《周興明先生略傳》(by 陳棟華先生)

此文已發表在ICQ Vol.26 No.3(July 2004)。

Xingming Zhou (1965-2004)
Early on the morning of 2004 August 5 (Beijing Time), we were shocked by the sad news that Xing-ming Zhou, one of the most outstanding Chinese amateur astronomers, died from a traffic accident at age 39. On the way back to his home (in Liancheng County) from attending the sixth Cross-Strait Astronomy Popularization and Education Workshop in Fuzhou city (all in Fujian Province), Zhou’s motorbicycle happened to be struck by another at 8:30 p.m. on August 4, which caused a fatal head injury. Despite valiant attempts to save his life at a local hospital, Zhou died eventually at 5 a.m. on August 5. The bad news spread quickly via Internet, shocking many in the astronomy community worldwide.
On 1965 March 6, Zhou was born in the 89th District of Bole Production Constructive Unit, Xingjiang Province, in northwest China. He had two elder brothers and one younger brother. In 1985, he graduated from Lanzhou Meteorology School, then joined the Xinjiang A’lashankou Meteorology Station (which bordered Kazakhstan to the north). In 1993, he worked as computer network administrator in the State Aerography Bureau in Bole City, Xinjiang Province. Zhou was engaged in operation management and was concerned with (a) the development and establishment of a meteorological weather-forecast audio and video system; (b) the development of an editing and broadcasting system, the 9210 project (meteorological Information Combine Analysis Process System); (c) computer-network maintenance and administration; (d) application software for meteorological operation; and (e) network-service system application. Zhou lived and worked in Bole, where he had a happy family — his wife, Yu Xin, and his ten-year-old daughter, Ying-zhen Zhou.
Zhou took great interest in astronomy beginning in 1979, when he was only 14 years old. On 1983 May 11, after observing the comet C/1983 H1 (IRAS-Arski-Alcock), he transferred his efforts to comet searching and observation. Before 1989 June 22, Zhou used a 55-mm-diameter (25x) aerological theodolite to search for comets. After this date, he used a self-made 150-mm-aperture f/5.3 refractor at 25x (the objective lens provided by NATRC) to watch the skies. From 1985 Sept. 1, when Zhou formally started comet searching, until 2004 Apr. 15, he had searched comets on 1705 different occasions, with 1728 hours and 7 minutes of accumulated searching time. During the time he searched for comets, especially in the early and middle periods, Zhou found 20 comets independently and observed many known comets, despite having little access to comet ephemerides (A’lashankou, Bole is a remote place where transportation and communication are difficult). On 1985 Oct. 17, he independently discovered the comet C/1985 R1, and this achievement was honored by the Purple Mountain Observatory as the first Chinese amateur finding since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Zhou’s independent discoveries of comets C/1990 N1 and C/1995 S1 were recognized (cf. IAUC 5058; ICQ 17,161), though the news arrived too late for either comet to be named for him.
Starting in 2001, Zhou became one of the most successful SOHO-website comet hunters. Altogether, he found 63 SOHO comets and the SWAN comet C/2004 H6, ranking fouth in the world in this regard. Among the SOHO comets found by Zhou, C/2001 U9 was one of the brightest Kreutz-sungrazing comets and C/2003 G3 Was one of the brightest non-Kreutz comets. The finding of the SWAN comet encouraged him to pursue the new goal of finding minor planets. Unfortunately, this dream did not come true due to his untimely death. In order to honor his achievement on searching of SOHO comets, the well-known American-Chinese astronomer Cheng-yuan Shao bestowed him with a set of the Millennium Star Altas.
Zhou was also an active meteor observer. He observed many meteor showers and accumulated more than 50 hours’ worth of observations that were collected by the International Meteor Organization and utilized by research astronomers in China and elsewhere. Zhou was a member of the Chinese Astronomical Society, councilor of the Xinjiang Astronomical Society, and the editor of the Chinese Amateur Astronomer magazine. His website ‘Silk Road Astronomy Pages’ (in Chinese,
http://comet.lamost.org/) conveys a wealth of valuable information on meteors, SOHO comets, and non-SOHO comets, as well as his observing data and articles — and has become the best comet website in China. Moreover, Amateur Astronomer magazine frequently published Zhou’s insights and instructions regarding astronomical observing. Xing-ming Zhou’s untimely passing is a great loss to Chinese amateur astronomy and to the international comet community.
                               ——- Dong-Hua Chen
   周興明先生於1965年3月6日出生在中國最西北的新疆省博樂軍墾農場89團。他有兩個哥哥,一個弟弟。 1985年他從蘭州氣象學校畢業後,到新疆「阿拉山口」(最西北的中國與哈薩克斯坦國邊界)氣象站從事氣象預測工作。 1993年後,在新疆博樂市州氣象局擔任計算機網絡管理員。他從事過業務管理,參與單位的氣象預報聲像系統、編播系統二次開發、9210工程(氣象衛星綜合應用業務系統工程)以及計算機網絡維護管理、氣象業務應用軟件、網絡服務系統應用開發的建設和工作。博樂市,是周興明先生生活和工作的地方,在那裡他有一個幸福的家庭--相濡以沫的妻子辛渝女士和他的10歲女兒周穎真。
   周興明先生興趣天文始於1979年,他14歲。 1983年5月11日,他第一次看到彗星C/1983d(Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock)後,他將他的興趣轉向彗星的發現和觀測。 1989年6月22日前,他的尋彗儀器是口徑55mm,放大率25x的小球測風經緯儀。之後,他使用自製的口徑150mm,焦距800mm,放大率25x的尋彗鏡(物鏡由南京天儀廠提供),繼續他的尋彗和觀測。自1985年9月1日他正式開始尋找彗星到2004年4月15日為止,周興明先生總共尋彗1705次,累積尋彗時間達1728小時7分鐘。這期間,特別是在他的尋彗早、中期,在沒有任何有關彗星信息的情況下(阿拉山口,博樂是個交通,通訊不暢的地方),周興明先生獨立找到20顆彗星和觀測了許多已知的彗星。 1985年10月17日他獨立找到的彗星C/19851(C/1985R1, Comet Hartley-Good)被我國紫金山天文台的專家譽為「新中國成立後的第一個業餘發現」。此外,他還發現彗星C/1990I(Comet Tsuchiya-Kuichi)和C/1995S1(122P/de Vice),被CBAT認可並通報他是這兩顆彗星的獨立發現者之一。
  2000年底後,周興明先生成為世界上最成功的SOHO彗星獵手之一,他總共發現了63顆SOHO彗星和一顆SWAN彗星(C/2004H6),排名世界第四。由於他在SOHO彗星搜尋上的功臣般貢獻,致使我國以發現總數71顆SOHO彗星而排名世界第五位。在他發現的SOHO彗星中,C/2001U9是最亮的克魯茲族彗星之一,而C/2003G3則是最亮的非克魯茲族彗星之一。 Swan彗星的發現,促使他擬定他的下一個目標--小行星的發現。很遺憾,他未能實現他的目標,卻隨著他的這顆SWAN彗星而去。為表彰他發現SOHO彗星的功績,美籍華裔天文學家邵正元先生委託普委會在2004年8月2日「第6屆海峽兩岸天文推廣教育研討會」上頒發給他一套「世紀星圖」 (Millennium Star Atlas),以資獎勵。
  同時,周興明先生還是一位活躍的流星觀測者。他對英仙座、獵戶座、寶瓶座、牧夫座、天龍座和獅子座等流星雨的多年觀測,已積累了50多個小時的觀測數據資料。由於他的觀測規範,質量高,這些觀測數據資料得到國際流星組織(IMO)的專家Rainer Arlt的首肯,並被我國和國際上多位天文學家在學術論文上採用。
   周興明先生是中國天文學會會員,新疆省天文學會理事以及中國惟一的正式的業餘天文刊物《天文愛好者》雜誌的編委之一。他的網站--「絲路天文」,包含了許多珍貴的有關SOHO彗星、彗星、流星資料以及他本人的觀測成果和他的文章。這個網站是中國大陸最優秀的有關彗星的網站。 《天文愛好者》雜誌頻繁地刊登他的見解獨到,精辟易懂而又頗具指導性的文章。周興明先生的過早逝世,是中國業餘天文界的重大損失,也是世界彗星搜索領域的一大損失。
《周興明先生略傳》(by 陳棟華先生)