Cape Centre News Letter, 23rd February 2016

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,


Bernard Wagener

Bernard Wagener has been seriously ill in hospital but is thankfully feeling a little better. He may not receive visitors yet but his wife will pass on all inquiries and good wishes and says he really appreciates receiving messages from his friends.

New Committee Members

The committee would like to extend a warm welcome to Heather Sessions and Gerhard van der Poll who have volunteered to join our ranks. Heather had training and experience as a safety officer when she worked aboard a fisheries research vessel, so she will assist with safety functions. Gerhard will be our Librarian and has already repaired the locks on our bookshelves and completed a full inventory together with Eddy Nijeboer. We look forward to working with them but remind members that the committee is still undermanned, so all offers of assistance will be gratefully received!

Sky Guides

Please remember to collect your Sky Guides, if you ordered them. If you are unable to attend meetings then contact us to make another arrangement.

Upcoming Events

24 February, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Tana Joseph, an SKA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCT, will present a talk entitled Many eyes on the sky: Multi-wavelength astronomy in Southern Africa. She will speak about her work on multi-wavelength studies of high-energy binary systems using radio, optical and X-ray data from instruments such as MeerKAT and the Chandra X-ray telescope.

9 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Prof Jeff Murugan, Deputy Head of the Department of Mathematics at UCT and Deputy Director of its Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity Centre will present a talk. The topic is to be announced.

23 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Nicolas Erasmus of SAAO will present a talk on the Femtosecond Electron Diffraction technique for investigating material on the atomic level.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

27 February, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:   Elias Aydi of SAAO will present a talk entitled Are We Living in a Simulation?

12 March, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:   Cape Centre member Dr Christian Hettlage of SALT will present a topical talk entitled ‘From Falling Apples to Gravitational Waves’.

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

Field Trips

5 – 7 February, The Southern Star Party, Autumn 2016:   There was a record attendance at one of the best SSPs yet, despite soaring daytime temperatures and Ed Foster’s emergency hospitalisation with a kidney stone. Read about it on and you can view more photos on . Don’t forget to book early for the Spring party taking place from 26 to 31 October.

4 – 7 March, Leeuwenboschfontein: Not a formal event but amateur astronomer/astrophotographer Klaas van Ditzhuizen will be staying at LBF with his wife and the Fosters. Cape Centre members are invited to join them but will have to make their own arrangements. Find more information on the website or contact Joan on 023 358 1722 to book accommodation and let them know that you are coming for the astronomy.

11 -13 March, Cederberg Astronomical Observatory: Details are still to be finalised but please let us know if you are interested in joining a Cape Centre trip to this remarkable private observatory

19 – 20 March, The Anysberg Star Party:  Kechil Kirkham and Keith Gottshalk are taking a group of UCT and UWC students to the Anysberg Nature Reserve for a weekend of star gazing and astronomy-related workshops. Cape Centre members are cordially invited to join them. Email Kechil or reply to us if you are interested.

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.


The Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa  is the ASSA official journal and publishes material of interest to professional and amateur astronomers. Case Rijsdijk, the editor, has started a section called “On the Bookshelf”. The aim is to highlight recent books that members have read and that they feel others might enjoy. He is not looking for a review, just a title, author and a few lines about both – the sort of stuff you find on the dust cover/cover. Send your contributions to Case at or

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


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  . We still have a copy which can be bought for R150 at a Cape Centre 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.

Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ Newtonian:

This was an unwanted gift in February 2014, it cost R2950 new and has never been used. Lionel Veater, the owner, lives in the Strand, will accept a reasonable offer and can be contacted on 082 892 1520 or 021 853 5185 (home).


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

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