Cape Centre News Letter, 27th October 2015

Dear Cape Centre members and friends,



It has been increasingly difficult over recent years to find a site which is suitable for dark sky evenings and the feeling is that overnight trips further afield are the way to go. Ed and Lynnette Foster maintain that this holiday farm is as close to ideal as possible and urge Cape Centre members to try it out. Points in its favour are:


  • It is slightly under 200 km from Cape Town over good roads
  • It is at an altitude of 1000 m with a relatively low average rainfall
  • There is variety of reasonably priced accommodation on offer with well organised, family friendly camp sites costing a mere R75 per night
  • The owners have erected a special star gazing enclosure, with a toilet, well away from lights and sheltered from the wind, which means that it is not necessary to book the entire campsite to ensure a dark, quiet evening’s observing.

 The chief disadvantage is that there is no mains power in the shelter but if a sufficient number of amateur astronomers visit the farm, the owners might consider it worthwhile to lay on electricity.

 For more information see

A description of the visit on 9 – 16 October can be found on

and Ed’s technical information and summary of the site’s suitablity are in the attached document.

 Upcoming Events

28 October, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: As requested at the AGM, we will be having an evening where the members can browse both the Cape Centre library and our collection of telescopes and binoculars which are available on loan to members.

 4 November, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Professor Romeel Davé of UWC and SAAO will present a talk entitled Computing the Universe. Dr Liz Bartlett spoke about the role of computer modelling in her research into intermediate black holes and Prof Davé will expand on this theme, by telling us how numerical cosmologists are combining supercomputers with next generation telescopes, such as the SKA, to create a complete and verifiable history of the universe and to explain how it came to look the way it does today.

 25 November, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium: Dr Adriana Marais, a distinguished young quantum physicist and one of a hundred round three candidates for the Mars One Project will present a talk.

SAAO Open Nights and Public Events

14 November, 20:00, SAAO Auditorium:  Prof. Bruce Bassett (SAAO/UCT/AIMS) will present a talk entitled 100 Years of General Relativity – the Next Chapterto be followed by a tour of the site and star gazing, if weather permits.

Stargazing Weekends

6 – 8 November, Spring Southern Star Party: This will again be held at the Night Sky Caravan Park, Bonnievale, and there are still camp sites available. As always, there will be talks, astronomy and telescope training and competitions including the popular AstroQuiz. You don’t have to own a telescope or binoculars to participate and this is a good place to consult with experienced astronomers and astrophotographers if you are thinking of buying optical equipment. Visit the website at for further details.

4 – 6 December (not 13 – 15 November), Zoar Stargazing and Outreach Weekend: This a Cape Centre event 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 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, is planning to start a new 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

MNASSA can be read or downloaded from

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 and Wanted to Buy:


Doug Carlson has a Taurus Tracker III (as new, never used, for astrophotography with an SCT) for sale.  Anyone interested should contact Louis at Photographic Gear on 021 447 6276 office hours.


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 meetings.

Inline image 1
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 TOWN088 123 1634 | starline: 088 131 1001 | |

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