The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has released the National Strategy for Multiwavelength Astronomy, which is intended to allow South Africa to take full advantage of its geographical advantages, and to maximise the return on investment made in astronomy.
Students studying astronomy get to go on field trips, look through telescopes, visit the SAAO at Sutherland, and have their interest in the subject stimulated. In fact it is not astronomers we need in South Africa to develop and keep our big telescopes operating, it is computer scientists and engineers. Astronomers using data from SALT, MEERKAT and the SKA are part of a global pool of scientists, and can be located anywhere on the planet. Computer science and engineering students are not targeted for astronomy field trips (apart from those on the NASSP programme), which is why I, whilst working on systems engineering for the Square Kilometre Array, have been taking students to Anysberg Nature Reserve along with Cape Centre members.
Since last week, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland has been testing a Laser Frequency Comb, which is a calibration device that uses powerful lasers and photonic crystal fibres to produce the equivalent of a ruler that is both extremely long and has very finely spaced graduations. The pioneers of this decade old technology were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005.
Transits of Mercury occur 13/14 times per century, always in either May or November. Previous ones occurred on 1999, 2003, 2006, and the next will be on November 11, 2019 and then on November 13, 2032.
Most articles in the media covering meteors and meteorites slavishly repeat a number of erroneous details regarding the subject. This brief paper looks at the common misconceptions regarding meteors and meteorites.
There are three things that can be done with light collected by telescopes:
do some photometry, and
do some spectroscopy.
Amateur astronomers have in recent times started doing the first two, with remarkable success, and now more recently, spectroscopy. Using simple, low cost equipment they can produce the spectrum of any object that is accessible by the equipment that is being used. This has opened up a field of observation previously only accessible to professional astronomers using large telescopes. But like everything in life, the more precision one wants, the more expensive the equipment tends to become!
These form an important part of a research facility, often as a sort of prepublication 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.
Also included in this section are the colloquia/seminars at the SAAO, 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.
Hercules was one of the oldest constellations to be named and portrays the mythology of the past in a very special way. The "strong man" was seen as a hero crouching on one knee, bow and arrow in hand. The constellation Sagita was probably seen as the arrow shot off by him. Before the Common Era the constellation was simply called The Kneeler, but the real name ascribed to the strong man in antiquity was Ninurta, the War God. The constellation is the fifth largest of the 88 constellations inhabiting the starry skies.
Prof Nithaya Chetty of the NRF Astronomy Desk advises that a meeting to discuss historical projects that are in progress or proposed will take place at SAAO on 15 August. Short 15 minute presentations are proposed.
For the final issue of MNASSA of this year, December edition, I would like to get a record of all the small observatories in SA. The recent transit of Mercury indicated to me that there are a number, many of which I had never heard of before.