insidethisissue - The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

on course to pass to the east of the target, so I wasn’t tooconcerned. However, five minutes later, those baby clouds’bigger brothers came swaggering into my playground andruined everything. Bullies! They chased away all the stars intheir path, including my target, and even convinced the nearlyfull Moon to make itself scarce. T-time came and T-time went,but the big old nasty clouds hung around. Disappointed, Igave up and went home, grumbling all the way, hoping othershad better luck.Unluckily, other occultationists elsewhere did not havebetter luck. I know of at least four others who were eitherclouded out or who suffered equipment problems. No onefiled a positive report with IOTA. As IOTA coordinator BradTimerson wrote, “We all took a bath with Bathilde.”So, what it all comes down to is that I had an easy failure,while Alister had a stressful success. He fought off a seriesof difficulties and brought home the data. He was indeedthe first and — since no other occultation reports weresubmitted to IOTA — the only person ever to observe this orany occultation by (583) Klotilde. Moreover, Alister showedthat the asteroid is a few kilometres larger in diameter thanpreviously thought, assuming a spherical profile. He alsodemonstrated that the actual path of the occultation hadshifted a bit northward (Figure 1). Clearly, more occultationsby Klotilde need to be observed in order to refine further itssize and shape. Well done, Alister!Orbital OdditiesHalley’s Hailstonesby Bruce McCurdy, Edmonton Centre (–I am like a slip of comet,Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seenBridging the slender difference of two stars,Come out of space, or suddenly engender’dBy heady elements, for no man knows:But when she sights the sun she grows and sizesAnd spins her skirts out, while her central starShakes its cocooning mists; and so she comesTo fields of light; millions of travelling raysPierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,And sucks the light as full as Gideon’s fleece:But then her tether calls her; she falls off,And as she dwindles shreds her smock of goldAmidst the sistering planets, till she comesTo single Saturn, last and solitary;And then goes out into the cavernous dark.So I go out: my little sweet is done:I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:To not ungentle death now forth I run.— Gerard Manley Hopkins, “I am Like a Slip of Comet...”It was Halley’s Comet that finally drew me out to fields of light.I had been interested in the famous comet since my brotherDave had studied it in grade school twenty years previouslyand told me of its “once-in-a-lifetime” return. We calculatedhow old we would be in 1985 and in 2061. I was interested inits periodic nature even then, and resolved not to miss my onechance.The timing of Halley’s return was perfect. That fall of 1985I had joined the RASC. The recent opening of the EdmontonOn the morning of October 21 2007, a spectacular magnitude -5or better Orionid fireball flared bright enough to cast shadows onthe ground, leaving behind a drifting train that persisted for severalminutes. Photo by Pierre Martin, Ottawa Centre: Canon 30D at ISO640, 18-mm f/2.8 lens, 2-minute exposure. See also page 66.Space Sciences Centre just a couple of kilometres from myhome had sparked a latent lifelong interest into action. I wasenraptured with the sky. Halley’s Comet was as good a place to74 Building for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009)JRASC April / avril 2008

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