Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rarotonga Airglow Photometer - 1968

Airglow image - NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre photostream - FLICKR

What is airglow?

Airglow is a very weak light emission from the planetary atmosphere. The phenomenon was first identified in 1868 by Swedish scientist Anders Angstrom.

Airglow is caused by processes in the upper atmosphere such as ions and cosmic rays and chemicals reacting with the atmosphere to create light emissions.
It is not noticeable during the day because of the light from the sun. The above image shows airglow as blue.

Completed Airglow Photometer

A photometer is an instrument for measuring light intensity and in this case airglow.

We found a progress report for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) New Zealand, contract 32 - Airglow Photometer to be used at Rarotonga during the period 30 August 1968 - 10 April 1969.

Data-recording equipment for the Photometer

The report contains a technical evaluation of the project and a financial report.

The University of Canterbury Industrial Development Department (UCIDD) completed its part of the construction work on the photometer and then the instrument was delivered to the Physics department with minor modifications to be done prior to packing and shipping to Rarotonga.

There were some initial problems encountered, including

  • A method of subtracting the background stellar noise from the signal. This background tended to obsure the desired airglow signal.

  • The need to move 3 filters in order to successfully measure the red signal, the red background and the green signal individually.

  • The need to greatly reduce the noise arising in the photomultiplier detection system, so as to significantly improve the signal noise ratio.

    A solution to all three problems was obtained.

Test jig

Side view of the Filter drive

Rear view of Filter Drive with the servo-motor

Front view of the Rim Drive with 3 filters

Figure 7 (above) represents a scan of the planet Mars and the star Antares. Both of these very red stellar objects are quite bright in the sky. As a result the scan was run on a rather insensitive setting of the photometer amplifiers.

Mr R.K. Malcolm worked on the project as a PhD student under the sponsorship of the DSIR Fellowship.

See letter of results here:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Retro equipment brochures

We discovered the below brochures in the Warehouse the other day. They all appear to be for state of the art equipment for use in the Uni in the 1960s/1970s. The colours and images are lovely and must have been flash at the time. The logos and fonts are very stylised, simple, and tonal. Quite different to what we would see in brochures today for similar equipment.

Linhof is a German company, founded in Munich in 1887 by Valentin Linhof. The company is well known for making premium rollfilm and large format film cameras.

The first Technika model was designed in 1934 and was the world's first all-metal folding field camera.

Josef Rodenstock founded the company in 1877 with the first fine mechanical workshop in W├╝rzburg, Germany. By 1891 he employeed 120 people. They produced eyeglasses, accessories, binoculars and pipes, microscopes, magnifying glasses and also numerous cameras and photo lenses. The company expanded over the years and be 1953 already had 2100 employees.

The Imagon has a variable softness lens. The brochure states
"Here, the possibility of varying the picture softness or sharpness not only permits perfect modelling of the characteristic features of the subject, but also eliminates time consuming and costly retouching of disturbing details such as pores, small wrinkles, facial hair etc. This feature will be particularly useful in colour photograhpy."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Files! Files! Files!

Recently in the Information and Records unit, we have been sorting through many many many stacks of files.

We took these lovely photos to document the state of the place during this procedure.

Also, we have spent a considerable amount of time sorting through old records in the warehouse to create more space...Look at our fun mess...

And here is our interim boss while our real one was on leave...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our students lost in the Great War

We found this document while looking for some records related to the University’s high country lands. It is a list of Canterbury College students who laid down their lives in the Great War.

This Roll of Honour shows the degrees of the graduates marked against their names.

The list is mainly correct but letters attached to the roll suggest a few names were missed off the roll. One such name was William Carnegie Lyall who had passed through the College and was killed in action in 1918.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Science block and cars

We came across this image the other day and it took our fancy. Lovely shiny cars against the backdrop of the brightly lit science lecture theatres. We guess it must be in the early 1960s.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Canterbury alumni - Ernest Rutherford

One of Canterbury University's most distinguished alumni is Ernest Rutherford. He attended what was then called Canterbury College from 1890 - 1894 and obtained three degrees. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. His work was important in developing the framework for 20th century nuclear science.

Rutherford worked here in the 'old tin shed' which housed the Chemistry and Physics laboratory at Canterbury College until WWI. His lecturer at the time was Professor Bickerton who also taught John Erskine and was to become notorious in NZ for his positons on marriage and society

Rutherford's mathematics lectures were conducted here in the old Mathematics lecture room under Professor Charles Cook. Interestingly Professor Cook had a long-standing rivalry with Professor Bickerton.

For more information on Rutherford see the University library

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flight 712

Recently while cataloguing the University Warehouse records we came across the below letter which had been salvaged from a plane crash (flight 712) in London in 1968. The letter was a application from a Mr. C.E.Manning of Southampton University, United Kingdom to work in the UC classics department. The crash occured after the engine fell off the aircraft in flight. Five of the 127 on board the aircraft were killed in a major fire, although the plane made a safe emergency landing. As well as the passengers, the aircraft was carrying baggage, mail and a radioactive isotope destined for the University Hospital in Jerusalem.

Although the letter was delayed, Mr Manning still got the role as a lecturer in the Classics Department.

Charles Manning lectured at the University of Canterbury from 1968 to 2001. He was a Christchurch City councillor from 1980 to 1983 and 1986 to 2001. He was appointed as a Environment Commissioner in July 2001.