PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet DIGEST, 11 May 1998
-------------------------

(1) ANNOTATED VERSION OF THE EDITORIAL IN THE MAY 11 MINOR PLANET
    CIRCULARS
    Brian G. Marsden (bmarsden@cfa.harvard.edu)

(2) STATE OF PLANETARY EXPLORATION
    Oliver Morton <abq72@pop.dial.pipex.com>

(3) LARGE TELESCOPES NOT NEEDED
    Duncan Steel <dis@a011.aone.net.au>

(4) INSAP II ANNOUNCEMENT
    Rolf Sinclair/NSF Physics Division <rsinclai@nsf.gov>

=============================
(1) ANNOTATED VERSION OF THE EDITORIAL IN THE MAY 11 MINOR PLANET
    CIRCULARS

From Brian G. Marsden (bmarsden@cfa.harvard.edu)

>"Continuing what seems to have become a monthly practice of breaking 
>records, we note that the current batches of MPCs and MPSs contain 
>some 67 000 observations, compared to only 52 500 in the last batch. 
>The 3029 new provisional designations also handsomely beat last
>month's record of 2205; furthermore, the 3173 designations that apply
>to the second half of March 1998 alone (extending to 1998 FC127!)
>exceed by a similar margin the previous record of 2115 (in the second
>half of March 1993). The 174 new permanent numberings this month are
>also above last month's 160."

    The above paragraph speaks for itself--provided you know the lingo.
The MPCs, or Minor Planet Circulars, are issued by the International
Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in monthly batches.
Traditionally, they have contained the astrometric observations of
minor planets and comets reported during the preceding month, together
with orbit computations, giving in many cases the greatly improved
results that follow from newly recognized linkages of observations of
the same object in different years. When orbit quality is deemed to
reach the appropriate standard, a minor planet is given a sequential
number, this also being announced in the MPCs. At this point it becomes
eligible for a proper name, proposed by the discoverer subject to the
approval of an IAU committee. New names are also first announced in
the MPCs, which end with ephemerides for objects of particular interest
and a list of opposition-date positions, motions and magnitides for
more ordinary objects. 

    The Minor Planet Center was established and the series of MPCs was
initiated at the Cincinnati Observatory in 1947, at which time there
were 1564 numbered minor planets (accumulating since 1801). When the
Minor Planet Center moved to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
in Cambridge in 1978, a total of 4390 MPCs had been issued, and there
were 2060 numbered minor planets. Since October 1997, in an effort to
cut down on the volume of the MPCs, the observational information
supplied has been simply a rather detailed summary of the data obtained
at the 100 or so reporting observatories each month. The observations
themselves are now being published monthly in a Supplement series,
abbreviated to MPS, as well as in computer files. Even without
observations, the present batch of MPCs contains 218 pages, the latest
being No. 31850. The present batch of MPSs runs to a massive 314 pages,
giving a total of 1182 since last October.

    Minor planets that can not immediately be identified but that are
observed on two or more nights are given provisional designations that
generally consist of the year, a letter indicating the halfmonth in the
year, and a second letter that is sequenced through the alphabet as
many times as necessary. Since many of the new discoveries are followed
for a month or so, the more new provisional designations there are
means that there is a greater likelihood for finding identifications
between objects given designations at different oppositions.  The rate
of new numberings of minor planets therefore also increases.  As of
today, the number of numbered minor planets stands at 8777, all with
orbits that are really nowadays of very high quality, with the
exception of (719) Albert, lost since its discovery in 1911.

    The progressive increase in the number of observations in the
April and May batches is truly astounding, for earlier in the year a
total of 26 000 was noteworthy. The enormous increase is largely due to
the great success of LINEAR, the new "LIncoln Near Earth Asteroid
Research" observing program conducted at the Lincoln Laboratory, in
Lexington, Massachusetts, on a 1.0-m f/2 GEODSS (Ground-Based Electro
Optical Deep Space Surveillance) telescope near Socorro, New Mexico. 
This program, supplementing the well-known and very effective
Spacewatch and NEAT search programs, is showing the coming-of-age of
electronic sky surveys using charge-coupled devices. For the first
time, there is wide-field, multiple-night, CCD coverage of large areas
of the sky comparable to the photographic coverage of Schmidt
plates--but with the reduction completed essentially in real time.  In
what is an orbit computer's paradise, the juxtaposition of fields
effectively shows all the minor planets over an area of 60 degrees in
ecliptic longitude by 20 degrees in ecliptic latitude around the
opposition point to fainter than visual magnitude 20.5. The 35 417
observations by LINEAR in the April MPCs exceed by one-third the total
number of observations from all the observatories in the world during
any month in the past! The LINEAR data from April and May combined
yield a total of 81 768 observations of 8030 different minor planets,
of which 3646 are new discoveries. There is also the new
intermediate-period comet P/1998 G1.

    The second paragraph in the actual editorial discusses changes
that have become necessary in the dissemination of the MPCs and MPSs
and is not reproduced here. Anyone who wishes to subscribe to these
publications should contact iausubs@cfa.harvard.edu.

>"Understandably, the recent general increase in activity on minor
>planets has also brought a significant increase in the rate of
>discovery of NEOs (near-earth objects), with already as many new NEO
>discoveries in 1998 as in the whole of 1997 and a total of now 501
>minor planets in the Apollo, Amor and Aten classes combined. Of these,
>120 form the subset of PHAs (potentially hazardous asteroids), which
>have absolute magnitude H not fainter than mag 22.0 and a current
>possibility of passing within 0.05 AU of a circle in the plane of the
>ecliptic at 1.0 AU from the sun.  As many as 16 new PHAs have been
>added so far during 1998, 12 of them since the March 11 announcement
>on IAUC 6837 that entry No. 104, 1997 XF11, would make a predicted
>record close pass to the earth in 2028 for a PHA intrinsically as
>bright as H = 17.0.  That announcement created somewhat of a stir, and
>it was in fact correct.  Most importantly, it pointed out the need for
>ensuring that follow-up observations (both astrometric and physical)
>are made of an increasing number of objects, one particularly
>effective form of follow-up being the search for images of
>newly-discovered PHAs in photographic archives. The problem with 1997
>XF11 was that its particular significance from this point of view had
>not been appreciated earlier, with the March 3-4 observations that led
>to the startling nominal orbit computation on MPC 31424 therefore
>being the only ones obtained in a month. In the hope of preventing
>similar stirs with regard to PHA predictions in the future, we have
>recently taken the step of specifically indicating objects that are
>PHAs (and the distance in AU from the 1.0-AU circle) on the MPECs.
>Although this notation is not being carried over to the 'Daily Orbit
>Update' MPECs or to the MPCs themselves, readers are reminded that an
>up-to-date list of PHAs is maintained in the WWW at
>http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/Dangerous.html and that there is
>in addition now at
>http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/PHACloseApp.html a list of the
>indicated actual passages within 0.05 AU of the earth (in order of
>increasing approach distance) until the year 2100 (cases with very
>short arcs being omitted); the one-opposition objects on the latter
>list (currently 1988 TA, 1994 WR12, 1997 BQ, 1997 QK1 and 1998 DV9)
>are therefore particularly good candidates for archival searches." 

     Since the start of 1998 there have been reports of 27 new Apollos
(perihelion distance less than 1.0 AU), 22 new Amors (perihelion
distance 1.0-1.3 AU) and three new Atens (mean distance less than 1.0
AU). See http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/Unusual.html .

    The 12 PHA discoveries during the past two months represent a
six-fold increase in activity over the previous two years.  Of these
discoveries, 6 were found by LINEAR, 2 each by Spacewatch and NEAT, as
well as 2 by Roy Tucker, an amateur astronomer who makes CCD
observations from near Tucson, Arizona, with a 0.36-m f/11 reflector. 
The discoveries of these objects, as well as of almost all the other
recent NEOs and some candidate NEOs that did not pan out, were
tentatively announced in The NEO Confirmation Page, which is maintained
by the Minor Planet Center at
http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/NEO/ToConfirm.html .

Nothing further would have happened if there had been no confirmatory
follow-up astrometry, and it is important to acknowledge the role of
the observers who do this work.  Altogether, 572 observations have so
far been reported of the 12 PHAs from a total of 24 different
observatories. Just three observatories, however, were responsible for
57 percent of these observations. These are the Klet Observatory, Czech
Republic, which made 129 observations of as many as 10 of the 12 PHAs;
the LINEAR program, the enormous sky coverage of which quite
incidentally yielded 110 observations of 9 PHAs; and the Ondrejov
Observatory, also in the Czech Republic, which made 85 observations of
9 PHAs. Two more observing programs, with the 1.8-m telescope at the
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, and
by the Japanese amateur astronomer Akimasa Nakamura, recorded 5 of the
PHAs; and two more, at Modra, Slovak Republic, and by the Japanese
amateur Atsushi Sugie, recorded 4. In addition to the initial and
follow-up observations of their discoveries by Spacewatch, NEAT and
Tucker, two of the PHAs were also observed at Majorca, Balearic
Islands; Chinle, Arizona; and San Marcello Pistoiese, Italy.

    This follow-up needs to go on for several weeks, and if possible
months, if there is to be much hope of recovering the PHAs at their
next convenient oppositions, when they are likely to be faint and
therefore require good predictions. Three PHAs have been recovered at
their key second oppositions during the past two months: 1993 BX3 by
Spacewatch, and 1996 GT and 1997 NC1 in a collaboration using the
University of Arizona's 1.5-m and the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory's 1.2-m reflector near Tucson. Time on these last two
telescopes, as well as on other professional instruments, such as the
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory's telescope mentioned above and
telescopes at the McDonald Observatory in Texas, is only occasionally
available, and one of the principal needs of NEO astronomy is for a
large telescope that can be dedicated to observations (including
photometry) of faint objects. A cheaper alternative, particularly for
the instrinsically brighter PHAs, is therefore to examine photographic
archives for images of them at earlier oppositions. It was the earlier
failure to do this and the rather perfunctory nature anyway of the
follow-up on what was obviously a particularly interesting PHA, 1997
XF11 (coupled with the intriguing circumstances involving extrapolation
of the readily available nominal orbit computation to 2028), that led
to the March 11 announcement that quickly yielded the 1990 data
necessary for establishing the actual circumstances in 2028.  Although
many of those in a position to examine old archives are able to produce
past ephemerides themselves, we have considered extending the Web page
to include the more promising cases. 1998 DV9, for example, seems to
gave passed only 0.004 AU from the earth at the beginning of 1975 and
would then have been a good candidate for precovery.

>"In response to requests, the 'Daily Orbit Update' MPECs have for the
>past month been regularly including the latest astrometric data on
>recently-discovered NEOs.  The automatic preparation of these MPECs
>makes it feasible to recognize--and therefore acknowledge--these data
>only by the appearance of the observatory code. Not surprisingly, it
>has already happened that some erroneous data have been disseminated
>in this way, and we apologize to the observer concerned. The actual
>archiving of the data and acknowledgment of the observers is of course
>done in the monthly combination of MPCs and MPSs. If the observers
>with a particular observatory code do not wish to have their data
>included in these automatic MPECs, they should so inform us."

    This last paragraph does not really require further comment. It is
hoped that these observations are being put to good use. Although this
has been done in response to the complaint that the Minor Planet Center
did not make the March 3-4 observations of 1997 XF11 formally available
until March 13 (although it did respond to all requests for them on
March 11 and 12), everything of consequence concerning this object (see
IAUC 6879 and my annotated account of it in the CCNet Digest on April
24) could have been learned without them.

====================
(2) STATE OF PLANETARY EXPLORATION

From Oliver Morton <abq72@pop.dial.pipex.com>

I just got back from an International Academy of Astronautics meeting
in Pasadena, and thought you might be interested in a brief roundup of
what's going on and being planned in planetary science at the moment.
Many of you probably know some or all of this, but I was quite struck
by quite what a big picture emerged when you put all the individual
missions together.

The decade 96-05 will, according to current plans, see the launches of
some 30 planetary-science missions. 27 of these are already decided on;
there are three additional funded slots for which a mission has yet to
be chosen. I may have missed a couple of missions or slots -- is there
a European moon mission? -- and of course some may be cancelled. It is
also possible that some may yet be added, perhaps some small Mars
missions, or some privately funded moon missions. Various companies
have announced plans for the moon, and some have reserved launch slots,
but the only private industry mission that I'm including for the moment
in the overall tally is near earth asteroid prospector (NEAP), by
SpaceDev/ISS.

America dominates the scene spectacularly (there are no Russian
missions on the cards at all, as far as I can see). Of the 30 missions
under discussion, 23 are NASA missions, of which five have already been
launched. For comparison, if memory serves, the decade 86-95 saw just
four planetary missions launched by the US, as did the decade 76-85.
66-75 saw about 12, I think, not counting Apollo and other lunar
missions. Exclude the moon and there's more planetary exploration going
on this decade, by this crude measure, than in the history of the field
to date. (Caveat: science may not follow until long after launch --
eight years or more in some cases).

The most popular destination is Mars, the target of at least 12
missions, two of which have already been launched. Ten of these
missions are American, one Japanese (Planet-B), one European (Mars
Express). It is possible that there will be additional extremely
small-scale missions that make use of the possibility for piggyback
missions on Ariane 5 launches. It is also possible that one of the
uncommitted slots in NASA's Discovery programme might be used for a
Mars mission.

The second most popular class of destinations is the minor bodies. Nine
missions to minor bodies are in the planning stage, though in not all
of the cases has the minor body in question been decided on, and some
of these missions will visit more than one destination. There are four
missions to comets, two of which will be fly-bys (Stardust and Contour,
which are NASA Discovery missions, the second of which will visit a
number of different short period comets) and two of which will be
rendezvous missions (Deep Space 4/Champollion, a NASA new millennium
mission with French involvement that will return a sample, and ESA's
Rosetta). Three are rendezvous missions to near earth asteroids (NEAR,
already on its way to Eros; Japan's Muses-C, which will be going to
Nereus in 02; and NEAP,  headed for either 1983 BX3 or 1996 XB27 in
00). Two are flybys that will take in either a comet and a near-earth
asteroid (NASA's new millennium probe Deep Space 1) or a comet and/or
an asteroid (ESA's Smart-1). It's possible that one of the
as-yet-uncommitted Discovery slots in this time period might be a
minor-body mission of some sort. Also, the Pluto mission slated for
launch in 04 includes a fly by with a Kuiper belt object, but not until
the mid 10s or, if it ends up going the slow way, the mid 20s. Don't
hold your breath.

As well as Pluto, the other subjects of inquiry are Saturn and Titan
(Cassini), Europa (Europa orbiter, to be launched in 03 or, if
difficulties arise, 04, which should provide conclusive evidence for or
against the ocean and might even offer some clues as to entry
strategies), the moon (Lunar Prospector) and the composition of the
solar wind (Genesis, another Discovery mission). There is also a
telescope that will study the atmospheric oscillations of the outer
planets and  look for the slight dimming in the light from other stars
caused by transits of earth-like planets (a French mission called
Corot, apparently similar to the so-far unselected Kepler proposal for
discovery). The next two discovery missions (notionally funded for the
96-05 time period but not yet selected) may well add Venus and Vesta to
the list.

In terms of trends in technology/mission design it is worth noting that
of the 27 missions defined five are sample returns, which should in
principle provide terrestrial laboratories samples of solar wind, comet
dust, comet nucleus material, asteroid regolith and the Martian
surface. Four of the missions already defined intend to use
solar-electric propulsion, as did, apparently, about a third of the
discovery missions pitched in the previous selection round. It seems
quite possible that the as-yet unallocated slot in the new millennium
programme (Deep Space 5) might go to a solar sailing demostrator.
Another new technology that might well be tried soon, but is not on any
currently funded mission, is ballooning, both as a way of exploring
planets with suitable atmospheres and, if it can be made to work,
delivering considerably better mass fractions to the surface of Mars.

Most of these missions are relatively low budget. The discovery
missions are less than $150m (1992 value $) excluding launch (Lunar
Prospector <$70m). Some Mars missions and the future outer planets
missions are a bit more. Cassini is much more and Rosetta, too, is
probably quite pricey. Management reforms are still needed, according
to many participants, and the easy ways to bring down costs by using
off-the-shelf technology have now, for the most part, run their course.
New technologies to enable ever more ambitious things -- low weight
solar electric prop, high degrees of autonomy, chip level systems
integration, cheap inflatable structures, ultralight ascent vehicles --
are under discussion/in development. Whether they will arrive reliably,
on time and in budget who can say.

The conference's keynote adress was an excellent presentation of
current thinking in exobiology as it applies to solar system studies by
Jonathan Lunine. It's interesting that while life has clearly become
the dominant theme of Mars work (geophysicists wanting a seismic
network there, who have been waiting for decades, may have to wait for
another), it does not yet seem to dominate the planetary science
community at large to anything like as great an extent. On the
not-yet-funded wishlist there are two missions with a strongly
exobiological slant, a europa lander (which is a very tough nut to
crack -- lots of delta V, lots of hard radiation and no clear way to
get to the water if there is any) and a Titan explorer (quite possibly
a balloon) but also a lot of stuff with little if any obvious exobio
link -- Io orbiters, Jupiter atmospheric probes, Neptune orbiter,
Mercury Orbiter, Main Belt asteroid sample return. There may be a
conflict ahead between a highly exobio focused approach and what you
might call "traditional" planetary science.

Another point to consider is that Mars at present occupies a unique
position with respect to life beyond the earth in that it is
fascinating both to those who want to find some there and to those who
want to put some there. It gives those two groups a common goal.  If
the hunt for life on Mars past and present comes to seem impossibly
difficult with current technology or fruitless in some other way and
the principle exobio interest shifts to Europa (or Titan), that
alignment of interests would fall apart. If Europa, impossible to reach
with manned missions using any currently achievable technology and
probably requiring very expensive robots and big spacecraft to do it
sample-return justice, overtakes Mars as the solar system's best
candidate for life's second abode, we could see a resurgence of manned
v. unmanned exploration arguments in the late 00s/early10s.

Hope this is of some interest to at least some of you, o.

==================================
(3) LARGE TELESCOPES NOT NEEDED

From Duncan Steel <dis@a011.aone.net.au>

Dear Benny,

Thanks to Ed Grondine for his contributions last week, in particular
his comments after briefly discussing the matter of NASA involvement in
NEO search and tracking with Wes Huntress.  This has been useful
information for many people. However, there are a couple of factual and
attitudinal mistakes which should be pointed out.

(A) Large telescopes necessary?

Ed wrote:
>It is interesting to note Dr. Huntress's emphasis on the upgrading of
>small telescopes.  That the search for PHOs is something which is going
>to require lots of observing time on the larger telescopes is a
>decision which NASA is avoiding for now, and in my opinion this is
>largely in deference to the cosmologists who are their predominate
>clients in the astronomical community.

Ed is factually incorrect. In fact a long way off-beam.  I could write
for pages on this, but I will limit my comments in order to try to get
the basic story across.

For initial purposes, let us ignore comets and distant solar system
asteroids, on the basis that one could claim (perhaps incorrectly, but
it's the basic belief) that Apollo-type asteroids comprise >90% of the
hazard (>90% of the PHOs). These are what we need to discover and track
(by which I mean: determine their orbits with sufficient precision to
be able to state with approaching 100% surety that none will hit the
Earth within the next century). These have (obviously) Earth-crossing
orbits, and aphelia which are within the jovian orbit. Their maximum
geocentric distance is therefore around 4 AU. If one stipulates a
minimum size of asteroid of interest/concern (say, 1 km) then this
maximum distance renders a minumum brightness at that distance and thus
a minimum required aperture. Basically, this is what led to the
recommendation of 2 or 2.5 metre apertures for the Spaceguard Survey
proposed telescopes.  One can, however, do pretty well with smaller
apertures (one  c a n  find the objects when they are closer to us than
their maximum distance!), and since the Spaceguard committee report
(1992) it has generally been agreed that whilst we would like to carry
out that general scheme (monthly coverage to mag 22 within about 30
degrees of opposition) we would also like to do a wider area (whole
sky) but less deep (to mag 17-18) monthly scan, especially to find
Atens.

This does mean that small telescopes are required. One can easily see
the fallacy of Grondine's statement in this way. One finds objects
within a search volume which is a pyramid shape. The Earth/telescope is
at the apex of the pyramid, whilst the base is the search area (area of
your photo of the sky, or CCD, if you like). The height of the pyramid
is measured by the depth/faintness of your search, which depends upon
the telescope aperture, detector, etc. For objects within the inner
solar system (closer than Jupiter) larger than about 1 km you only need
to go to mag 22 in your search. This means: forget the big
'astrophysical' telescopes. These give you search volumes which are
greatly elongated (going out beyond Pluto) but very narrow (small
search area).  The 'useful volume' they render is only that within
their pyramids and going out to around Jupiter: really, too small to be
of use.  FOR SEARCHING FOR ASTEROIDS IN THE INNER SOLAR SYSTEM LARGE
TELESCOPES ARE VIRTUALLY USELESS. To try to use them whould be an act
of stupidity, and a gross mis-use of public funds.

I have actually done a comparison between the various telescope systems
at Siding Spring for asteroid discovery:

D.Steel, Asteroid discovery efficiencies for telescope systems at
Siding Spring, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia,
12, 202-214 (1995). [Please do NOT ask me to send out copies:
astronomical libraries have it].

The results show that the 3.9 metre Anglo-Australia Telescope (and the
2.3 metre SSO reflector) would perform very poorly for asteroid
discovery. At Siding Spring there is an old adapted Baker-Nunn
satellite tracking camera (aperture 0.5 metre), operated by the
University of NSW. My modelling suggested that this should outperform
the big telescopes for asteroid discovery. Tests I conducted in 1996
confirmed this. 

On the same mountain is the 1.2 metre UK Schmidt Telescope (operated as
part of the AAO). My modelling indicates that, equipped with a CCD
mosaic covering 50% of the 6.4 degree image field, the UKST would
outpower any other optical system there. The (Earth-approaching)
asteroid discovery rate it could/should deliver would be 3 to 5 times
higher than the GEODSS systems now being used so wonderfully by NEAT
and LINEAR. The point here is that the UKST search volume would go out
to several AU but would be very wide, the pyramid volume being a much
larger fraction of the region inhabited by PHOs than the volume that
the AAT could render. And MUCH cheaper.

This does not mean that large (>2.5 metre, say) telescopes have no role
in NEO studies. For obtaining astrometry on faint objects they may be
necessary (I have used the AAT when ephemerides indicate that
particular NEAs will not get brighter than mag 21 within 10 years), and
there are great for spectrophotometry, lightcurves etc. But for
SEARCHING for PHOs in the inner solar system, small telescopes covering
wide areas are the only way to go. At some later stage we may want to
scour the outer solar system (e.g., the Spaceguard II stage called for
a 4 metre plus search telescope in each hemisphere looking for
long-period comets beyond the orbit of Saturn to give us sufficient
warning time as in a situation just like that in 'Deep Impact': see
B.G. Marsden & D.I. Steel, Warning times and impact probabilities for
long-period comets, pp.221-239 in Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids,
ed. T. Gehrels), University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1994). 
But we need to get started first on things closer to home. The concept
stated by Huntress is entirely correct from that perspective.

The continued mis-statement/assumption by people that huge telescopes
are required for NEO search programmes is likely the single thing which
is holding back the needed international programme more than any other
thing. The major financial need is not to build huge pieces of
equipment: it's to hire people to operate smaller systems.

(B) Mitigation

I am afraid that I must also take issue with Grondine's statements WRT
mitigation; for example:

>Another item of interest is that NASA expects that the Balllistic
>Missile Defense Organization will be able to handle mitigation efforts
>by itself.  Unlike ballistic missiles, which are just barely
>transatmospheric, PHOs are deep space objects, and one wonders what
>BMDO will propose to use to handle this task.

I don't think that 'NASA' 'expects' any such thing.  At least, it
shouldn't do so. It's simply none of NASA's business (until such time
as the US government tells NASA to make it its business).  So far as I
am aware, 'mitigation' (or, covering a wider area, 'planetary defense')
is not a task given to, or accepted by, any US government agency at
this time. There are proposals within the US DoD (e.g., Clementine II)
which cover some features of such a programme, however, and
NASA/civilian participation input has been mooted.  But that is on hold
at present.

Stepping back from that, the real question at this time is not
mitigation: it's detection.  Recent news makes it look like NASA might
be picking the ball up, and preparing to run with it.  What is being
proposed (according to reports) is sensible and laudable.  We might
wish that it had happened six years ago, and that the budget were ten
times as high, but the thing to do is to keep this forward momentum
going. At least the US is making a start, unlike the other backards
nations around the world (I write from one of them).

Duncan Steel

=======================
(4) INSAP II ANNOUNCEMENT

From Rolf Sinclair/NSF Physics Division <rsinclai@nsf.gov>

Hi Benny --
You may wish to circulate this to the Cambridge-Conference List.

Rolf

Dear Colleague:

With this note, we wish to inform you of the up-coming Second
International Conference on THE INSPIRATION OF ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENA
("INSAP II"), to be held 7-14 January 1999 on The Mediterranean Island
of Malta.

The sky makes up half of mankind's world; the Earth around us makes up
the other half. This meeting will explore mankind's fascination with
the astronomical phenomena that define the sky -- the lights in the
sky, by day and by night -- which have been a strong and often dominant
element in human life and culture. Scholars from a variety of
disciplines (including Archaeology, Art, Classics, History and
Prehistory, Mythology and Folklore, Philosophy, the Physical Sciences,
and Religion) will attend "INSAP II" to discuss the impacts
astronomical phenomena have had on mankind. Presentations by attendees
will be grouped under four main topics: Literature; Art; Myth and
Religion; History and Prehistory.

The Conference will allow the attendees to address the many and
variegated cultural impacts of the perceptions of the day and night
skies, providing a mechanism for a broad group of artists, historians,
philosophers, and scientists to meet, compare notes, and have the
chance to ask those questions of each other about their work which may
have been lying fallow for decades. Attendance will be by invitation
from among those applying. Full information on the Conference and an
application form can be obtained by contacting the Organizing 
Committee, or from our Website

http://ethel.as.arizona.edu/~white/insap.htm


This Conference is the second to be held on this general theme. Details
of the first meeting (held at Castel Gandolfo, Vatican State, 27 June-2
July 1994), and the publication references that include many of the
papers presented there, may be found also at the above Website (URL as
given).

This Conference is sponsored by the OTS Foundation and the Vatican
Observatory.

Please circulate or post this announcement.

The Organizing Committee:

* Professor Raymond E. White, Steward Observatory, University of
Arizona (Chair) rwhite@as.arizona.edu
* Rev. George V. Coyne, S. J., The Vatican Observatory:
gcoyne@as.arizona.edu
* Dr. Rolf M. Sinclair, National Science Foundation, Arlington VA
rsinclai@nsf.gov
* Prof. Frank Ventura, Malta fven@cis.um.edu.mt

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