Report on the 37th Comet Conference in Niigata Hakkaisan

Updated April 28, 2007

Official page of the 37th Comet Conference (in Japanese)
Report on the Conference on the AstroArts Web page by S. Murakami (in Japanese)

Photos are by courtesy of Satoshi Nagamine if not mentioned.

I have chaired the 37th Comet Conference in Niigata Hakkaisan that was held on Saturday April 7 to Sunday 8, 2007 at the Hakkaisan Seminar House, Nihon University, and the adjacent public facility, the Reiho Hakkai, some 170 km NNW of Tokyo in Niigata Prefecture. Sixty two attendees enjoyed the conference including 9 comet discoverers.

This conference featured the Special Lecture by the great comet hunter Tsutomu Seki.

Click to enlarge.
The Venue, the Hakkaisan Seminar House, Nihon University. The snow covered mountain is Hakkaisan.
Photo: Shigeki Murakami


Saturday April 7
2:00 p.m.  Opening
2:15-3:15 Special Lecture
               Tsutomu Seki: 'The miracles of comet discoveries'
3:25-3:45 Talk show: Tsutomu Seki vs Shigeki Murakami
3:45-4:10 Discussion
4:15-4:20 Photographic time
4:30-5:50 Sectional meetings
              Title                                    Chairperson
              Visual observation;                Seiichi Yoshida
              Astrometory;                       Masayuki Suzuki
              Spectroscopy;                      Reiko Furusho
              Imaging and image processing;  Ken-ichi Kadota
              Comet hunting;                     Tsutomu Seki
5:55-6:15 Reports of sectional meetings
7:00-8:00 Dinner
8:00-9:00 Star watching using 60 cm reflector (Meeting of the Scientific Organizing Committee)
9:00-11:00 Party and cometary quiz game

Sunday, April 8
9:00 a.m. Opening

 Dust tail structures of Comet McNaught
   H. Akizawa, K. Sugawara, J. Watanabe
 Introduction to the Summer Seminer on Comet
   H. Akizawa

9:00-9:15 Comet discoveries and observation in 2006
              A. Nakamura
9:15-9:30 Changes in brightness of major comets in 2006
             S. Yoshida;
9:30-9:45 V/R brightness observations for asteroids with comet like orbits
              T. Oribe
9:45-10:00 New objects confirmation -in situ report-
               K. Kadota
10:00-10:02 Introductions of posters
 <Coffee break>
10:20-10:35 Comet compositions measured by Nayuta Telescope
                 A. Mori
10:35-10:50 Visible rays' low dispersion spectroscopic observation of 73P: a comparison of other comets
                 T. Hamane
10:50-11:05 Differences in dust characteristics between B and C nuclei of 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann: polarized imaging observation
                 R. Furusho
11:05-11:20 Can comets transfer to asteroids? An example of a parent body of Phoenicids.
                 J. Watanabe
 <Coffee break>
11:40 Report from SOC
11:50 Closing

Reception desk. A comet discoverer Masamitsu Nakamura received the document.

A Comet and novae discoverer, Hideo Nishimura (left), is talking with me.

Opening statement by the Chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee, Junichi Watanabe of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).

Greeting by me.

Special Lecture by Tsutomu Seki.

Talk show by Seki and Murakami.
I showed one of the Seki's publications issued in 1975. I purchased the book when I decided to comet hunt in my boyhood.

My impression of the Special Lecture: The miracles of comet discoveries by Tsutomu Seki

During his impassioned speech, Seki moved his arms, hands and fingures like a conductor of an orchestra, and the audience got excited. One of the hilight of the lecture was that 'Comet Ikeya-Seki' composed by Cuban composer Jose Caleyo was played using CD. Caleyo was excited to see Comet Ikeya-Seki, and he composed this piano music and sent the sheet of music to Ikeya and Seki. Seki said that this was played in public for the first time. In his publications I red the music had not been played since he recieived a sheet of music over 40 years ago, but I have wondered why had not. Seki is a professional guitarist! This time I understood the reason.

When Seki showed one of the musical professionals the sheet of music, he was told it was very difficult to play, and that probably no one could play it in Shikoku Island, the forth largest island in Japan where Seki lives. That explained the song has not been played. Recently, due to the developement of the computer technology it is possible for the computer to play the music, and, fortunately, the attendees of the Conference could enjoy it!

However, the music seemed to break off, and ended unnatural way. The sheets was lying idle so many years and two out of four pages was lost! IIeya also lost all the sheets and we cannot listen to the entire music.

Seki encouraged us for future visual discovery. We can sitll spot  a new comet. He analysed the changes in brightness of  C/1961 T1 Seki, C/2004 Q2 Mcholz, and P/2006 T1 Levy, all were visually discovered, and enphasized that the chances are we can. He emphasized that all we need is not expensive equipment and premium telescopes but passion.

Another impressive story was on his rediscovery of 41P
Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak in 1978. Most people thought that it was impossible to detect the comet but Seki used a lot of Kodak 103aO dry plates (photo film) that was expensive at that time without hesitation. Even though the chances are little, he devoted himself without losing  hope.He said passion made him so, and he could not afford to considering money. I felt Seki was the youngset man in terms of passion among the atendees of the Conference. 

While I was reading his book aloud, Seki was listening to it in meditation.

The photo of the asteroid, 'Murikabushi', was given to Seki by Hideo Fukushima of NAOJ. Murikabushi is a nickename of the 105 cm reflector telescpope at the Ishigaki-jima Observatory.The asteroid that Seki discovered was named Murikabushi after the  telescope.
Photo by S. Murakami.

A talk show

We have agreed that we comet hunters should not give up searching even under the era of the robotomic survey.
At the end of the show I red the hilight of one of his books, 'Rainbow over the night sky' (Japanese title: Yozora wo kakeru niji) aloud.

It reads,
  Only to see the grourious result people say a comet discoverer is lucky and blessed.
  However, no one knows the continuous bad luck and endless effrots the hunter devoted, which are lurked in the brilliant laurels.
  Only a comet hunter who spotted many new comets knows this secret world.

I noticed Seki meditated as if he had been looking up the sky, when I was reading.

Discoverers of comet, nova, and super nova.
W: Comet Swan; C: Comet; N: Nova; S: Supernova

From left to right: Masayuki Suzuki (W), Yoshimi Ichimura (C,S), Shigeo Mitsuma (C), Yukio Sakurai (N), Masamitus Nakamura (C), Shigeki Murakami (C), Tsutomu Seki (C), Hirohisa Sato(W), HK (N), Osamu Abe (C), Seiichi Yoshida (N), Hideo Nishimura (C,N), and Akira Takao (N).

Toast by Seki.
150x25 Binocular is nothing to do with the Conferenfce.

The final mach of the game.

Party and a quiz game.

Presentation session on April 8 at Reiho Hakkai.

Coffee break.