Arrangements for the second National Karoo Star-party which will be held over the weekend of 6 to 9 August 2010 are progressing well. The Kambro Padstal, about 20 km north of Britstown in the Karoo, where the event will be held, is nearly booked out but accommodation in nearby Britstown offers alternative options.
The Executive Committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has selected the SAAO, a national facility of the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), to host the IAU Office for Astronomy Development (OAD). The Office is the key component of the decadal global strategy plan, Astronomy for the Developing World, launched at the 2009 IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is aimed at using astronomy to foster education and capacity building throughout the world.
Accurate time signals are extremely important for various astronomical observations, including occultations. For many years we have relied on the WWV time signal broadcast on various shortwave frequencies, including 5MHz, 10 MHz and 15 MHz stations. That after the South African signal, ZUO, was discontinued about 15 years ago.
On 22 April 2010 the United States of America launched the first of a new type of satellite that has been identified as a BOEING X-37B "Spaceplane" or OTV (Orbiting Test Vehicle). The exact purpose of the whole mission has been deeply shrouded in secrecy. It therefore proved a great challenge for our Amateur Satellite Tracking Group, specialising in tracking down classified payloads and it took us almost a month to bag this extremely elusive spacecraft.
The apparently insignificant constellation Antlia lies just south of Hydra and borders Vela to the north, lying along the branches of the Milky Way. French astronomer and celestial cartographer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille was responsible for creating some of the newer southern constellations when he visited the Cape of Good Hope from 1751 to 1753.