Cape Centre News Letter, 05th May 2017

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

Upcoming Events:

Cape Centre

10 May, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:  Professor Bruce Bassett will give a talk titled Gravitational Waves – Einstein’s Final Exam and a Revolution for Astronomy. Bruce studied applied mathematics at UCT and completed a PhD at SISSA in Trieste and a post-doc at Oxford. His doctoral supervisor was the physicist Dennis Sciama, a father of modern cosmology who has been PhD advisor to many eminent scientists, including Stephen Hawking and our own George Ellis. Bruce is currently a Professor in the UCT department of mathematics, an astronomer at SAAO and a senior researcher in cosmology at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time itself caused by colliding black holes and were first detected a little over a year ago by LIGO, opening up a new window on the Universe. In this talk, he will explore what they are, why Einstein predicted them a century ago, how they are created and why it has been so hard to find them. He will then discuss how they will revolutionise astronomy and end with the prospects of using gravitational waves to probe the very origin of the Universe.

17 (NOT 24) May, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Kate Storey-Fisher will speak on dark matter and dark energy.

V & A Waterfront Outreach

The next events are on 6 May and 3 June and all members and friends are invited to participate. It is not necessary to own a telescope, to be an astronomy expert or to attend every month. Contact Eddy Nijeboer on or the Cape Centre by replying to this email if you would like to share the pleasure of seeing what a telescope reveals of our solar system.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

13 May, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:  Isabella Ramala will present a talk titled Understanding the relationship between radio pulsar emission and pulsar timing

27 May, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:  Blaine Lomberg (UCT PhD student) will present a talk titled A robotic all-sky monitor to observe one star for one year.

All open night talks will be followed by a tour of the site and star gazing if weather permits.

The Royal Society Of South Africa And The Academy Of Science Of South Africa

17 May, 17:00, SAAO Auditorium:  Eric Harley FRSSAf, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town will speak on The White Rhinoceros. A problem in Conservation.

Iziko Planetarium

The digital upgrade is nearly complete and the grand opening will be on 27 May. Some exciting new shows will demonstrate its enhanced capability including Asteroid Mission Extreme, To Space and Back and Tycho to the Moon. Tycho is designed for young children but can be enjoyed by adults. Watch their website for details



The February 2017 issue of MNASSA can now be downloaded from


What’s Up:

Consult the ASSA website, the Cape Centre Facebook page.  or the SAAO What’s Up page  for observing highlights this month.

The SAAO Viewing the Sky page contains a wealth of general information about observing, including a list of interesting objects in the Southern sky, calendars of solar and lunar information including eclipses and a page of useful websites.

Items For Sale:

Sky Guides

There are still a few 2017 Sky Guides available for R55 a copy for paid-up members. They can be collected at Cape Centre meetings or can be posted at additional cost.


Dr Ian Glass is an authority on the history of the SAAO and of astronomy in South Africa and his recently updated book on the identification of Proxima Centauri as the nearest star to the sun, as well as his beautifully illustrated The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope can be ordered directly by emailing or from Thembela Mantungwa at

Cape Centre Mugs

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launching of the Hubble Telescope we have printed new mugs with 25 spectacular images. They are available to members for R70.

Lost and Found:

An attractive ornamental plate was left in the auditorium after the 2016 year-end function.

Reply to this email if you think it could be yours.

Please let us know if there is news that you may be aware of and that may also interest our other members.  Direct your mail at the general Cape Centre e-mail address and we’ll be happy to consider your item for inclusion.

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