The last issue of MNASSA focussed on Amateur observatories in SA. As a continuation of this topic, this issue will focus on some of the highlights and work done at these Observatories. This is not an exhaustive description, but rather an overview of the type of work they do.
A bizarre binary star system (se cover picture) has been discovered where a degenerate white dwarf pulsar is “lashing” its red dwarf companion with its strong magnetic field and beamed radiation every minute as it spins on its axis. This is the conclusion reached by a small team of three South African and two UK astronomers who have just published a paper in the new journal Nature Astronomy, announcing their discovery of strongly polarized pulsed optical emission from a white dwarf, a so-called degenerate star, in the binary system known as AR Scorpii, establishing it to be a white dwarf pulsar.
Despite a lifelong interest in Astronomy, my serious interest in high resolution planetary and lunar imaging really took off in early 2014. With this came the steady growth of an international network, with contacts being made in various international organisations and forums. One of these was the British Astronomical Association, in particular its planetary and lunar sections.
After nine successful years of discoveries at the Bronberg Observatory, we moved to Calitzdorp, Klein Karoo at the end of 2010. A new observatory was erected early in 2011 and SN searches were resumed from the new environment, one as it would turn out, with unpredictable weather and often bad seeing.
Observing the Large Magellanic Cloud led me to find a small round patch of nebulosity just 2.7' south-east of NGC 2035. All the nebulae in this area were brilliantly enhanced with an UHC Filter through the 12" telescope, 218x. I could not find any data about this nebular patch, so I forwarded my query to Brian Skiff, a professional astronomer at Lowell Observatory.
These form an important part of a research facility, often as a sort of prepublication discussion or a discussion of an individual’s current research, and as such it is virtually impossible to “publish” this material. However by recording the topics discussed in the form below does indicate to those, who are unable to attend, what current trends are and who has visited to do research: it keeps everyone ‘in the loop’ so to speak.
Studying and appreciating the northern night skies can sometimes be difficult for those of us living in the southern hemisphere. Nevertheless, it is important to describe a few of the northern constellations, since they are home to some of the most interesting objects known.