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Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa
Vol 64 Nos 1 & 2 February 2005
mnassa vol 64 nos 1 & 2 february 2005
Occultations and time signals for
Brian Fraser, Director of the Occultation
There is now an initiative to get more
amateur astronomers involved in observing
occultations. To observe an occultation you
need to have three pieces of information.
Firstly, you need to know your geographical
position very accurately - to better than
10 meters. This includes the altitude of your
observing site. With the use of a ..
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Retirement of Profs Warner and Ellis
Prof Brian Warner of the Department of Astronomy,
University of Cape Town, and Prof
George F.R. Ellis, Distinguished Professor
of Complex Systems at the same university,
a well-known cosmologist, retired during
Both intend to continue working. Warner
has specialized in high-speed photometric
observations of stars and has discovered
many interesting phenomena relating to
novae, x-ray sources and stellar pulsations.
When he came to South Africa in the early
1970s, he brought with him a minicomputer-
based photometer technology developed
in collaboration with R.E. Nather in Texas.
His students over the past ..
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Hipparchus' long-lost star catalogue
discovered on Roman statue
American astronomer Bradley E. Shaefer
announced at a meeting of the American
Astronomical Society his discovery that the
long-lost star catalogue of Hipparchus, which
dates back to 129 BCE, appears on a Roman
statue called the Farnese Atlas. Hipparchus
was one of the greatest astronomers of antiquity
and his star catalogue was the fi rst
in the world, as well as the most infl uential.
The catalogue was lost early in the Christian
era, perhaps in the fi re at the great library in
Alexandria. The Farnese Atlas, currently in ..
Extracted from text ... mnassa vol 64 nos 1 & 2
Libyan telescope largest in N.Africa
Libya has ordered a R 73 million telescope
from France, a facility that will give it the
fi nest astronomical views in North Africa.
The telescope was ordered by Libyan leader
Moammar Gadaffi , who has a passionate interest
in astronomy, according to the French
magazine Ciel et Espace (Sky and Space).
Built by Sagem, a French electronics
group, the 2-metre telescope will be remotecontrolled
and housed in an air-conditioned
building, with a network of four weather
stations deployed at a distance of 10 km
around it ..
Extracted from text ... mnassa vol 64 nos 1 & 2
David Stanley Evans
(1916 - 2004)
We are sorry to have to report the death on 14 November 2004 in Austin, Texas, of David
S. Evans who, for over twenty years, played an important and stimulating role in South
African astronomy. When he came to South Africa in 1946, fundamental positional determinations
and photometry dominated the astronomical scene. By the time he left, the
Radcliffe Observatory and the Royal Observatory Cape were active in astrophysics and the
efforts that eventually led to the establishment of SAAO were well under way. He played an ..
Extracted from text ... february 2005
Photographing the Moon's parallax
Dept Mathematical Sciences, UNISA, PO Box 392, Pretoria 0003, South Africa
We all know that the Moon shows a parallax, and that the position of the Moon relative to
the star background depends on the observer's location on the Earth's surface. But it is dif-
fi cult to photograph the lunar parallax, because the Moon is so bright. During a total lunar
eclipse, however, the period of totality can be used to document the lunar parallax, because
the totally eclipsed Moon is faint enough to allow taking pictures which ..
As in 2003, we were treated to two further Total Lunar Eclipses (TLEs) in 2004. This series
of four TLEs, all of which were visible to some degree from southern Africa, enabled us
to compare conditions in the Earth's atmosphere over a relatively short time scale. In order
to ensure observations were made according to standard procedures two articles were published
in MNASSA (Cooper & Geyser 2004, Cooper 2004). The reader is referred to these
articles for the methodology used for observing lunar eclipses. This article reviews the observations
received for the two eclipses of 2004, and makes some comparisons for the four
TLEs of 2003 and 2004. All times are UT.
The Universe's origin in a Big Bang was followed by rapid expansion
and cooling. Protons and neutrons precipitated out of the cooling primeval fireball
of elementary particles, and were able to fuse together by nucleosynthesis to
produce light elements such as deuterium, helium and lithium. The abundances
of these elements can be used to constrain models of the Big Bang. The primordial
abundances have been modified by stellar nucleosynthesis. Observational
determinations of abundances are beset by many problems, and extrapolating
these values to a primordial abundance has several complications. The methods
used to set limits on primordial abundances are discussed.