LtE in CMO #274

From William SHEEHAN

. . . . . .Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 07:51:29 -0600

Subject: Greetings again on my return from Southern Hemisphere


Dear Masatsugu,


Hope you are well. I have been worrying about your health. Perhaps the blood in urine has been diagnosed and it is no longer a concern; I do hope it is clear.


Just back this weekend from New Zealand and Australia. (On the way over, I read one of the books David Strauss had suggested, *The Japanese Today*, which I enjoyed very much) The talks I gave about Mars in Christchurch and Wellington seemed to be well received, but I was quite pressed professionally (psychiatric consultant to a very busy unit for six weeks). Thus, though Mars was very high in the sky from the far south, I didn't have much opportunity to view it telescopically. I was with Alan Gilmore and Pam Kilmarten one night on Mt. John, and we were prepared to use the 0.6 meter telescope on Mars but the wind came up just as the planet was rising and we had to close down. Finally I caught up with the Red Planet at with the six-inch refractor at the Gifford Observatory in Wellington on July 2, with Syrtis Major on the CM. The South Polar Cap was large and bright -- the dusky kernel in the middle of the cap obvious. It looked just as Barnard rendered it in the series of sketches he produced in 1894 and published in the *Astrophysical Journal* in 1903. Hellas appeared almost as bright as the cap: at the time I thought, frost-covered. Perhaps the dust cloud of which we've now been hearing had already developed by then, I am not yet sure? I didn't have filters. That same night we did attempt to observe Mars with a spectroscope la William Huggins and Jules Janssen!


Now I'm back I'm holding my breath that the dust subsides and we don't have a repeat of 2001. Not that dust storms aren't interesting but it would be a disappointment to have Mars so large and be treated to nothing more than a citron-yellow ball. I have been granted the whole month of September on the 36-inch refractor expressly for Mars observing but there will be little point if nothing is visible.


Looking forward to seeing you during spring 2004.


You will be very busy with Mars now, however, so I will not impose further at this time.


With warmest regards, yours,


Bill SHEEHAN (Willmar, MN, USA)

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