The spacecraft 'Deep Impact' that analysed the light when an object was slammed into comet Tempel 1 in July 2005, still lives on doing good science, now in the guise of the EPOXI mission (Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation). EPOXI is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components : a search for extrasolar planets during its cruise phase to comet Hartley 2, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the eventual flyby of the comet, called the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI).
A team of two astronomers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has for the past 12 years been mounting an astrometry instrument to a telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego. After careful intermittent observations of 30 stars, the team has identified a new exoplanet around one of them - the first ever to be discovered using astrometry.
The 'Friends of the Cape Town Observatory' is a new organisation at an early stage of formation. Its objectives are to restore the old telescopes and other astronomical artefacts at the Cape Town observatory site, and include taking an interest in the grounds and museum. It aims to ensure that the old telescopes are maintained in a proper state for all to enjoy. Many members of the public, teachers and learners visit the observatory each month, and the 'Friends' feel it is important that they can present astronomy in Cape Town in its proper context as a prominent contributor to science on a world stage.
South Africa's second micro-satellite, SumbandilaSat, meaning 'lead the way' in Venda, will hopefully be launched by the time you read this issue. The launch from a Russian Navy submarine was originally scheduled for 2007 but, for reasons that have never been officially divulged, the arrangement with the Russian Defence Ministry fell through. Later, Russia's civilian space agency, Roscosmos, stepped in and offered a land-based Soyuz launch as a secondary payload. It had been hoped that this would take place in March 2009, but it was postponed to early May because of the rescheduling of a manned mission.
Thus far the IYA2009 has been an astounding success. In a press release from the IAU (International Astronomical Union) marking the six-month milestone of the IYA2009 on 1 July 2009, it was stated that over a million people have already looked at the sky through a telescope for the first time. Even more are newly engaged in astronomy. This is just one of many achievements, one of countless ongoing projects and planned initiatives. The indications are that the IYA2009 is well on the way towards achieving many of its goals.
This book accompanies the Official International Year of Astronomy 2009 DVD. The DVD resembles a really good TV programme on the history of the telescope. It is a spectacular history of the telescope, with popular appeal.
At first glance this book appears to be of the coffee-table genre because of its size, format, layout and huge and stunning pictures, some spanning the full two pages of a spread. But when you start reading it you soon realise that its comprehensive content presents a full window on the Universe, uncovered layer by layer. It is well illustrated with very complete picture captions, packed with supplementary information presented in text boxes and it includes a glossary of certain terms, marked in bold when they occur for the first time in the text.
Telescopium has no outstanding binaries - in fact, all its visual binaries have rather faint primaries (sixth, seventh, eighth magnitude or even fainter). There are about 25 or so double stars in this constellation, most of which are very challenging targets. Telescopium is more remarkable for what it lacks, rather than for what it contains, and is not usually an observing target for amateur astronomers. Let's have a look at some of the double stars in this constellation!
Would we ever - even in our wildest dreams - have been able to imagine the universe as we know it today if we had not had any telescopes? We owe the telescope the most honorary position in relation to the stars, because without doubt it is this faithful instrument that reveals so much of the truth to us.