Author: Keith Burnett

[Root ]

I work as a mathematics teacher in a small vocational college in the United Kingdom. I did a bit of astrophysics as part of my Physics degree, and I did a course in basic orbital mechanics, and a course in numerical analysis.

Needing to earn a living, I forgot all about things celestial (apart from the odd New Scientist article) until the recent interest in the comet Hale-Bopp. I found an ephemeris for Hale Bopp on the 'net (at the British Astronomical Association page), which listed the right acension and declination of this particular dirty snowball for each day. The BAA use B1950 coordinates as this fits in with their magnitude reference star charts.

I then dug out my old copy of Practical astronomy with your pocket calculator and worked out the altitude and azimuth of the comet, and went out and bought a pair of 7 by 35 binoculars. I got up at 05:00 one February morning and found the little smudge with the aid of a magnetic compass. I really must learn the constellatons.

I am old enough to

  1. remember Lost in Space the first time round,
  2. have watched the first episode of Dr Who,
  3. remember thinking that the Jodrall Bank Mk1 Dish was pretty neat,
  4. have typed BASIC line by line into a teletypewriter and waited a few seconds for the mainframe 10 miles away to respond,
  5. seen modems in 19" racks with phone dials on the front panel,
  6. seen a microcomputer called the Altair on the front cover of Practical Electronics, and thought 'that will never catch on',
  7. have used someone else's Apple II with 16K of RAM and a 5.25" disc drive, and thought the £2,000 price was reasonable,
  8. have used the TeX mathematical typesetting system on a timeshare minicomputer network
  9. know how to do algebra and mental arithmetic,
  10. have fellen asleep when a Man took a small Step (Dad stayed up to see, Grandad thought it was wonderful, Mum thought it cost a lot),
  11. written programs in Fortran IV with a card punch,
  12. have used Lynx before there was anything else.

[Root ]

Last Modified 4th May 1997
Keith Burnett