WWW: E-mail:

NOVA NOTES, the newsletter of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, is published bi-monthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Halifax Centre. Material for the next issue should reach the editor by February 10th, 1997. Articles on any aspect of astronomy will be considered for publication. "Letters to the Editor" or to our resident expert: GAZER are also most welcome. Contact the editor at:

David Lane, 4-26 Randall Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3M 1E2


Phone: (902) 443-5989 (home) (902) 420-5633 (work)


President's Annual Report

Obituary: Nathan Cohen

Awards Presented at the Annual Meeting

Meeting Report - November 96

Meeting Report - December 96

Librarian's Year-End Report by Clint Shannon

Starlab Report by Mary Lou Whitehorne

Happy Belated Birthday: John Flamsteed by David Chapman

St. Croix Observatory Status Report

Notice of Meetings and Other Stuff





My first year as President of the RASC, Halifax Centre has been eventful! The highlights for the Centre this year (in my opinion) were the unexpected appearance of Comet Hyakutake, the rapid pace of construction of the St. Croix Observatory, and the 10th Anniversary of Nova East, our annual star party. I do not want to steal the thunder of my fellow executive officers, so I will leave them to provide further details in their own reports. (Ed: Gee, just where are those reports???)

Other important activities included summertime public observing at Dollar Lake Provincial Park and on the Halifax Boardwalk, plus two total lunar eclipses, one observed and one not.

There were a few departures this year. In late December, member Nathan Cohen passed away suddenly following a stroke. He was a vibrant member of the society and will be sadly missed. An obituary follows my presidents report. Rosemary Freeman, the National Executive Secretary, retired after many years of service to the RASC. Marie Fidler, who once held that post, passed away and Mary Grey, a Past National President of RASC, also passed away.

On a happier note, Diane Brooks of the Halifax Centre (although located in Ottawa) received the Burke-Gaffney Award for the best article in our Nova Notes newsletter, entitled "The Astronomy of Native Americans". Dave Lane received the Chant Medal for his authorship of the astronomical software package "Earth-Centered Universe". Ralph Fraser and Shawn Mitchell received the RASC Membership Certificate for their contributions over the last several years.

The most recent Nova Notes contained a list of all those who have donated to the Observatory project. To them, I give thanks. I will take this opportunity to encourage other members to add their donation to this worthy project, even if it is a small amount. Pat Kelly is the man to see.

Most recently, we were all disappointed by the unavoidable cancellation of the February 1998 Solar Eclipse Expedition to the island of Montserrat, to which Roy Bishop had devoted so much energy. It seems that volcanic activity there refuses to subside, and the island is barely habitable. Our thanks go out to Roy for making the effort! (In one of his classic understatements, Roy summed up the experience with the words "We live on an active planet.")

We had a wide spectrum of speakers this year:

17 Nov 95 Annual General Meeting and Members' Night
15 Dec 95 Mary Lou Whitehorne "The Cow Jumped over the Moon"
20 Jan 96 Doug Pitcairn "Stellar Evolution for the Beginner"
16 Feb 96 Dr. Derek Richardson "Shoemaker-Levy 9: A Cosmic Rubble Pile"
15 Mar 96 Dr. Gretchen Harris "Is our Galaxy Older than the Universe?"
19 Apr 96 Dr. Bob Hawkes "Meteors from Outside the Solar System"
17 May 96 Members' Night- Comet Hyakutake
21 Jun 96 Dr. Larry Bogan "Principles of Orbit Determination"
20 Sep 96 Dr. Roy Bishop "Tides"
18 Oct 96 Ivan Smith "Curiousities of the Calendar"

Next year, we look forward to actually using the observatory site at St. Croix, perhaps even to observe Comet Hale-Bopp, the next big attraction. This is surely an exciting time for the RASC Halifax Centre, and the credit is all due to the dedicated team of executive members and active members who devote so much of their own time and energy to the club. Thank you all!



Nathaniel ("Nat") Cohen (1926-1996), popular member of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, passed away on December 20th at the age of 70. A mechanical technologist by trade who served with the British army in his younger days, Nat acted as treasurer of the Halifax Centre and always maintained a strong interest in its activities. The medallions awarded at the 1993 Halifax General Assembly were produced by his extremely capable hands. A speaker in the Alfred Hitchcock vein with high standards for the quality of his own and others' work, Nat frequently regaled RASC members with his varied experiences at purchasing observing equipment from well-known suppliers.

His professional manner was no better exemplified than during a formal talk to the Centre a few years ago, following which he calmly made his way to the hospital for an emergency bypass operation! Long a proponent of the view that "a comet isn't a comet unless it puts you in fear of your maker," Nat was finally satisfied in his quest to view as many of Nature's astronomical sights as possible by the appearance of Comet Hyakutake last spring. The thoughts of Halifax Centre members will almost certainly be with Nat as they view Comet Hale-Bopp this year. Nat also took a strong interest in Jewish community affairs and was intrigued by calendar systems - his life spanned the Hebrew years 5695-5757. Some of his greatest pleasures came from teasing other Centre members and from asking "impossible" questions of visiting speakers. It seems more than coincidence that his passing occurred in close conjunction with that of Carl Sagan.


Membership Certificates: These awards are given to members as a polite, public "Thank You" in recognition for service rendered that has significantly contributed to the work of the Society and/or a centre.

Shawn Mitchell: Shawn is a recent arrival to RASC Halifax Centre, having joined in membership year 92/93; however, he almost immediately moved to the Executive Council, where he has served ever since, first as Librarian, then as Second Vice President. Shawn has achieved much in the latter position, raising significant funds for the centre through the sale of promotional materials. He also has had a major impact on the image of the Centre, designing and arranging for the production of t-shirts for various events.

He is a key volunteer at the Halifax planetarium and other public events involving astronomy. This year in particular, as head of the Observatory Committee, he has played a leading role in getting this project "off the ground". Although many individuals have donated effort and money to the St. Croix Observatory, all agree that the project would not have advanced to the stage it has without his enthusiasm and know-how. Halifax Centre feels that the end of this first observatory-building season is an excellent time to recognize Shawn Mitchell by awarding him the Membership Certificate.

Ralph Fraser: Ralph is a long-time member of RASC Halifax Centre, and has maintained an excellent attendance record, which is especially important to all because of the special service he provides. Ralph is a Life Member of the Society, and has spent several years on the Executive Council as Secretary. Perhaps more importantly, for some time Ralph has held the unofficial title of "Cookie Chairman", regularly and reliably providing members and guests at monthly meetings of the Centre with cookies, cold drinks, and coffee to lubricate the lively social gatherings which close out the evening. On the rare occasions that he is unavailable, he always warns us well in advance so we might arrange a substitute. The Halifax Centre recommends that Ralph Fraser receive the Membership Certificate in recognition of his faithful involvement in Centre activities and for his dependable contribution to the Centre's convivial social ambiance.

NGC Certificate: This award is presented to an individual for observing (without the aid of a computer-controlled telescope) all 110 deep sky objects in the "Finest NGC" list published in the Observer's Handbook. This award, the first for the centre, was presented to David Lane.



Having read the latest issue of NOVA NOTES, it was interesting to see that both Blair MacDonald and Larry Bogan had taken turns as meeting reporter. At the November meeting, both were noticeable by their absence - fear of being fingered or still recovering from the experience - I have not been able to make a positive determination. Forty members were present at the meeting, including long-lost former president Darrin Parker. He was sporting a new look - a mustache beard combination that would look equally smart on a Klingon, Vulcan or Romulan. It was a delight to chat with him after the meeting, and he promises to make it up from "the shore down theyah" more often. It seems that he has been doing a lot of observing with some young people, one of whom was came to the meeting with him.

Our president, the eminent Brother Dave Chapman (D12 on the list of the RASD, the Royal Astronomical Society of Daves) warned those present repeatedly that the annual meeting would be held during the meeting. He hoped that we would be able to finish it as quickly as the Registry of Joint Stock Companies would allow and added that it would not be terribly painful if all the officers reports were kept very, very brief.

In light of the upcoming Christmas season, the good brother noted that Sky Publishing has greatly reduced its shipping costs to Canada and that it was now safe to order items from them without having to take out a second mortgage on your house! Having ordered several items in the recent past, he had written to them on the subject. After getting the new catalog and posting a note on the RASC email list server to thank them for the improved rates, he was rather surprised to have received a phone call from the company president! It seems that their accounting office had also noted the problem, probably due to the lack of orders from Canada.

Another interesting announcement, although disappointing to some, was that the group trip which Roy Bishop had been organizing to view the 1998 solar eclipse in Montserrat had to be canceled. It seems that the volcano which produced the island in the first place, has been erupting of late, making most of the island inhabitable. One has to wonder whether the island will even be there in 1998! Thanks must go to Roy for all of the effort that he made in preparing for the expedition. He had to make a winter trip to the Caribbean island to scout out locations. Members may recall some of the gorgeous photos that he had taken from inside his room, while the surf whispered in the distance. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it! For those who still wanted to go, Mary Lou had brought along some brochures for the Calgary Centre's expedition to Curaçao. As of this writing, several centre members have signed on to the Calgary trip.

Instead of subsidizing part of the membership fee for youth members the centre will be providing them with a copy of the new edition of the Beginner's Observing Guide. The only problem was that our copies had not yet arrived, so we did not even have one to display. This should be corrected by the next meeting.

While these announcements were being made, David Lane was busy working in the background trying to connect together some non-Macintosh "plug-and-pray" computer equipment for a later demonstration.

Shawn "One Finger" Mitchell announced that the roll-off roof at the new observatory had been tested and, at least for the section that was already on metal rails, he had been able to push it with just one digit. He even had several other members who backed him up in the claim. It appears that we will not have to install any type of mechanical system to move the roof at all.

At this point, our honorary president, Dr. Murray Cunningham, was asked to come forward and present Shawn with a Membership Certificate in recognition of his work for the centre, especially the observatory project. Another certificate was presented to Ralph Fraser, in recognition of his long-standing efforts in ensuring that there is always something to eat and drink after every meeting. While it is not as well-known as many of the other positions that the centre has, the cookie chairman is probably one of the most important, and most over-looked. There was one last award to be presented. Dave Lane received his Finest NGC Certificate. Rumors have it that he is considering moving into a house since his collection of RASC awards is now filling most of his apartment!

We now moved into the annual meeting. There were brief reports from all of the members of the executive who were present, some more brief than others. Ian's treasurer's report contained a new features, Messier objects M111, M112 and a few other numbers that appeared to be slightly fuzzy. His report was not the final version and he hopes that when it is published in NOVA NOTES, the picture will be more in focus. The librarian's main concern was overdue books, and Santa Claus will not be the only one making a list and checking it twice. If you have any overdue books, you might find yourself on Clint's list to get a lump of coal.

Next were the annual elections for the executive and, surprise, surprise, it was done by acclamation once again! There was a bit of a cabinet shuffle and two new faces: Greg Spearns, who will be taking over as our new librarian, and Robin Clayton who will be a councilor. The full slate is as follows:

First Vice-president Blair MacDonald
Second Vice-president Clint Shannon
President David Chapman
Secretary Mary Lou Whitehorne
Treasurer Ian Anderson
NOVA NOTES Editor David Lane
National Council Rep Patrick Kelly
Observing Chair Shawn Mitchell
Librarian Greg Spearns
Councilors David Turner, Paul Gray, Robin Clayton

Larry Bogan was elected to the position of auditor for another year. Actually, as he was not at the meeting it was rather hard for him to decline the nomination!

The last item of the annual meeting was a motion to take the money which had been set aside for the annual science fair award and return it to the general account. The award will continue, but based on past entries, the amount can be handled by our regular revenue and the money that had been set aside will be used to aid in the completion of the observatory. This motion to make the change was carried, I believe, unanimously.

Onwards and upwards, the annual meeting was brought to a close and we moved on to the member's night portion. First up was Roy Bishop with some interesting slides. The first one was a beautiful picture of sunrise over a seascape. Dave (Lane that is, D6 in the RASD) was about to correct what appeared to have been a slide that had been put in sideways but Roy had to stop him. The slide was supposed to be in sideways! Roy noted that in that orientation it was obvious that there was no right-side up in space; that the Earth rotates so that the Sun comes into view, and; gravity is a very powerful force, holding up all of that water 'sideways'! Roy continued with a review of the year's astronomical highlights, including Comet Hyakutake, the conjunction of Venus and the Moon, the second lunar eclipse (the one that was not clouded out) and the recent solar eclipse. Oh, you missed the solar eclipse? Since only about 1% of the Sun's was covered at "totality", you may be forgiven. Roy did manage to photograph it and under the caption of "From the Sublime to the Ridiculous" showed a slide of totality from the recent annular eclipse followed by one of the one percent wonder.

Roy also showed a series of slides of the arcs, halos and other apparitions that appeared around the Sun on the afternoon of October 8th. The appearance at Avonport was not nearly as spectacular as that seen in Halifax, but the images were still remarkable. Roy closed out his presentation with a series of shots of the Full Moon or crescent Moon, all taken during twilight.

Up next was Dave Lane, who was able to get started right away as he had gotten all of the equipment hooked up properly the first time around. Not bad for a technician! He showed us some of the major improvements that he had made in the Earth Centered Universe program over the last year. Some of the new features include the addition of the Hubble guide star catalog (featuring billions and billions of stars); the shape, size and orientation of galaxies and clusters; a toolbar for common commands and digitized images of a lot of galaxies and other objects.

David Turner was next with a very humourous talk on one of his pet peeves, the use of jargon at meetings and how it affects people just getting into the hobby. It must be something that comes to editors, because I also tend to cringe at some of the mutilation that I find inflicted on the Queen's English. Dave (D12) gave a list of jargon often heard at meetings, along with what it meant to a novice. A partial list is given below:

Jargon As Heard by the Novice
RASC Isn't this the astronomy club?
GAGawd awful? Gee, Eh?
BOGDoesn't he play baseball?
ECUWe see you too!
10-inch Dob Don't you wish!
36-inch Cass Hmm, wouldn't mind meeting her!
Dumbbell Are you talking to me?
Checking the Crab Talking to David Turner

Last up was David Chapman who gave a short follow-up to a talk from a previous meeting on the calendar. He gave a brief explanation of how the days of the week came to be in their present order. It was an interesting topic and covered such things as the Chaldean ordering of the planets (based on apparent speed in the sky, the fact that the Romans split the day into twenty-four hours, but there were only seven celestial objects to go around and the invasion of England by Vikings. You should have already figured out that if astronomy is involved in a naming system it could not possibly be simple.

The meeting then broke up and we all went to enjoy some of Ralph's award-winning refreshments!




President Dave-2 (Chapman) opened the meeting by pointing out that this was the time of St. Lucy's Festival in Europe celebrating the earliest sunset of the year. Although the winter solstice occurs on December 21st, giving the shortest daylight hours of the year, it is not the date of the earliest sunset or the latest sunrise. The latter event will occur on January 2.

Other announcements were:

Outgoing, observing chairman, Paul Gray, presented his last "what's up":

The MAIN PROGRAM was a multi-parter similar to last month but this time providing information for the beginning amateur astronomer.

Dave Lane started by showing us a video he had prepared from Hubble Space Telescope animations. We saw computer simulations using Hubble Space Telescope images of Mars and Neptune, rotating at various angles and time lapse views of the expansion of gas clouds in the Crab Nebula. A computer simulation of the 6 BC conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, a possible explanation of the Christmas 'Star,' was also shown.

Mary Lou Whitehorne entertained us with a series of slides of Sidney Harris' cartoons with astronomical themes. This provided many a chuckle and haw. Then in the same theme she shared her images of one of the work parties at the St. Croix observatory. Actually, I was envious of not being there on such a beautiful day to help finish the St. Croix observatory.

Dave Chapman provided advise on use of binoculars for the beginning amateur. Virtually every variety of celestial object can be observed with a good set of binoculars. Dave pointed out that he found a large fraction of the Messier objects with them before turning to a telescope for the dimmer ones. Just a few of his hints were: Choose lightweight, well-built binoculars with 7x to 10x magnification and lens diameters of 40 to 50 mm. Don't get zoom or fixed focus binoculars. One should always test the optical quality before buying.

Clint Shannon offered his advice on the best books and magazines for a beginning amateur and provided a printed copy of the list. Some of his items were: Magazines - Sky and Telescope, Astronomy, and Sky News were the obvious choices. Books - Several by Terry Dickinson including 'Nightwatch', 'Universe and Beyond', 'Summer Sky', 'Other Worlds', and 'Backyard Astronomy', 'Explore the Night Sky with Binoculars' by Chandler, and 'The Beginner's Observer Guide' (BOG) by Leo Enright (RASC). Sky Atlases: 'Bright Sky Atlas' by Wil Tirion and 'Peterson's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets'.

Dave Chapman presented his list of 10 Deep Sky Objects for the beginner [Pleiades, Orion Nebula, Beehive Cluster, Hercules Globular Cluster, Lagoon Nebula, Trifid Nebula, Omega Nebula, Wild Duck Cluster, Andromeda Galaxy, and the Double Cluster in Perseus]. He also explained the need for dark skies far away from city lights and without a bright Moon in the sky.

This ended the main topic for the night and we then spent some time discussing the idea of a major telescope for the St. Croix Observatory.

Dave Lane started off by showing his home video of the approach to the observatory and a tour of the finished warm room and roll-off observatory. Dave will have to refine his video camera technique to win awards for documentaries but the video showed the essence of finding and using the observatory. We have a heater, tables and chairs for comfort in the warm building with plans for sanitary facilities for those over-night stays.

The roof is a marvel of engineering and one can roll it off with the push of one finger. I hope no-one tries reach record speeds with our rolling roof even with the rubber stops at the end.

Shawn Mitchell, chairman of the observatory committee, explained that the next part of the project after finishing off the details on present buildings will be to build a third building housing a large Centre telescope. He proposes a facility capable of astronomical research which would have to be scheduled. It will most likely be a Newtonian with a 20 inches (0.5 metres) to 40 inches (1.0 metre) diameter mirror. The mounting will be designed later and will depend on (1) funding, (2) the desires of members and (3) size of the telescope.

Dave Lane presented his cost estimates of the project depending on the mirror diameter. Presumably, these figures will be published elsewhere and I will not duplicate that here. The extremes are: $11,000 for a 0.5 metre and building and >$42,000 for a 1.0 metre telescope. There is a sudden upward jump in costs in going from a 3/4 metre to a 1 metre telescope. As a result it is unlikely we will try for 1.0 metre. It was hinted that 25 inches (5/8 metre) is a favourite size because it would make it the largest telescope in Nova Scotia (a 24 inch telescope already exists).

Dave and Joe Yurchesyn both presented graphs of the various properties of the telescope as they change with mirror diameter. This lead into an enthusiastic discussion of why, what, and how. I was getting so interested in the discussions that I forgot to take notes. A couple of members were concerned that the Centre was providing a facility for a few members and neglecting what we could do for the public and visual astronomy. The discussion threatened to eat up the rest of the evening so Dave Chapman had to cut off debate and declare the discussion recessed until another meeting.

The attendees gathered around the library books and refreshment table to exchange information and greetings. Ralph set up a marvelous lineup of goodies including some fruit cake.



We are presently experiencing a problem with some members who are retaining their borrowed books and videos for many months before returning them. This is definitely not fair to the other members and is contrary to centre policy. The problem is further compounded in that some of the culprits are difficult to reach by phone as they seem to be rarely at home.

For the information of everyone, the current centre policy in regard to the library is that borrowed publications and videos should be returned at the next monthly meeting following the meeting from which they are signed out. If the member happens to miss the next meeting then there is "grace" period of one month to the following meeting. If a member wishes to retain the publication for an extended period of time due to a research project, for example, then special arrangements can be made with the Centre Librarian.

The following books have been added to the library in 1996:

Pale Blue Dot Carl Sagan
An Introduction to Practical Astronomy Brian Jones
Planetary Exploration-Mars Don Davis & Peter Cattermole
The Universe & Beyond Terry Dickinson
Exploring the Night Sky Terry Dickinson
Other Worlds Terry Dickinson
Summer Stargazing Terry Dickinson



The Atlantic Space Sciences Foundation's new Starlab portable planetarium program has been very active since the Starlab arrived in Nova Scotia. The Starlab, also known as the "Space Bubble" or the "Inflatable Universe," made its public debut on March 16, 1996 at the Halifax Shopping Centre where short planetarium shows were presented for free all day to over 400 people. Since then it has traveled to many schools, been the centerpiece of a number of teacher workshops, appeared on ASN's Breakfast Television, and has been the focus of a lot of fun, excitement and learning for many, many Nova Scotians.

In the Spring of 1996, Starlab traveled to eight schools under a special introductory program, where a planetarium operator went with the Starlab and presented educational programming to the students. Everywhere it went it got rave reviews.

Each teacher workshop brings more Starlab teachers on line and further increases the demand for Starlab. Teachers immediately recognize the potential for learning that Starlab represents, and as soon as they have it in their school for a day or two they are devising their own individual programs and finding more and more ways to incorporate Starlab into all areas of the curriculum at all grade levels. These teachers are scientists at heart - they all seem to love to experiment with it!

With September came the beginning of a new school year and the start of the Starlab program as originally intended. Our freshly minted Starlab teachers began booking the Starlab for their schools a week at a time, and Starlab began its travels across Nova Scotia. As of this writing (December 1), Starlab is booked into May 1997; some 6000 students have enjoyed the Starlab experience; four Starlab teacher workshops have been held (three more are scheduled); there is a waiting list of teachers requesting workshops, and the calls just keep coming in. Given the continuing demand for bookings, there should be no trouble in meeting our expectations of 10,000-12,000 students per year going through the Starlab!

Everybody is having fun with the Starlab. Teachers love it and their students are unabashed fans of Starlab - they go crazy with excitement when Starlab comes to their school. One school managed to get 900 kids through it in one week! Several schools have had "Parents' Night" or "Community Night" and invited parents and community groups in for an evening to enjoy Starlab. Still other schools have used Starlab as the focus for "Space Week" or "Space Month" where it has served as the centerpiece for a wide range of activities and studies in astronomy and space sciences.

This kind of response to the Starlab is very rewarding for the participants, but even more rewarding for The Atlantic Space Sciences Foundation to see our facility being put to such active and fruitful use in Nova Scotia. This was what we had intended all along. It is extremely gratifying to see our dream come alive in the enthusiasm and excitement of young Nova Scotians as they embark on their journey into the future.

Maybe one Starlab just isn't enough for Nova Scotia!



This past summer saw the 350th anniversary of the birth of the Reverend John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, born on 19 August 1646. Unable to attend university, John Flamsteed taught himself astronomy, earning a small income as a church rector and a mathematics tutor.

In Flamsteed's day, positioning ships of the Royal Navy was of great concern to King Charles II, so he set up an observatory at Greenwich to plot star positions as navigational aids. The King appointed Flamsteed as Astronomer Royal with the paltry salary of 90 pounds sterling per year, and tasked him to produce a star catalogue based on accurate telescopic observations. Unfortunately, Flamsteed had to provide his own telescopes! The work on the star catalogue proceeded too slowly for Flamsteed's scientific colleagues Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton, who published an unauthorised first volume of Flamsteed's catalogue in 1712. This angered Flamsteed greatly, and he succeeded in suppressing this version. The authentic 3-volume catalogue of nearly 3000 stars did not appear until 1725, 6 years after Flamsteed's death.

Today, navigators still reckon longitude in degrees east and west of the north-south meridian that passes through Old Greenwich Observatory. Flamsteed's catalogue was never used for navigating, but the Flamsteed numbers are still used to label the fainter stars of the constellations, which are too numerous for all to be given proper names. In the Octagon Room of the observatory, visitors can view many old telescopes on display, but none that belonged to John Flamsteed: after his death, Flamsteed's widow descended upon the observatory and removed all of the instruments, leaving his successor Edmond Halley to provide his own.



The observatory is ready to use! I couldn't put it simpler than that! The construction is finished for the winter with both buildings being "weather tight" and complete from the outside. In the spring the interior work, electrical wiring, and gravel work will be completed.

The Great Telescope Debate held at the December meeting was very useful indeed, but only represents a start of the discussions needed before any decision on how to proceed is made.

We think we would like to have a large instrument (maybe a 20" or 25" or even a 30" or bigger!) for a main instrument at St. Croix. What do you, the members of the Halifax Centre, want to have at St. Croix? A large light bucket on an alt-az mount or something with a mount that can easily track the sky? Should it be used primarily as a "looking through it" telescope or do you want a scope capable of doing serious amateur research? Do you think it should be computer controlled or not? Do you want to have it made available for public access - have some public observing sessions with the main scope? Or should it be restricted to members use only? What is most important to you?

Give us your thoughts. Feedback via e-mail, phone, letters, or conversation at regular meetings will be most appreciated. This is a Halifax Centre project and the scope will be Centre owned and Centre operated. It is important that we agree on how this project is to proceed - that way it can't help but be a success! We'll have a facility that we can all have ready access to and of which we can all be very proud.

I personally favour that we do no more building in 1997 other than completing what we've started. We should spend our time using and enjoying the facility, fund raising, and soliciting input from our membership through discussions at meetings and by a mail-in membership survey.

Observatory Worker List

The Centre would like to thank those listed below for the donation of their time (otherwise known as sweat-equity) towards the construction of our St. Croix Observatory. Please let us know if we have omitted someone!

Jason Adams, Ian Anderson, Roy and Gertrude Bishop, Larry Bogan, David Chapman, Robin Clayton, Nat Cohen, Paul Gray (and Sue Margeson), Tom Harp, Tony Jones, Pat Kelly, Dave Lane, Shawn Mitchell, Doug Pitcairn, Clint Shannon, Darren Talbot, Walter Urban, Sherman Williams, Mary Lou Whitehorne, Joe Yurchesyn, Walter Zukauskus



Date: Regular Meeting - Friday, January 17 at 8pm; 7pm for the council meeting.

Place: Lower Theatre, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Summer Street, Halifax. Access is from the parking lot.

Topic: Main Speaker: Steve Short, a graduate student at Saint Mary's Astronomy and Physics. Topic: Steve will be telling us all about the exciting lives of Wolf-Rayet Stars. He may also tell us about his recent trip to the U of Toronto's telescope in Chile.

Date: Regular Meeting - Friday, February 21 at 8pm; 7pm for the council meeting.

Place: Lower Theatre, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Summer Street, Halifax. Access is from the parking lot.

Topic: Main Speaker: Dr. Doug Johnstone of the University of Toronto's Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Topic: "The destruction of disks around young stars in Orion's Trapezium."


Wanted to buy:

"Your Book of Astronomy"

by Patrick Moore (published in about 1958)

Contact: Mike Boschat 455-6831

Celestron C8 Telescope

in excellent condition with Super Polaris equatorial mount. Includes standard accessories and eyepieces. Also includes NGC MiniMax Digital Setting Circles

Bausch and Lomb 4000 Telescope

4" Schmit-Cassegrain Telesope with all standard accessories. Never used.

Price negotiable on both telescopes

CONTACT: Alex Norman PHONE: 902-434-6500



The members price for calendars is $10ea. The members price for the Beginner's Observing Guide is $11ea. To purchase either of these publications, see Clint Shannon at a meeting or call him at 889-2426.


The Centre's Observatory is located in the community of St. Croix, Nova Scotia. To get there from Halifax (Bayers Road Shopping Centre), follow these simple instructions.

  1. Take Hwy 102 (the Bi-Hi) to Exit 4 (Sackville).
  2. Take Hwy 101 to Exit 4 (St. Croix).
  3. At the end of the off ramp, turn left.
  4. Drive about 1.5km until you cross the St. Croix River Bridge. You will see a power dam on your left.
  5. Drive about 0.2km past the bridge and take the first left (Salmon Hole Dam Road).
  6. Drive about 1km until the pavement ends.
  7. Continue onto the dirt road and drive another 1km to the site.
  8. You will recognize the site by the two small white buildings on the left.


Honorary President Dr. Murray Cunningham

President David Chapman 463-9103

1st vice-president Blair MacDonald 445-5672

2nd vice-president Clint Shannon 889-2426

Secretary Mary Lou Whitehorne 865-0235

Treasurer Ian Anderson 542-0772

Nova Notes Editor David Lane 443-5989

National Representative Pat Kelly 798-3329

Librarian Greg Spearns 868-2626

Observing Chairman Shawn Mitchell 865-7026

Councilors Paul Gray 469-0947

Robin Clayton 864-0550

Dr. David Turner 435-2733