After having served for one year as president of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA), it is my privilege to present this report from the ASSA Council. It includes a brief overview of ASSA as an organization, followed by a brief summary of the activities of the Council during the year 2013 to 2014. Lastly, with the aim of providing some guidelines for the immediate future, I take a somewhat personal look back to my own interactions and involvement with ASSA over the years.
Report of the Trustees of the ASSA Endowment Trust (ASSET) to the Annual General Meeting of ASSA 2014: we are pleased to report that during the 2013 year, all outstanding amounts due to SARS have been settled.
ScopeX has now become a regular feature on the South African Astronomical calendar and was held this year on Saturday 13 September, once again at the Military History Museum in Johannesburg. Having started in 2002 it has grown from strength to strength and each year brings in new technology like Webinars and Webex talks giving access to a far broader spectrum of speakers and a richer programme. With the support of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, SAASTA a wide variety of outreach activities have also been possible.
It is with a great sense of loss that we have to announce the passing of Dr Jannie Smit, affectionately known simply as "Doc", long time member of the Pretoria Centre of ASSA and a noted variable star observer.
The author presents a phased Light Curve (LC) of the companion of PSR J1723-2837, a millisecond pulsar, from photometric measurements with a 30 cm telescope. Variation in the LC agrees well with the orbital period and provides supporting evidence for tidal distortion of the companion in the compact binary system. Short period irregularities in the LC were discovered around φ ~0.25.
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.
Who among us is not so familiar with the yet far-northern Pegasus constellation with its very clear square shape and, as a bonus, also appears fairly large. The constellation is very popular, especially with amateur astronomers who observe the depth of its deep-sky objects. To search this large constellation can be done just for fun, but it takes care and determination to study it thoroughly.
As someone who has long held an academic interest in the astronomical traditions of Southern African peoples, I have only begun to feel in the last few months that the topic was receiving the attention it deserves. In July the Tenth Oxford Conference on Archaeoastronomy brought to Cape Town international scholars of the relationship between astronomy and culture. Several conference sessions were dedicated to indigenous African knowledge of the sky. Dr Jarita Holbrook of the University of the Western Cape merits special praise for organising the fruitful scientific gathering. Her concerted efforts have done much to open new vistas in what is still an emerging field. For further particulars, see the conference website culturalastronomy.saao.ac.za and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/astroholbrook.