Cape Centre News Letter, 09 February 2015

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

 Upcoming Events

11 February, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Michael Kosch, a distinguished South African academic who has over-wintered a number of times at the SANAE base in Antarctica and who currently holds the position of Chief Scientist at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) will present a talk entitled Sprites in Space.

25 February, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Prof. Guy Midgley, a leading climate change scientist and expert in the field of biodiversity will present a talk on the role of satellites in monitoring global temperature change as well as estimated species extinction and its effect on biodiversity. Prof. Midgley has had a distinguished academic career and was part of an international team who were awarded the Nobel prize in 2009.

 SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

14 February, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Prof. Romeel Davé (SARChI Chair UWC) will present a talk entitled Computational Cosmology: Modeling the Universe on a Supercomputer. This will be followed by a tour of the site and (weather permitting) star gazing.

14 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Associate Prof. David Thrilling (Visiting scientist from University of Northern Arizona) will present a talk entitled When asteroids hit the Earth. This will be followed by a tour of the site and (weather permitting) star gazing.

Other Events of Interest

Prof Bengt Gustafsson, a famous Swedish astrophysicist, is visiting South Africa as theAcademy of Science of South Africa’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar. He will be giving popular lectures as outlined below with details in the attached fliers.

Monday 16 February, 16:30 for 17:00, Teaching Venue 3A, New Snape Building, UCT
: The emergence of truth in natural sciences

The process whereby a scientific hypothesis becomes “true”, or when postulated abstract objects acquire the status of existing in reality, is fascinating and probably tells us more about humans and our culture than we generally believe. He will give several examples of this process from the physical sciences and discuss what characterizes it. Refreshments from 16:30, lecture starts at 17:00

RSVP 021 650 3817

Tuesday 17 February, 16:30 for 17:00, SAAO Auditorium: Black holes – past, present, and future  

The history of black-hole research is almost as fascinating as the holes themselves. Prof Gustafsson will sketch the history, describe the present knowledge, and finish with the problems remaining and the remarkable solutions that have been suggested for their resolution. Refreshments at 16:30, talk at 17:00

Wednesday 18 February, 17:30 for 18:00, STIAS Auditorium 1: “Under a lucky star?” If so, find out what is so special about our Sun. RSVP or021 808 2653 – seating is limited

This is a popular talk about his recent work in astronomy

Cape Town Science Centre, 36 Buitenkant street, Cape Town

Thursday 29 February 18:00 – 20:00: Ebola – From the Frontlines of the Epidemic

Epidemiologist Dr Kathryn Stinson and infectious disease specialist Dr Rosie Burton will join forces with social scientist Dr Sarah Crawford-Browne, wildlife veterinarian Dr Patricia Reed and epidemiologist Gem Patten, who recently returned from Sierra Leone, to provide some insight into the Ebola virus and the current outbreak that’s wreaking havoc in West Africa.

Field Trips

Thursday 12 February 2015, 10:00:  Visit to the Palmiet Pump Storage Scheme near Grabouw : Installations like this one, which can be brought on line very quickly, are especially useful during periods of load shedding such as we are experiencing at present. There are still a few places available so contact Richard Jones if you would like to attend. Last minute applications accepted until 15:00 on Wednesday. Please do not reply to the Cape Centre e-mail address.

 February 20 to 22: 2015 Summer Southern Star Party: Another exciting gathering of stargazers and astrophotographers of all levels of expertise at the Night Sky Caravan Park near Bonnievale. The usual interesting and varied programme will includeBeginners Observing Sessions for newcomers, talks by expert members on a number of fascinating topics and, of course, the World Famous SSP Pub Quiz. Bookings have closed but there may still be a campsite available. Contact Ed and Lynnette Foster

March 27 – 29 (depart 29), Anysberg Nature Reserve: Chris and Kechil are organising another star-gazing trip with students to Anysberg. The last trip in 2012 was a great success:  We have again secured the reserve and we are looking for funding for the students. Kechil is following up with the SKA. We can book out the cottages on a first come first served basis. Please let Kechil or Chris know if you are keen and how many there will be in your party. The cottages have different accommodation arrangements and if you recall from last time have very comfortable beds and bedding. All you have to bring is yourself, braai food for two nights, and of course a telescope if you have it.

Hope you can come!

Items for sale

Sky Guide 2015: There are still a few copies available at R60 (less than half the bookshop price). These are normally reserved for paid up members but will be available to non members if there are any left over.

Cape Centre Mugs: Decorated with beautiful images of some of the planets and their moons, they are great for hot drinks while star gazing, keepsakes or gifts. Available from Frank Jacobs at our meetings, R40 each.

We attach flyers for Prof Gustafssen’s talks.

There are also notes on the Sky in February, compiled by  Peter Harvey of the Hermanus Centre of ASSA (HAC) and made available courtesy of our ‘sister’ centre.  Hope you find those useful.


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.

Cape Centre of  the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa

P O Box 13018, Mowbray, 7705, CAPE TOWN088 123 1634 | starline: 088 131 1001