Six years ago, in November 2005, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was inaugurated. In August the following year the first scientific results were reported by Dr Darragh O'Donoghue. It described a polar binary star system, containing a white dwarf with a very strong magnetic field, which strongly influences how the hot gases from its relatively ordinary companion reach the white dwarf surface. However, things did not continue so smoothly, and, as is typical with a complex scientific instrument, technical problems were encountered. A series of issues meant that serious science had to be put on hold as they were one by one investigated and resolved.
The 62nd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, under its President, Berndt Feuerbacher, was held in Cape Town 3-7 October 2011 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Dr Peter Martinez (SAAO), a former President of ASSA, was Chairman of the Local Organising Committee. The event was attended by about 3 000 delegates from about 80 countries. Among the notables attending were Charles F Bolden, Administrator of NASA and NASA astronaut Dr Catherine Coleman.
Acclaimed South African science journalist, Christina Scott has died in a tragic car accident in Cape Town. Until her unfortunate death on 31 October 2011, Christina was the managing editor at Research Africa, Cape Town.
I investigate the question of crescent visibility relying on modern data. The specific focus is a promising criterion for visibility when viewing by naked eye or binoculars (as later specifically defined), although telescopic observation will also be taken into consideration. The criterion makes use of the moonset lag (delay between sunset and moonset), together with auxiliary input based on the arc of light (angular separation between the Sun and Moon).
Planetary distances have been investigated within the context of the protoplanetary model of planetary formation. It is found that, if initially some stable protoplanetary objects are assumed to have formed in a belt near Jupiter, then mass loss from a set of protoplanets initially identical in mass, chemical composition and spin angular momentum can account for the observed distances of the planets of given mass as observed today.
The total eclipse of the Moon on 15 June 2011 was a great opportunity to document the lunar parallax. We all know that the position of the Moon relative to the stars depends on the observer's location on the Earth's surface. When the Moon is observed at the same time at two different sites, the difference between the two positions of the Moon relative to the background stars is the parallax.
These form an important part of a research facility, often as a sort of pre-publication discussion or a discussion of an individual's current research, and as such it is virtually impossible to "publish" this material. However by recording the topics discussed in the form below does indicate to those, who are unable to attend, what current trends are and who has visited to do research: it keeps everyone 'in the loop' so to speak.