Cape Centre News Letter, 08th September 2015

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

 Upcoming Events

9 September, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Jacobus Diener, a post doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Theoretical Physics, will present a talk entitled The Neutron Star Equation of State.

Neutron stars are formed from the ashes of exploded stars and are so compressed that they are considered to be a kind of atomic nuclei. Nuclear physics is the study of atomic nuclei and has given us radiocarbon dating, x-rays, MRIs and the infamous atomic bomb. We study nuclei using experiments which involve colliding particles in machines called particle accelerators (like the LHC at CERN). To understand the finer detail of nuclei these collision have to take place at increasingly higher energies.  Hence we are building bigger machines to probe increasingly smaller length scales. 

But there is another way to investigate nuclei: their characteristics become apparent in extremely dense (hence high energy) environments, such as the interior of neutron stars.  These “giant nuclei” emit radio-waves which the MeerKAT telescope, currently under construction in the Karoo, can easily detect.

23 September, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Liz Bartlett, a post doctoral fellow at UCT will speak about Intermediate Black Holes.

Partial Solar Eclipse 13 September

Professor Jay Pasaschoff, Professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Massachusetts and Director of the Hopkins Observatory, will be in South Africa to observe the partial eclipse early on Sunday 13 September. He will be at Cape Agulhas during the eclipse, after which he will travel to Hermanus to present a talk. Cape Centre members are welcome to join the observing party at Agulhas but will have to organise their own transport and accommodation. The Hermanus Centre have also invited us to join their observing party in Hermanus and to attend Prof Pasaschoff’s talk at about 12:30. After the talk they will be having lunch at a local restaurant to which we are invited. Let us know if you want to join any of these activities, particularly the lunch in Hermanus

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

12 September, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Itumeleng Monageng (UCT PhD student) will present a talk entitled Gamma ray binaries.

26 September, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Ian Glass of SAAO will present a talk entitled Proxima Centauri, the Nearest Star.

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

The Royal Society of South Africa

Wednesday 16 September, 16:30, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Sean Kaliski, Principal Specialist at Valkenberg Hospital, will present a public lecture entitled Crime, heredity, genetics & environment.


Kirstenbosch Winter Star Walks:

We had over 100 people attending the walk on 4 September, including many children. Our thanks to all the volunteers who brought their telescopes and a special warm welcome to Georg Mayer, our former chairman, who is on holiday from London and who took the opportunity to join us on that lovely evening. We will probably start summer walks in October.

Observing Officer and Safety Officer(s): We need volunteers for these positions. The Observing Officer will liaise with the observing sections of ASSA and will manage dark sky activities within the Cape Centre. Safety officers will make sure that safety standards are observed during any Cape Centre event. Our vice chairman, Eddy Nijeboer, who has many years of experience in industrial safety, has volunteered to act as chief safety officer but needs other volunteers to assist him and to attend any events where he is unable to be present.

Iziko Planetarium: Check their website for information about their shows for all ages, events and courses. They also supply a useful sky map and summary of the evening skies for the current month

Showing a visitor the Southern Skies:

An American, Avery Golden, will be in Cape Town during September 18-21 and asks if anyone is prepared to show him the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere. Let us know if you would like to share some stargazing with him for that new moon weekend or contact him directly at

Items For Sale:

In the centenary year of the South African identification of Proxima Centauri as our nearest star, the updated book by Dr Ian Glass is available for R80 + postage and can be ordered directly from him at or from Thembela Mantungwa at

He has also written a book on the history of the Royal Observatory in Cape Town, its buildings, achievements, conservation, heritage and setting between the Liesbeek and Black rivers. It is called The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, it has 138 illustrations and can be obtained from Ian or Thembela or at any SAAO Open Night for R150. We will have copies for sale at our next meeting

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.


Enrico Danieli has a Celestron 130mm EQ Newtonian, an Orion 8″ Tracking Dobsonian and a Short Refractor and wants to buy or build something larger. He asks if anyone has a larger dobsonian or a mirror for one. Contact him at if you can help.


Don’t forget to look us up on Facebook and ‘like’ our page there if you have not done so yet.   We share a lot of information about events etc, but also some information of a general astronomy-interest nature on that page.

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.


Your Cape Centre Committee

Cape Centre of  the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa
P O Box 13018, Mowbray, 7705, CAPE TOWN

088 123 1634 | starline: 088 131 1001