Cape Centre News Letter, 22nd September 2015

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

 2016 Sky Guides

Cape Centre members may buy Sky Guides at half price but they need to have paid their subs by the end of September in order to qualify. Contact us if you want one so we know how many to order from ASSA.

 Upcoming Events

23 September, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Liz Bartlett, a post doctoral fellow at UCT will speak about Intermediate Black Holes. Currently, the known population of black holes fall into two categories: stellar mass black holes and supermassive black holes. The former are the result of the gravitational collapse of the most massive stars at the end of their lives and have masses approximately between 5 and 20 times that of the Sun. Supermassive Black Holes are found at the centres of most, if not all large galaxies and have masses exceeding 100,000 times that of the Sun. A third group of Black Holes has been hypothesised, but not yet conclusively observed – intermediate mass black holes. As the name suggests, these are proposed to have masses greater than those of stellar mass Black Holes but significantly less than Supermassive Black Holes, between 100 and 1000 solar masses. In this talk Dr. Bartlett will discuss the evidence for and against the existence of this illusive category of black holes.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

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

10 October, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr. Rudi Kuhn (SAAO) will present a talk entitled Astronomy for every man, woman and child (and some interesting current topics).

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

Stargazing Weekends

Spring Southern Star Party: This will again be held at the Night Sky Caravan Park, Bonnievale, and will run from 6 – 8 November. There are still camp sites available and, as before, there will be talks, training and competitions including the popular AstroQuiz. Consult for further details.

Zoar Stargazing and Outreach Weekend: This is an event organised by the Cape Centre in which we will have the use of George Abrahams’ house in Zoar in the Klein Karoo. Additional people can be accommodated in the guest house for as little as R100 per person per night, depending on the number attending. We have permission to use the lawn in front of the guest house for star gazing and have agreed to allow some of the local school children to look through the telescopes during the early part of one of the evenings. Contact us if you are interested in attending.


The Partial Solar Eclipse and Jay Pasachoff’s visit

The clouds lifted just enough to allow observers some views of the eclipse and Professor Pasachoff gave a fasinating talk in Hermanus on his return from Agulhas. Afterwards the Hermanus Centre hosted a most enjoyable lunch for him and his party. Details of Jay’s observations and photographs can be seen on

Jay Pasachoff on the right with Lia Labuschagne (front), Pierre de Villiers (left) and Peta and Peter Cramb of the Cape Centre.

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

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 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 tomorrow, so let us know if you’d like to buy one then.

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