Cape Centre News Letter, 23rd March 2015

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,

Special Announcement

Kirstenbosch Star Walks: Any members or friends with telescopes are invited to help with this outreach which will continue into April if the weather is favourable.

Contact Eddy Nijeboer on or 082 335 4851 if you would like to volunteer. He needs to know who will be coming because there is limited access for vehicles on the upper road. Check Starline on 088 131 1001 to find out if the walk is going ahead. Because the cloud build up changes so rapidly Starline will be updated until 19:00.

Walks take place on Friday evenings at 19:00 for 19:30 but will be rescheduled to Saturday if the Friday walk is cancelled.

Upcoming Events

25 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Jonathan Schock of the UCT department of Mathematics will present a talk entitled A Briefer History of String Theory. He will take us through ideas of the fundamental nature of the universe from ancient civilisations through to the present and show us how scientists arrived at this controversial theory which underlies much current thinking in physics and cosmology

8 April, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Yannick Libert will talk about what it is to be a “field” astronomer. He was an Astronomer on duty for the Plateau de Bure Interferometer back in France and is now a member of the commissioning team of KAT7. Among other initiatives he is building a two-element radio interferometer on the UCT campus. 

His talk has been inspired by his work at Sutherland and elsewhere and he will be combining it with the practical example of the work he is currently doing regarding circumstellar envelopes around AGB stars. He will be speaking about what it takes to get the data for the work he and other professional astronomers do. Although a lot happens ‘remotely’ in astronomy today, there are still those weeks up on the plateau… indeed even people interested in astronomy probably do not generally  give much thought to how astronomers spend their working days, and especially nights, up there.  During his talk he will refer also to the teaching project he was managing when he was in Paris.

22 April, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Ros Skelton will talk on The Effects of Mergers on the Formation and Evolution of Galaxies. Galaxies form at the centre of dark matter structures and grow, not only by forming new stars but also by merging with other galaxies. The time scales present challenges to human observers and Dr Skelton will discuss her research as well as the questions that astronomers are trying to answer about these events. She is a post doctoral researcher who has studied galaxy formation at the Max Plank Institute in Heidelberg, Germany and at Yale University as well as at the SAAO where she has been based since mid 2013.

17 – 19 May, Midrand: IESSA Conference and AGM: Robert Henderson, the President of IESSA, has invited ASSA members to present a talk or a paper at this conference  ( If you are interested and available please contact Robert Henderson  083 960 3631 or Lerika Cross 082 650 8002.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

28 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Lee Townsend of UCT will present a talk entitled Using X-ray and optical telescopes to understand transient X-ray binary systems in nearby galaxies followed by a tour of the site and (weather permitting) star gazing.

11 April, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Professor Ted Williams, the director of SAAO, will present a talk entitledDoing Astronomy the Hard(ware) Way : Reflections on Travels with Instrumentation followed by the usual tour and observing.

Other Events of Interest

UCT Summer School :

24 March, 18:00 – 19:00, LT3, Kramer Building, Middle Campus: Dr Jonathan Schock will present a talk entitled Atmospheric Optics. For more information go to

Iziko Planetarium : Apart from The Sky Tonight  at 13:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, the exciting new showFull Circle is on every day, for those who didn’t attend the free showing in January or who would like to see it again.

Science Café: Thursday, Thursday 26 March 18:00: Simon Travers will present a talk entitled HIV: Why can’t we cure it?

Field Trips

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!


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 TOWN

088 123 1634 | starline: 088 131 1001 | |