In with the new: Astronomers can now drive research telescopes using their smartphones! An in-house SAAO team has recently released new software to drive the new SHOC instrument which is used on the SAAO's 1.9 m and 1 m telescopes. Originally, SHOC was controlled using software supplied by the camera manufacturer Andor. However, in order to fully customize the software and to allow for future extensions, the SAAO team collaborated to produce new Open Source software to drive SHOC via a web-based user interface. This new software also has the advantage of allowing users to control the SHOC instrument from any location, ushering in a new era of remote observing at the SAAO.
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Foundation and South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) are delighted with the success of the SALT Science Conference 2015 held in Stellenbosch from 1 to 5 June. The programme was jam-packed with talks, poster presentations, practical workshops and discussions showcasing SALT's capabilities. Over ninety astronomers and education professionals attended the conference representing over twenty nationalities. Delegates from international astronomical institutes from seven countries attended the conference to foster scientific collaborations and enhance partnerships with the South African astronomical community. Education and outreach professionals also contributed to the conference programme in recognition of the pivotal role that SALT has played in the advancement of astronomy and science education and in skills development within South Africa.
South African amateur astronomers recently played a pivotal role in tracking a secret satellite. The fourth flight of the secret US Air Force mini-shuttle, also known as the X-37B or OTV-4 (Orbital Test Vehicle) was launched by ULA (United Launch Alliance) atop an ATLAS V rocket from Cape Canaveral on the 20th May 2015 at 15.05UT. As per previous missions of this spacecraft only the first four and a half minutes of the launch were carried live on internet TV before a news blackout took place to conceal the orbit of the classified spacecraft.
John Franklin-Adams 1843-1912 was one of a small number of extraordinary (and wealthy!) 19th century British amateurs who made important contributions to astronomy, including Nasmyth, De La Rue, Carrington, Roberts and Huggins.
Various amateurs have referred to Boötes as the constellation that does not in any way reflect its name. The constellation is supposed to represent a herdsman (a worker) who is pushing the Great Bear (Ursa Major) through the heaven lies by the tail, or chasing it with his hunting dogs Canis Venatici. He was also seen as the son of Jupiter and Callisto.