The 7th ScopeX was held on 24 May 2008. New additions this year were the Camera Obscura, which was a great success, judging by the comments from the visitors. Focused workshops aimed at the amateur sky gazer, the astrophotographer and those interested in photometry were presented by Auke Slotegraaf, Oleg Toumilovitch, Chris Middleton and Magda Streicher, President of ASSA.
On her way to the June ASSA Council meeting, Magda Streicher and her husband, attended a special "Evening with the President" gathering arranged by the Orion Observation Group (OOG), held at Devon Valley, near Stellenbosch on Sunday, 1 June 2008.
Towards the end of last year a smallish roll-off-roof building was built, making it the 12th dome to appear on the Sutherland hilltop. The facility is officially called the "Sumi-Hut" (named for the Sumitomo Foundation that supplied funding for the project) and it houses the WFCT II (Wide Field Cryogenic Telescope II), a special infra-red telescope whose interior, including detector and optics, is under vacuum and cooled to cryogenic temperatures.
Almost two years after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) caused a worldwide stir by downgrading Pluto's status from a 'proper' planet to a dwarf one, the word 'plutoid' has been introduced to describe "Pluto-like trans-neptunian dwarf planets".
Because of its discovery only three days after Easter 2005 (on 31 March 2005), Kuiper Belt object (136472) 2005 FY9 was originally codenamed "Easterbunny" by its Caltech discovery team. On the same day as Eris, its discovery was announced on 29 July 2005.
On 25 April 2008, NASA's Swift satellite picked up the brightest flare ever seen, found to come from a star emitting only one percent of the Sun's light and having only a third of the Sun's mass. This flare was thousands of times more powerful than the greatest observed solar flare.
On 11 June 2008 another of NASA's space observatories, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), was successfully launched. GLAST is an international and multi-agency space mission that will study the cosmos in the energy range 10 keV - 300 GeV.
Using infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have discovered that the Milky Way's elegant spiral structure is dominated by just two arms wrapping off the ends of a central bar of stars. Previously, our galaxy was thought to possess four major arms.
In a dramatic reversal of fortune for NASA, which suffered a devastating failure the last time the agency attempted a rocket-powered descent to Mars nine years ago, the Phoenix lander had a successful touchdown on Sunday, 25 May 2008, on flat terrain in the northern plains of Mars at 68.22 degrees north latitude.
The SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on 25 June 2008 celebrated the discovery of 1 500 comets since the mission began 13 years ago, making it more successful than all other comet discoverers throughout history put together.
One of Europe's leading manufacturers of high-precision optics, Optical Surfaces Ltd., has recently delivered three very accurate off-axis parabolic mirrors for the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in California.
In this article the history of Boyden Observatory, 'the first truly international observatory', from its establishment in 1889 to the present will be discussed. There will be looked at locations, personnel, research done and discoveries made. The discussion will also include sections on the instruments used during that time, with specific emphasis on the 60-inch Boyden Rockefeller Reflector Telescope. Details about the instrument's specifications, upgrades, new equipment and role as research instrument will be examined. A final section will then be devoted to where Boyden Observatory finds itself today and where it wants to position itself in the future, specifically in terms of research and education.
Corona Australis is a constellation that is not only very special in terms of its shape, but also deserves to be treated with the necessary respect. The constellation, which truly does resemble a crown of glory, is located just off the south-western region of Sagittarius, sometimes described as the "Queen's teapot in star form".