The Pretoria Centre is proud to announce the dates for the ninth biannual astronomy symposium. The symposium will take place at the Silverton campus of the Council for Geoscience on Thursday 7 October and Friday 8 October 2010.
A very bright meteoric event took place over the northern parts of South Africa and southern Botswana / Zimbabwe on Saturday, 21 November 2009 at around 23h00. It was widely seen, as far north as Gweru, Zimbabwe, Durban in the south and Boshof in the west. A few surveillance cameras recorded footage of the actual meteor while others showed their night scene turn into "day" and shadows tracking the movement of the source.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is showing more and more interest in supporting the South African SKA bid as the decision between South Africa and Australia on the final site approaches.
Word has been received from Mrs Annette Joubert, Acting CSIR Archives and Record Service Manager, about the future disposition of the Union / Republic Observatory archives (see April 2009 issue of MNASSA).
In a recent statement, five entirely new South African SKA Research Chairs related to the SKA project have been announced by the Department of Science and Technology. These new Chairs will form part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The procedure for appointing these professors has now been streamlined : the slow and cumbersome process previously used caused serious frustration among previous possible appointees.
Meanwhile, on 10 December 2009, it was announced that MeerKAT Precursor, KAT 7, had seen its first interference fringes from a celestial source. The project reached a major milestone on 3 December 2009 when interference fringes were seen between two of the dishes which have now been constructed on the MeerKAT site.
Renée Hlozek's work on dark energy has won her this year's S2A3 Medal from the South African Association for the Advancement of Science. The medal, which comes with a R15 000 prize, is for original research at master's level and is awarded annually by each South African university and university of technology to the most outstanding master's degree research student in a scientific discipline.
A conference titled Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010 (CAP 2010) - Building on the International Year of Astronomy 2009 will be held at the Ritz Hotel, Sea Point, Cape Town, on 15-19 March 2010.
An announcement was made on 25 January by Dr A. van Jaarsveld, President of the National Research Foundation, that the Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory, Prof P. A. Charles, has been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation relating to "communication within the organisation".
ALMA is a large interferometric set of telescopes somewhat similar in concept to the SKA but working at much shorter wavelengths and designed to answer quite different scientific problems. It is a collaboration between US, European and Japanese radio astronomers and is situated on the Chajnantor plateau, at an altitude of 5 000 metres in the Chilean Andes.
At more than 100 solar masses and 4 million times the luminosity of our Sun, Eta Carinae is one of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy. It balances dangerously on the edge of stellar stability and its ultimate fate - complete self-destruction as a supernova. The continual brightening trend of the central star in the eta Carinae Nebula, regarded by some to be decades ahead of its expected schedule, has raised an alert among the professional community.
Geoffrey Burbidge (24 September 1925 - 26 January 2010) was a famous - and in recent years, controversial - theoretical astrophysicist who worked at the University of California, San Diego. He was born in England in 1925 and received his PhD from the University of London in 1951. His wife was Margaret Burbidge, equally famous as an astrophysicist, but on the observational side.
If there were ever a better example of the Energiser Bunny, it must definitely be NASA's two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, still operating, though not flawlessly, on the Red Planet since early 2004. However, the writing now seems to be on the wall for Spirit.
Does the SKA fall within South Africa's reach but may exceed our grasp? ... is one of the many statements that motivational speaker, Dr Adrian Tiplady, tackled in his keynote address at last year's annual NSTF (National Science and Technology Forum) Awards where Case Rijsdijk was recognised (see MNASSA 68, 5&6, p.92).
If there is one constellation named after one of the cutest little animals on earth, it has to be the chameleon - its slow, deliberate, step-by-step movement, elegant curly tail and historical appearance makes the chameleon one of the most impressive creatures ever. The dwarf chameleon occurs only at the south-western tip of South Africa, in areas of relatively dense vegetation. Another species is found in other parts of South Africa.