A SAAO-ASSA Scholarship for 2010 has been awarded to Riyaadh Jamodien who matriculated from Eben Donges High School, Kraaifontein, in 2009. This year Riyaadh is in his first year of studies towards a BSc degree at Stellenbosch University.
Two previously un-catalogued double stars are described. GSC 05842-00685 has component stars of magnitudes 12.2 and 13.3, separated by 15.1" in position angle 125.9°. GSC 05842-00089 has component stars of magnitudes 12.0 and 12.7, separated by 9.3" in position angle 67.4°. A third component is possibly located at a separation of 2.1" in position angle 72.9°.
The Director of Education & Public Communications of The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, Case Rijsdjik, has awarded Louis Trichardt High School Matric student, Cuan Watson, a Merit Award for his involvement during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.
After its initial success in 2009, the second Karoo National Starparty, arranged by the Pretoria Centre, took place on the weekend of 6 - 9 August 2010 at their usual venue about 20 km north of Britstown in the Karoo, right next to the N12 at the Kambro Padstal. The reason for this locality, apart from the fabulous Karoo skies, is that it is almost exactly halfway between Gauteng and the Cape Town area.
After an intensive and extended recruitment exercise Mr Kevin Govender has been selected as the first Director of the Office for Astronomy Development (OAD). The selection panel, which included both local and international senior scientists and dignitaries, reviewed a large international pool of expertise, before making the announcement.
The Infrared Survey Facility or IRSF at Sutherland, a 1.4m telescope dedicated to infrared surveys, was opened officially on 15 November 2000. It was the result of an agreement signed in August 1998 between the South African Astronomical Observatory and the Graduate School of Science of Nagoya University in Japan. Most of the cost was met by a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education but the building was paid for by South Africa. The observing time on the telescope is divided accordingly.
The recent IRSF conference in Japan was followed by an opportunity for the South African and other overseas delegates to visit the Kamioka Observatory in the mountains of Gifu province. This world famous installation is centred around a detector that searches for the elusive neutrino 'fundamental particles'.
NGC 1566 is the name of a beautiful nearby southern galaxy in the constellation Indus. It's a late type spiral galaxy that lies face-on to us. It's here that the author discovered his 100th supernova at the Bronberg Observatory, east of Pretoria, and so became the first amateur astronomer to reach that total in the southern hemisphere.
It is amazing what amateur astronomers achieve these days. With modern CCD cameras, anyone who is interested in the subject can produce images of a quality that a few decades ago, professional astronomers could only dream of. However, this sometimes creates the impression that unless you have a collection of fancy and expensive astronomical equipment, you cannot do any astronomy. This is not true, of course, and this paper presents an observing project of the planet Saturn that requires modest equipment only.
Over the past decade the green laser pointer has become an invaluable and indispensable aid for both professional and amateur astronomers. Initially only 5mW units were available, and whilst these worked well, more powerful units, with an output exceeding 100mW, became available. This enhanced performance proved popular, but unfortunately their use was abused by members of the public: they were used to "flash" aircraft and interfere with players at sport events
The explorer Amerigo Vespucci noted the Clouds as early as 1503, but it was Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer, who documented the Magellanic Clouds in the 16th century and named them after himself in his report. Imagine for a moment the amazement and wonder such a sight would have produced in those early seafarers.