Another Inventive Nova-Hunting Method
Hatayama takes the exposed roll to a photo lab in the morning and picks it up at night, during which he scans the negatives for new stars. "Since I do not have many clear nights," he says, "I have the time to search." What's different about Hatayama's technique, however, is that he doesn't use a blink comparator. He visually scans the negatives in an ingenious way. The first step involves creating a photographic record of the 85 search areas. He selects the best negative of the two exposures he has taken of each area, each selected image becoming part of his growing archive. When he photographs an area again on a later date, he takes the better of the two new exposures, overlays it on the light table with an archived negative, and then shifts the negatives so that the images are ever so slightly out of alignment. Using a loupe, he analyzes each pair of negatives. Since every star should now appear double, Hatayama simply searches for a single star a new star. "What makes this search method so remarkable," says Shigemi Numazawa, a fellow amateur from Niigata, "is that it is completely simple. It proves you do not need expensive equipment to make a discovery."
Despite differences in techniques and approach, successful nova hunters all share the same overriding virtue: perseverance. Nova hunters are a dedicated group who demonstrate infinite patience. Discoveries come, but many hunters spend years, even decades, before they uncover a new star they can claim as their own. Still, regardless of the slim number of "new stars" out there, any amateur armed with only determination and a camera or a pair of binoculars can be the next great nova hunter.