ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA
STANDING COMMITTEE ON OBSERVATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Bulletin No 2 AURORA SECTION March 1963
Since the introductory bulletin last year, four of the sixteen R.A.s.C. Centres
have indicated a desire to co-operate in the national auroral observing programme.
The four local recorders are as follows:-
Calgary James F. Wright 218 - 4th Avenue N.E., Calgary, Alta.
Edmonton Franklin C. Loehde 9749 89th Avenue, Edmonton, Alta.
Hamilton Frank Dorosh 216 Millen Road, Stoney Creek, Ont,
Montreal Louis R. Duchow 5987 MacDonald Avenue, Montreal 29, Que.
The purpose of an auroral observing programme co-ordinated by the R.A.S.C. Comm-
ittee on Observational Activities is to encourage more interest in aurora observing
amongst our observing members so that there will be a more complete reporting of
auroral occurrences in Canada. The programmes are to be geared to both positive
and negative observations of the aurora.
POSITIVE REPORTING PROGRAMMES
For many years most of those Centres in the Society making active observations
of the aurora were primarily reporting the appearance of displays of aurora. During
the I.G.Y. when, solar activity was high and auroral displays were frequent, a posit-
in reporting prograimne led to very accelerated auroral reporting activity even in
Centres which had been observing for many years priorto the I.G.Y. However, in
years of lowered solar activity, auroral displays tend to become much less frequent
and interest in the positive reporting programmes tends to wane.
It must be remembered that no matter how seldom aurora is seen in your locality,
your positive reports of aurora are extremely valuable in constructing maps of total
activity for the North American continent. No matter how seldom you see them, keep
reporting all auroras in your area!
NEGATIVE REPORTING PROGRAMMES
With the coming of the next important observing period, the International Quiet
Sun Year (or I.Q.S.Y.) in 1964, a negative emphasis will be applied to the observ-
ing programme to add to the already flourishing positive programme and to increase
the interest in NOT seeing auroras. The aim of the negative programme will be to
collect data on just how many aurora-less nights occur near of the sixteen R.A.S.C.
One copy of all reports will be made on the observing forms provided by the
National Research Council, in addition to any forms which the individual Centres
wish to use for the programme. The programme will involve individual observers
(now active in the N.R.C. Auroral Survey), who will contribute a copy of their
reports of clear, auroraÄless sky directly to N.R.C. as well as to their local
At the same time, the R.A.S.C. Centres wilt be asked to collect reports from
other individuals in their Centres who can report any portions of the sky free
from aurora. These reports could be made during observations of other astronomical
phenomena, say, while out observing the noon, planets, nova searching, etc. Also,
interested observers who due to inferior observing locations can only report on
AURORA Bulletin No, 2 (cont'd.)
a small area of the sky (such as those who can not see the northern sky) can report
on those parts of the sky that they can see and which are free of aurora. These
casual and partial reports can later be pieced together by the local recorder and
often the Centre will thereby be able to report "no aurora in clear sky" from a
composite of several of these negative views of the incomplete sky.
THE N.R.C. SURVEY OF AURORA
For information regarding observation of the aurora in co-operation with the
National Research Council's Auroral Survey, write to:-
National Research Council,
Ottawa 2, Ontario,
A supply of report forms, mailing envelopes and instructions is available on request.
The value of all positive observations of aurora can not be over-estimated, but
it must be remembered that negative ob…ervations are also very useful in the N.R.C.
auroral survey. To be most useful, negative observations should be made between
five minutes prior to the hour and five minutes after the hour. Made within this
ten minute interRal the data are easiest to handle in the N.R.C. data system, but
reports of "sky clear, no aurora" are valuable regardless of what time they are
made. Negative observations can be made with cloud cover approaching 40% of the sky,
especially when the northern sky or the north-south meridian is free from cloud.
The reporting of the presence, or absence, of aurora in the sky is important, so
Since the study of aurora is often interfered with by cloud cover, even occas-
ional reports made when the sky is clear and when it is convenient for the observer
to make out a report can serve as very useful data. A regular observer may be
clouded aut and unable to report on the very night when you CAN observe. It may
be YOUR report that fills the gap. So keep looking! And remember that "Nothing is
as good as Something so far as aurora is concerned".
I would be pleased to discuss methods of supplementing the N R C observing
programme for use in your local Centre. I have a very small supply of types of
report forms already in use for both negative and positive reporting programmes as
well as information concerning how to use observing data to make conclusions regard-
ing location and frequency of auroral displays. I shall be pleased to hear from
Thanking you for your co-operation, I am,
your National Co-ordinator
NOTE: Earl Milton
729 Cooper Street,
Ottawa 4, Ontario.
Aurora Section Bulletin No. 2