It had been brought to our attention that the statement in the Peter Smits obituary on p.165 of the October 2008 issue about Sir Richard Woolley banning amateurs from the Observatory site and forcing Council, Society and Centre meetings to be held elsewhere is incorrect.
Re your news note on Arthur C. Clarke in the June 2008 issue, you refer to him as one of the "Big Three" of science fiction along with Heinlen and Isaac Azimov. Well, maybe I always enjoyed his stories, but thought that his non-fiction works, such as How the World was One were far more important while being most readable and entertaining. He was much more than a science fiction writer!
After years of planning and preparation with everything as ready as can be for the forth and final servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the planned 14 October launch had to be abandoned literally days before liftoff when a serious anomaly developed and the telescope went into safe mode.
A unique feature of this serene seaside resort across False Bay from Cape Town, is the total absence of street lights, even in this day and age of high crime - which again proves the false sense of security that people perceive to be given by bright lights. What makes Betty's even more remarkable, particularly for lovers of the dark sky, is that the community is determined to keep it like this, instead of giving in to pressure from people who demand street lights.
September 2008 was quite a busy month in Sutherland, seeing the completion of two new robotic telescopes. While the lunch-box shaped building of one of them, MONET/South, has been part of the Sutherland skyline since 2003, the new roll-off-roof dome for the other, KELT-S, after numerous delays due to the exceptionally wet winter we experienced this year, was finally finished just in time for the arrival of its contents.
When I think back on the past year, serving as President of ASSA, I cannot help but feel grateful for the wonderful opportunity granted to me to make my small but hopefully valuable contribution to astronomy. Encouraging and promoting astronomy has been one of my highest priorities during my term, which I hopefully achieved. It was a great pleasure and bonus to travel the country to the various branches and to meet and make new friends. I also would like to thank my fellow councillors for their invaluable support and cooperation during the past year.
The Bronberg Observatory (25°54'32 S, 28°26'18 E, alt. 1 590 m) is situated 40 km south-east of Pretoria, on plot 39, Rietfontein JR 395, which is located on top of the Bronberg ridge, which stretches from Pretoria to just east of the observatory. The Observatory, which is run by Berto Monard, is also the dedicated African participant in the global CBA (Centre for Backyard Astrophysics) network under the name of "CBA Pretoria" and the dedicated observing station for the microlensing follow up network (uFUN).
In spite of its remote location in the then little-visited and almost unknown territory of South-West Africa (Namibia today), we saw previously (Spargo 2008b) that the second decade of the great meteorite's life opened with its existence being relatively widely known to the public in South Africa and the United States.
Astrolabes have an aura about them that generates fascination among people from all walks of life. Aficionados have ranged from the early English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, whose 'Treatise on the Astrolabe' of 1391 was written for a 10-year old boy, through the nineteenth-century pioneer of spectroscopic astronomy, William Huggins, to George Ellery Hale, the erstwhile promoter of giant telescopes. The attraction of astrolabes must stem from their beauty and collectability. Many of the surviving instruments exhibit exquisite workmanship that displays the most intricate detail and ornamentation.
Books on astronautics and space flight often fall into one of two categories; they are either aimed at advanced undergraduate or post-graduate level, or they are very basic and non-mathematical descriptions of the subject that feel somewhat hollow to the more mathematically inclined reader. This book fills the vacuum between these two extremes and provides one of the most enjoyable and accessible introductions to astronautics that I have yet come across.
One's first impression when picking up this book is that it is different from your average star atlas. Our perception of a star atlas is a relatively thin book with large pages, which often make it awkward to use and store. In contrast, Star Gazer's Deep Space Atlas is quite small (A5) and relatively thick (some 200 pages). But being spiral bound - which allows its pages to be folded back completely - together with its small size, makes it very nice and easy to handle, even with just one hand.
The constellation Sculptor is situated between Cetus to the north and Phoenix to the south. It dates back to 1754 when the astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille named 14 new constellations, the last of the 88 constellations recognized today. Originally called "L'Atelier du Sculpteur" (the sculptor's workshop) in French. However, I like the German version; "Bildhauerwerkstatte", it just says it all.