be very interested in Mars. He has been observing it since the great apparition in 1971 and he knows well about the planet, including the method of observation as well as the terminology. Just the 1995 work looks a bit worse than the 1993 images: as we heard, it was because they were not blessed with better weather condition last apparition at San Gersole.




n 11 August, MURAKAMI was going to the mountainside near Mt Yatsu-ga-Dake to watch the Perseids, and to reach there in the evening he must start Fukui at 13:00 local time. Hence we were to get up at 10 o'clock in the morning(?). All went good, and we were fetched by NAKAJIMA in good time and went to the Fukui station. Gianni also find a train to Kyoto at near 13:10 though he had reserved another later train. And thus both person left Fukui nearly at the same time by different trains, Masami to Nagoya, and Gianni to Kyoto. NAKAJIMA, my wife and I saw them off. NISHITA was already on another trip, and later he went to Thailand.

The next day we had a phone call from Hiromi -san at Kyoto to say thanks to us, and also give us further information on her relative in Taipei.

In Japan (maybe as well as in Taiwan) we have the Bon festival to recall of the deceased and to do so the relatives gather. Gianni must have spend those days to meet a lot of relatives in Japan. He could happily watch the famous Dai-Monji-Okuribi at Kyoto on 16 Aug [ how should we say, it is like a show in the evening held every year on 16 Aug to burn a mountain side which faces to the City of Kyoto in a shape of Chinese character (meaning large) to be watched by the citizens: this fire is a kind of ceremony to send the deceased also ].

Then he went to Tokyo (maybe somewhat on business) and on 25 and 26 Aug stayed at the Niigata Pref to join the "Tainai" Star Festival to which he wanted long to attend. He did not quite remember the Japanese names of the persons whom he met, but including S NUMAZAWA he must have met several amateur astronomers there. From Taiwan also half a dozen persons joined, as we read on the Tainam Journal, though we don't know whether Gianni distinguished them from others. I think PK, an acquaintance of mine in Taipei, was included in it.

The QUARRA family left Kyoto on 2 September, and the present writer (Mn) could see him again in Kyoto the day before on 1 September. This was just to say good-bye to him, and we had a chat only for one hour and half in a coffee shop near the Kamo River which runs the middle of Kyoto. We promised to meet again after the next apparition maybe in the fall of the next year.

(Masatsugu MINAMI)

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