In the Report of the Double Star Section, published in the August 2007 edition of MNASSA, the Director of that section bemoans the fact that efforts to encourage amateur astronomers in Southern Africa to submit double star observations have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. This comes as no surprise to me - when I held the post of Director some years ago, I experienced the same disappointing phenomenon.
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The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) was held on 25 July 2007 at SAAO, Cape Town, hosted by the Cape Centre. The reports of the various ASSA Sections were published in the August issue of MNASSA.
We had a very busy year and managed to arrange activities that included not only talks on a wide range of theoretical and practical topics, but also excursions and a number of public "outreach" activities.
It has been another eventful year for the Johannesburg Centre of ASSA. When looking at the goals we had set last year (and some taken from previous years too), great strides have been made towards the realization of key elements that were placed on the agendas of committee actions gone by.
The 10.4-meter, Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC or GranTeCan) in La Palma recently achieved "first light". This important milestone was reached one year before the end of its nominal 7-year construction period, with 12 of its final 36 hexagonal mirror segments in place.
The author received a call during a business dinner at the Bedford Centre, reporting a bright object seen in the sky from just outside the same Centre! I must have missed seeing the event myself by 5 minutes.
Many people are probably aware of the amazing service that Google Earth offers. Its creators have now got Google Earth to look up with equally astonishing results. Google Sky, formally called "Sky in Google Earth", is made up of stitched photographs of the heavens, pieced together to make a one giant navigable seamless view of the night sky.
Bring the whole family for a fun wildlife day and night sky telescope viewing (stargazing) experience of a lifetime under clear, unpolluted skies at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve (www.rhinolion.co.za) in the Cradle of Humankind at Kromdraai near Krugersdorp.
By the time this appears it will be exactly 50 years since the first artificial earth satellite was launched (4th October 1957) so it was thought appropriate to cover satellite tracking software in this issue. This also rubs in the fact that I have been tracking satellites for 50 years!
Aquarius is by no means just another constellation - it's quite simply something exceptional in its own right. Aquarius the water-bearer spreads out its lanky image just north of Capricornus the sea-goat.
The following is an extract from an actual letter to Richard Thorburn Ayton Innes (1861-1933), the first director of the Union Observatory, Johannesburg, written by Herbert Hall Turner (1861-1930), Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. The person quoted was Sir David Gill (1843-1914), His Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape and one of the greatest observational astronomers of his time.