What started out as the Hermanus Astronomy Club when they formed in December 2007 with about 30 members, recently, in a Council meeting on Tuesday 21 April 2009, was unanimously approved to become an official ASSA Centre.
The extract below from the Government Gazette of 24 April 2009, proclaiming the AGA Act (Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act) being signed into power by President Kgalema Motlanthe, effective from 24 April 2009.
During a gala dinner held on 26 May 2009 at the Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, past ASSA president (2003/4), Case Rijsdijk was awarded a special award, recognising his outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI), for "enthusiastic communication of physics and astronomy to learners over a lifetime".
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) has been plagued by image quality problems, sometimes more severe than at other times. In between regular observations as well as during some dedicated engineering weeks, a whole series of tests were performed over the last three years as part of a meticulous investigation into the cause of this anomaly. The culprit was finally identified to be the SAC (Spherical Aberration Corrector), in particular its mounting interface onto the payload, aggravated by a degree of "print through" when the internal part of the payload gets rotated.
Around the World in 80 Telescopes was organised by ESO (the European Southern Observatory) and took place on 3-4 April 2009, coinciding with the 100 Hours of Astronomy event. It was a live 24-hour public video webcast chasing day and night around the globe to let viewers "visit" some of the most advanced astronomical telescopes on and off the planet.
The main Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy was the 100 Hours of Astronomy campaign, celebrated worldwide between 2-5 April 2009. Events could be registered on the 100 Hours website, marked as balloons on a map with links to the details of the event when you click on it. The South African map had balloons for Louis Trichardt, Irene, Hartebeespoortdam, Middelburg, Wellington, Stellenbosch, Newlands, Observatory, Camp's Bay, Fishhoek and even Gough Island! One cannot help but wonder how many people attended the latter event. Although some of the registered occasions were cancelled, most of the others were quite successful, despite non-ideal weather experienced by some.
What started out as a casual idea by Pretoria Centre members, Johan Smit and Danie Barnardo to invite some friends along to share a wonderful experience under the dark Karoo skies, ended up as South Africa's first National Star Party. It was attended by 38 people representing a slice of the stargazing community of South Africa. The gathering was held during the long weekend 25 to 27 April 2009 at the Kambro guest farm, 20 km north of Britstown.
It is astonishing how popular astronomy became with the general public in the last decade. There are a whole host of reasons for this - one of them most probably the publicity that SALT enjoyed but various radio programs on astronomy must definitely also contribute vastly. One cannot help but wonder what impact the IYA2009 will have on this. A crude barometer is the explosion in the number of visitors to Sutherland, the latest example being when almost 200 people attended the all night New Year's starparty held there.
South Africa has had a long tradition in astronomical parallax measurements (Glass, 2008), so when the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa was approached by D. Cenadelli, University of Milan, to do a parallax collaboration, it was natural for an ASSA member, L. Ferreira, (Garden Route Centre, ASSA) to respond positively. The reason for this collaboration is, that for astronomical parallax measurements a large baseline is needed, usually the diameter of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. But for planetary parallax measurements an Earth-bound baseline was sufficient. For the Moon even less will do.
As the acting director of the Double Star Section, I look forward to working with many of you and wish to take this Section back to the forefront of amateur observational astronomy in South Africa. I would therefore like to invite all those interested in observing double stars to contact me, so that we may share information and learn from one another and continue to submit as many observations as we can. From time to time I would like to publish reports and information on double stars on the ASSA website and in MNASSA. Your feedback on these articles will be greatly appreciated.
While at the Cape of Good Hope in 1752, the astronomer Abbe Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762) created a constellation among the stars which he named after the Geometer's Drawing Compass - a tool which, in his mind, was very new, handy and essential for building ships that sail the seas to discover new horizons and eventually new land.