Nicolas-Louis de La Caille, the French astronomer who visited the Cape in 1751 to 1753 and made the first telescopic catalogue of the sky, was born just 300 years ago, on 28 December 1713. From September to December 2013 the Paris Observatory is holding an exhibition on his life and work.
Weather permitted continuous coverage of the eta Aquariids for the first time in many years. This fortunate occurrence allowed the author to observe the maximum activity, which peaked at around ZHR=135 ± 16 at about solar longitude (λ⊙) = 45.6°, on the morning of 2013 May 6, and at about double the zenithal hourly rate observed in recent years. A total of 256 eta Aquariids were observed in 15.68 hours observation by the author. A summary of the observations and derived shower data is provided.
Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon (hereinafter referred to simply as Comet Lemmon) peaked at around 4th magnitude in March 2013, and became an easy binocular object. This article summarises the observations and images made by several observers and sent to the author. Comet Lemmon was discovered on 2012 March 23. The first reported observation by ASSA members was by the author, who observed the comet visually on 2013 January 24, estimating the total cometary magnitude (m1) as 7.5. From then on the comet was reasonably well observed visually and photographically, though by only a few observers, until it became too close to the sun in mid March 2013. The comet was at perihelion on 2013 March 24, and was recovered in the morning sky on 2013 April 9, again by the author, and observed until May 7 when poor weather conditions prevented any further observations. The comet was placed too far north for observation thereafter. Note all dates in this article are in UT.
This is the first of what is planned to be several articles covering the history of amateur satellite tracking in South Africa during the period 1957 to the present. It will concentrate almost exclusively on optical tracking rather than being a complete record of optical and radio tracking. Whilst it will mainly cover amateur activity some professional astronomers played leading roles for the first year or so.
Besides the Moonwatch organisation several other organisations were interested in satellite optical observations and they will also be discussed. Each of the various Moonwatch stations will be described, and illustrated where possible, in numerical order of their station identification by COSPAR which was established by the International Council of Scientific Unions in October 1958 to continue the cooperative programmes of rocket and satellite research undertaken during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58.
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, 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.
Also included in this section are the colloquia/seminars at the SAAO, NASSP, UWC and the Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity Centre at UCT, ACGC. Also included are the SAAO Astro-coffees which are 15-20min informal discussions on just about any topic including but not limited to: recent astro-ph papers, seminal/classic publications, education/outreach ideas and initiatives, preliminary results, student progress reports, conference/workshop feedback and skills-transfer (Editor).
The Painter's Easel is a constellation which Louis de La Caille named Equuleus Pictoris in 1752, simplified to just Pictor by Benjamin Apthorp Gould in 1877. Most of the constellations named by La Caille represent instruments of science or the arts.
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