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message by Dave Simmons

Here's a note from Dave Simmons which went astray:

*****begin note from Dave Simmons

I was able to see the comet early last Sunday AM. I got up about 3:30
since I had been unable to pick it out in the lights around 11:00
before bed. It was an easy naked eye object--and then high in the sky.
With my 8x24 "birder's" binoculars it was brighter and one could see
some structure...brighter in the middle and fuzzy around the edges. I
could just make out a bit of a tail by averted vision. I've been
hyping the comet for the past two weeks in my classes, but since
Sunday the weather has been horrible--5" of snow the other day.

I've used the last two weekly episodes of "Star Hustler", a five
minute astronomy program originating in Miami, Florida. Jack Horkheimer
is the host and I love his enthusiasm. Some of the kids are pretty
interested and it has been generating lots of good questions.

Questions, there is one I really feel I can not adequately answer. I
was asked how the comet's orbital parameters can be determined so
quickly. I know about Kepler and took celestial mechanics those many
years ago as an undergrad...but if someone can provide a bit of a
tutorial, many of us might be educated.

May there be clear skies.


* David A. Simmons St. John's Jesuit High School *
* 665 Rutledge Ct. 5901 Airport Highway *
* Perrysburg OH 43551 Toledo OH 43615 *
* <> *

Dick Smith
Department of Physics
The University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL 32514