LtE in CMO #285

From William Patrick SHEEHAN


. . . . . . .Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 09:43:20 -0600

Subject: japan in april

 

Dear Masatsugu,

 

Exciting to follow the development of the dust storm. Mars continues to reward us with surprises. Many, I am sure, have ceased to monitor the planet. We shall see if this becomes global.

 

I have been pondering the upcoming visit to your fair shores. With my professional schedule and need also to plan for the transit of Venus, in early June, and also a desire not to overstay my welcome, I am wondering if it might possibly make more sense for me to arrive in the latter part of April -- shortly before the 23rd -- and stay for two weeks or so over the time of the meetings and to do the trip to Anamizu, then return here to prepare for the transit of Venus. I know that this may mean missing the cherry blossoms but it will be more important for me to attend the meetings than to see them this time.

I hope I shall again come to Japan for a more favorable opportunity to view the cherry blossoms.

We shall then have less time for waiting and I would rather you were not burdened with the task of looking after me for such a long time. Let me know if this abbreviated schedule is more accommodating to your needs.

 

The other thing I hope you will look at is the Lick Observatory -- two weeks on Mars drawing page that you consulted recently. The artist/photographer Laurie Hatch made some drawings of Mars as viewed through the Great Refractor after I left Mt. Hamilton. They are in color and I regard them as in a class with those of Antoniadi -- even better.

 

All my very best,

. . . . . . .Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 18:43:08 -0600

Subject: RE: japan in april

 

Dear Masatsugu,

 

This is excellent, and I will start making travel arrangements around the schedule you have described to me this weekend. I will send you the results hopefully in the next few days.

I am greatly looking forward to the meeting.

 

I know something of George Davidson's work at Nagasaki, and more of course about the efforts of the great Janssen. Why don't I plan to discuss "Janssen: the 1874 transit of Venus, Nagasaki, and the origin of cinematography." I shall be glad to coordinate efforts with your friend and colleague to California. Did I mention that Tony Misch and I put together a cinematographic tape of the 1882 transit based on David Peck Todd's plates obtained at Mt. Hamilton? I shall be eager to show this to all of you in Japan.

 

I shall check this weekend with both Tom Dobbins and David Strauss and see if they are able to accompany our expeditions. It shall be great to see as many sites as we can associated with Lowell and I hope to keep a detailed diary which we can later elaborate into a side-by-side comparison.

 

We are all worrying about the effects the dust storms may have on the impending Rover landings. I shall contact Laurie Hatch but her drawings can be accessed through the Lick Observatory -- Two Weeks on Mars web site

(http://mtham.ucolick.org/public/TwoWeeksOnMars/drawings/tabulaRosa/ ).

 

More soon,

 

With best regards, and looking forward to seeing you at your convenience in April,

. . . . . . .Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2003 09:49:45 -0600

Subject: RE: tailless cat

 

Dear Masatsugu --

 

The book on the transits of Venus is not yet but will soon be published. I shall send a copy or bring some with so I can bestow them on you and your friends in April/May. Meanwhile, Sky & Telescope just published the first of two articles I wrote for them on the transit.

 

I shall try to make clearer what Lowell wrote about the old woman and her cat.

 

This prose is quite typically Lowellian. The old lady's peculiarity (limitation) was her deafness; presumably she was the only deaf landlady he had encountered, which is why her peculiarity was personal (individual). But the cat's want of a tail was obviously not unusual in this part of Japan. The implication of Lowell's comment, "the northern branch of the family has long since discarded the tail" makes it sound as if a short-tailed cat had been selected for and bred for in this part of Japan. He may have assumed that was the case and a breed like the bobtail existed here, but unless that's so I assume it may have been customary in this part of Japan to sever the tails, whether for aesthetic or ritual reasons. He obviously takes the view that a cat is quite able to express its emotions without swinging its tail, in contrast to the dog. Most cats do have long tails, and he means by "continuation of the cat" nothing more than the usual tail extension.

 

I shall contact David Strauss and Tom Dobbins about our plans in April and especially in May. Meanwhile, our own itinerary is shaping up nicely indeed.

Ever,

 


Bill SHEEHAN (Willmar, Minnesota, USA )

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