2 0 0 9 P a r i s / M e u d o n

IWCMO Conference

Masatsugu MINAMI: A History of Mars Observations in Japan

Another talk presented at the IWCMO conference, Meudon, 19th September 2009



ow I would like here to talk about the earlier days of the OAA Mars Section which I suppose are not well known in the foreign countries. We should say this is nothing but an earlier short history of the Japanese Mars observations. I hope you will consent implicitly or explicitly how much E M ANTONIADI influenced the Japanese observers in the following.


As you know, the Tokugawa Shogunate closed the Japanese country to foreigners for three hundred years or so. During the period every genre of the Japanese original cultures, especially, art, literature, drama, or so on was quite matured without foreign obstructions, while the scientific fields in Japan remained very under-developed. Mathematics was in a higher level, but unfortunately they were forced to use inconvenient digit numerals because they did not know the Arabic figures. Traditionally, the Japanese Astronomy was largely dependent on the old Chinese one from the ancient times.


Before the advent of the modern astronomy there were few persons who watched the planet Mars through telescopes. Just we recall two persons before the Meiji Restoration (1868) one of whose names were IWAHASHI and the other KUNITOMO:


Zenbei IWAHASHI (1756-1811) constructed a lot of small refractors. He was originally an optician. Ikkansai KUNITOMO (1778-1840) was originally a swordsmith, but is known to have made a few Gregorian telescopes having a 6.2 cm speculum. Both observed the Moon and Saturn, Jupiter and so on, and the latter made a series of observations of the Sunspots in 1835. He surely spotted the satellite Titan of Saturn by the Gregorian telescope. At least there is left a record that IWAHASHI watched the planet Mars, and I once saw his drawing of Mars where a dark spot is found near the centre of a disk. Somebody says it might have been Syrtis Major!?


The Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed and the Meiji Emperor Era was restored in 1868: Fortunately Japan was free from the colonial days at those times. But even on the occasion of the 1877 great apparition, the Japanese island was still amidst of a civil war and the brilliant red star was likened to a hero who died in the war, as to which Edward MORSE who first visited Japan in the very year also alluded. Even in the case of the 1892 Mars apparition no real astronomical action occurred in Japan. Percival LOWELL first visited Japan in 1883 and finally left on 1893, but he also missed the 1892 great apparition in the US/Japan. As you know it was in 1894 that he built the Mars Hill in Flagstaff.


It was in 1888 that the Tokyo Observatory of the University of Tokyo was constructed, and in 1908, the Astronomical Society of Japan was established in Tokyo, and on the occasion of 1909 apparition its monthly Journal called Tenmon Geppoh (The Astronomical Herald) wrote about the planet Mars with several names of observers including G SCHIAPARELLI, but unfortunately I don稚 know whether any definite observation of Mars was made on the occasion.


The Oriental Astronomical Association (OAA) was established in 1920 in Kyoto by Issei YAMAMOTO (1889-1959), Professor at the Kwasan Observatory of the Kyoto University, Kyoto.


And as the great apparition of 1924 was approaching, a trend towards the Mars observations occurred. There were published a few books in Japanese on Mars. Here a very important and unforgettable observer appeared whose name was Kanam NAKAMURA (1904-1932).


NAKAMURA started his carrier as a Mars observer in 1920 by the use of a 10 cm refractor, and in the following year he was enrolled as a member of the Kwasan Observatory: In 1922 he used an excellent 18cm Zeiss-Sartorius refractor at Kwasan as well as a 25 cm Brasher reflector. In 1924, he was acquainted with an Englishman in Kob called Richard Andrews SCHOFIELD who had a 22cm Calver reflector. NAKAMURA痴 golden age was 1924 (as well as in 1926) and in 1924 he became a member of William H PICKERING痴 group. For example he received several letters from W H PICKERING such as

I shall be glad to publish a full set of six of your drawings in the report, .

I hope that six drawings may appear in Report No.23 next winter


et al.

Here is shown one of NAKAMURA痴 drawings produced in 1924 which shows the region around Solis L.


In 1925 NAKAMURA wrote a report 1924 Mars Opposition in The Heavens (OAA Journal), and in 1928 he was able to use a 30cm Cooke refractor at Kwasan.

NAKAMURA kept up with his observations for 11 years, but unfortunately committed suicide in 1932.


NAKAMURA was also skilful in making the specula and influenced the followers including Shigemaro KIBノ (1912-1990). KIBノ was also an important person who influenced the following Mars observers. Tsuneo SAHEKI (1916-1996) also corresponded with NAKAMURA, and asked to make a mirror for him but in vain because of NAKAMURA痴 death.

There was a small gap after the death of NAKAMURA, but in 1933 (at opposition on 1 March) some observations were carried out by KIBノ and Eitaro DATノ (1912-1953) et al, and at the end of 1933 a first report of the Mars Section of the OAA was published (November issue of The Heavens). Tsuneo SAHEKI started his observations this year by the use of an 8cm Newtonian (at the age of 17). In the following year Haruhisa MAYEDA (1914-1952) joined the Mars Section.


In 1935, a total of 19 members were active and 301 drawings were obtained. MAYEDA observed 140 times. In 1937, 14 members were active, out of which SAHEKI took a total of about 101 drawings by the use of the 31cm Cooke refractor at Kwasan and others. DATノ used a 26cm KIBノ reflector and obtained 35 drawings. Notable was the fact the 35 pastel drawings were produced by MAYEDA by the use of a 21cm speculum which was polished by himself. Here are shown three of his colour drawings (made on 19 May, 20 May and 1 June 1937 JST respectively from left to right).


We should add that in 1937 KIBノ wrote an excellent chapter on Mars in a book, and this was influential to the followers including Sadao MURAYAMA (1924- ) and others. Here, as usual, three tendencies were introduced how the observers at that time regarded concerning the presence of the canals. As a forerunner who denied the canals, E E BARNARD was first picked out, and ANTONIADI was the second. Full Mars maps of ANTONIADI (1930) and LOWELL (1905) were also shown in the chapter.

Here is shown the telescope of DATノ: And in the right picture the man in spectacles on the left hand side is SAHEKI, and the right-hand smiling person in the same photograph is DATノ in 1937.





As abovementioned, SAHEKI in 1937 stayed independently at the Kwasan Observatory, Kyoto, and when using the 30cm Cooke refractor he met with a superb seeing on 2 June and 3 June, and observed the extension of Sinus Gomer and the precursory state of Antigones Fons (named by S EBISAWA later). The latter Fons was explicitly shot by E C SLIPHER in the following apparition in 1939.
















On the occasion of the 1939 great apparition, SAHEKI and MAYEDA were absent because they went to the front of the so-called China Incidents. Mars Section was directed by DATノ at that time. In this year Sadao MURAYAMA first observed Mars by a 7 cm speculum at the age of 15. Just 70 years ago from now.


The apparition in 1946 visited at the first post-war time, but it was a difficult year. Just it was recorded that MURAYAMA observed with DATノ chez DATノ, and SAHEKI observed by the use of a 46 Calver telescope at the Yamamoto Observatory. SAHEKI noticed a precursory state of the Nodus Laocoontis (named by S EBISAWA), and also observed several spots around the Amazonis district.

The post-war observations were well recovering: In 1948 SAHEKI started by using an excellent 20cm mirror polished by KIBノ, and MURAYAMA got a position at the National Science Museum in Tokyo which was equipped with an excellent Nikon 20 cm refractor. However KIBノ, DATノ and MAYEDA were fallen ill and the latter two caught consumption and unfortunately soon passed away. Instead several newcomers appeared like Shiro EBISAWA and Ichiro TASAKA and a total of 11 members were active. In 1950, 17 members of the Section observed and obtained a total of 450 drawings. In 1952, Toshi-hiko OSAWA joined.


In 1952 MURAYAMA succeeded in shooting the planet by a camera, where the long curved Thoth-Nepenthes is shown. His drawings are here, produced in the same year.






At least any of you knows one of the persons here. This was taken in Tokyo in 1968, and the rhs person in the photograph is Sadao MURAYAMA.


Here also we shall show the 31cm Cassegrain owned by Sadao MURAYAMA: The mirror was polished by KIBノ.



Finally we show a portrait of Shigemaro KIBノ here (left-hand-side in the photograph: The other person is MURAYAMA). KIBノ was known as a very handsome person.




e stop here speaking about the further details of the activity but just would like to pick out three outstanding observations made by the OAA Mars Section at the post-war period: First is a set of observations of the rise and fall of the area of Nodus Laocoontis: It was found side by side just to the east of Nodus Alcyonius. Here we first show a long series of the drawings produced by Sadao MURAYAMA from 1948 to 1973. Nodus Laocoontis looks to have changed because of the sand moving from year to year, but appeared to exist quite long. These long observations were possible from any country only if anyone is conscious of the phenomenon:


The following is SAHEKI痴 R駸um of the variation of N Laocoontis up until 1963.



Next we shall touch a bit about the flare phenomenon of Edom discovered by Tsuneo SAHEKI in 1954 on 1 July: The phenomenon was once in the spotlight by Tom DOBBINS and Bill SHEEHAN in 2001, as you well remember. This is the original note of SAHEKI. The flare appeared suddenly whitish bright (at 13:15 GMT) and 5 seconds later it returned normal.










Incidentally we show the observational styles of SAHEKI in 1956 who was using his favourite 20cm Newtonian @ f/10.



Thirdly, we cite here the event of the 1956 Noachis great dust cloud: The drawings here are the ones made by MURAYAMA. A cudgel-like dust disturbance is clearly shown. The location was designated by the dotted lines. Unfortunately it may not be easy to see the dotted boundary on the screen. Two drawings are separated by two hours.


He also succeeded in taking pictures of the dust on TriX Pan films. These are taken just after the drawings. Note that the brightening of the dust looks different from the visual observations. I suppose this kind of difference also is given rise to in the case of the ccd images. And the third one was taken a few days later where the dust was expanded.






The yellow clouds or dust clouds had hitherto been observed several times from the older days, but this 1956 case showed a unique important significance in that first trapped was the initial state of the dust disturbance. We should say this was the first that caused a rise of consciousness concerning the emergence of the dust storm. However it was still inadequate in the sense of chasing the development of the early dust. Hourly observations of the dust storms have been scarce, and it has sometimes been conceived that any storm was like a Hurricane or Typhoon. Even now this problem is still pending. It is unfortunate that any spacecraft does not pay attention to the morning side of the Martian surface, as to which I already cautioned in the preceding talk.

Finally I would like to mention two more Japanese observers. One of them I mention is an excellent observer who appeared like a great comet but disappeared soon. His name is Reiichi KONNAマ (Rei-ichi KON-NAマ, 1950-, n Reiichi HORIGUCHI), whose Mars observations

are known no more than those made in 1971 and 1973 to me.


In 1971, the planet was at opposition on 10 August, and was closest to the Earth on 12 August with the maximal diameter 24.9 arcsecs. It was on 22 September that the great Noachis dust storm was entrained. As to KONNAマ drawings in 1971 it should be remarked that the descriptions of the fine structure of the perimeter of the south polar cap are interestingly detailed in addition to the quite superb brushing of the dark markings. The photo-images are made by the use of the stacking method of several excellent images to make the grains to be finer.

I certainly remember that he chased the 1973 dust storm also near Solis L. I hear however he quitted observing Mars since 1975. As shown here his drawings and photo-images in 1971 appear still superb and are now a kind of legend in Japan.


His 25cm F/7.6 mirror was the one made by KIBノ. He used an Or 4mm eyepiece to magnify the images.



Last but not least we should not forget to mention about Shotaro MIYAMOTO (1912-1992) whose activity was unique and important: He was a full professor of Astrophysics of the Kyoto University. He was active once when he was young as a member of the OAA Planetary Sections and observed visually the planet Jupiter and so on, but began to observe the planet Mars intensively at the Kwasan Observatory from 1956 to 1973 for 17 years until the year of his retirement. The motivation was caused by his original witnessing of the 1956 dust emergence and this implied that the experience of the witnessing of the dust emergence fully powered the interest at least in him in the meteorology of the planet as a long-life work. In 1971, he obtained a total of 571 drawings and in the last year, 679 drawings. Both years, the dust clouds were furious.

I shall close for now, and thank you very much for listening. This is the ending mark in Japanese (and Chinese).

Masatsugu MINAMI, Director, the OAA Mars Section, Japan

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