Cape Centre News Letter, 21st July 2017

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

Lost and Found:

No one has claimed the ornamental plate left behind at the 2016 year-end function. We will keep it safe but will no longer advertise it in the newsletter.

Upcoming Events:

26 July, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Professor John Compton will present a talk titled Milankovitch Cycles, Climate, and Human Evolution. Milankovitch cycles are the effects of variations in the earth’s orbit, namely eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession, on its climate over long periods. In this talk he will explore some of the possible connections linking transitions in Earth’s climate, such as the transition from obliquity (41,000 years) to eccentricity (100,000 years) cycles, to the evolution of our human lineage in Africa. Climate change is of great concern to us today and he will demonstrate how it might have played a major role in our evolution over the course of millions of years. Professor Compton trained as a low-temperature geochemist, obtaining a Ph.D. at Harvard University and has worked at UCT since 1996 where he is currently Associate Professor of marine geochemistry. He has a passion for communicating knowledge of earth sciences and details of his books and YouTube videos can be found on his website.

9 August, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Another fun quiz based on the questions asked at outreach events. If you have any interesting examples please email them to or

30 (NOT 23) August, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr.Michele Dougherty, a South African born professor of space science at Imperial College London will present a talk.

V & A Waterfront Outreach

Despite the winter chill and high cloud on July 1, the telescope views were better than expected and business was brisk. Our thanks to all who came to assist and support, it was a most enjoyable event. The next on is on Saturday 29 July and members and friends are invited to participate or simply to drop by. As usual, an email will be sent by 12:00 if it is canceled due to the weather. Contact Eddy Nijeboer on 082-335-4851 / or reply to this email, if you would like to interact with members of the public and enjoy their excitement and amazement on looking through a telescope.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

22 July, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:   Dr Sean February will present a talk titled If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.

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

Iziko Planetarium

The new digital planetarium is an ideal destination for a wet winter day. It is astonishingly versatile but based on the wealth of astronomical data that has become available in recent years. Details can be found on



The latest 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:


Strand area.  Nexstar 5SE with extra eye pieces and filters. Excellent condition. Hardly used. R11 000 ono. Contact Claire or Leon on 083 607 3081


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.

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.