Elkanah House at Kogelberg Farm Hostel near Grabouw: 17 February 2016.

Auke Lynnette and I set out on Wednesday afternoon for the appointment with Carl Fourie (Head of Department: Mathematics at Elkanah House) and his group of senior learners from the school (you can visit their webpage here), who were spending a few days at the Kogelberg Farm Hostel (visit this site to find out more about this venue) on the farm Casey’s Ridge near Grabouw (see here for more about Grabouw) in the heart of one of South Africa’s principle apple and wine producing areas. Casey’s Ridge farm is owned by Vrede en Lust vineyards in Franschhoek (go here to read more about them) and its vineyards produce some of Vrede en Lust’s award winning white wines. the Kogelberg Farm Hostel is situated just a few kilometers west of ESKOM’s Palmiet Pumped Storage power generation facility (go here for more information) or read the article about our visit to the site here. Casey’s Ridge also borders the Kogelberg Nature Reserve (go here to read more about the Reserve)

TOP LEFT: The Vito parked in a nice shady spot at the Kogelberg Farm Hostel adjacent to the Southern section of the accommodation. TOP RIGHT: The Northern section of the accommodation. BOTTOM LEFT: View along the front of the Southern section back toward the parking area. Charl (blue shirt) is standing in the doorway of the “lecture venue”. BOTTOM RIGHT: The learners begin to arrive for Auke’s talk.
TOP LEFT: The Vito parked in a nice shady spot at the Kogelberg Farm Hostel adjacent to the Southern section of the accommodation. TOP RIGHT: The Northern section of the accommodation. BOTTOM LEFT: View along the front of the Southern section back toward the parking area. Charl (blue shirt) is standing in the doorway of the “lecture venue”. BOTTOM RIGHT: The learners begin to arrive for Auke’s talk.
TOP: Auke and Lynnette in a nice shady corner. BOTTOM: Auke advising two learners on the finer details of constructing the Southern Star Wheel.
TOP: Auke and Lynnette in a nice shady corner. BOTTOM: Auke advising two learners on the finer details of constructing the Southern Star Wheel.
TOP: Carl Fourie doing the introductions prior to Auke’s talk. BOTTOM: The assembled learners at Auke’s talk.
TOP: Carl Fourie doing the introductions prior to Auke’s talk. BOTTOM: The assembled learners at Auke’s talk.

We started the visit with a very informative, short presentation by Auke on the Universe. Unfortunately he was hampered by projector problems which were the result of either overheating or an unstable power supply. After the talk the group set about building Southern Star Wheels in preparation for the evening’s viewing.

The building of the Star Wheel turned into a very social occasion with more watchers than builders.
The building of the Star Wheel turned into a very social occasion with more watchers than builders.
The building session drawing to a close as suppertime approaches at 19:00.
The building session drawing to a close as suppertime approaches at 19:00.
The Rugby/Soccer field seen from outside the Hostel, is in a lovely setting. The netball court is just outside the photograph to the right.
The Rugby/Soccer field, seen here from outside the Hostel, is in a lovely setting. The netball court is just outside the photograph to the right.

While the group went off to supper, we drove down to the viewing site on a netball court and also had our supper, courtesy of Lynnette. After supper we set up and waited. The group arrived but, for some unknown reason, the message about bringing the Star Wheels did not seem to have registered because, apart from two that I saw, there were none there. Auke did an extensive what’s-up-tonight, pointing out a wide range of interesting objects and constellations and, after that Lynnette operated Maphefu and Lorenzo while I set the Celestron on the Moon.

The first stars are out and the first clouds have also started rolling in as well. Note the glow just behind Lorenzo on the right. That is probably a farm with well intentioned security lighting that is badly positioned or mounted. The result is that it now wastes electricity by sending a load of photons into the sky where they serve no security purpose whatsoever.
The first stars are out and the first clouds have also started rolling in as well. Note the glow just behind Lorenzo on the right. That is probably a farm with well intentioned security lighting that is badly positioned or mounted. The result is that it now wastes electricity by sending a load of photons into the sky where they serve no security purpose whatsoever.

Not having heeded Martin’s instruction to write down the settings for various types of objects, but rather trusting my memory, I could find everything but not produce the sort of imagery the system was really capable off. Mrs Foster’s little boy really seems to have a persistent learning disability.

TOP: Auke doing the what’s-up-tonight with the learners seated in the centre of the image. SECOND FROM TOP: Those interested enough to forgo the attractions of the cuddle-zone are gathered around Lorenzo and Maphefu at the right of the image. SECOND FROM BOTTOM: As the evening progresses the learners slowly leaked back to the Hostel on the hill to the left of the image. BOTTOM: Some remained interested in what Auke had to say and what they could see through Lorenzo and Maphefu while others remained in the cuddle-zone.
TOP: Auke doing the what’s-up-tonight with the learners seated in the centre of the image. SECOND FROM TOP: Those interested enough to forgo the attractions of the cuddle-zone are gathered around Lorenzo and Maphefu at the right of the image. SECOND FROM BOTTOM: As the evening progresses the learners slowly leaked back to the Hostel on the hill to the left of the image. BOTTOM: Some remained interested in what Auke had to say and what they could see through Lorenzo and Maphefu while others remained in the cuddle-zone.

As for the learner who snubbed Lynnette, when she told somebody that the darker areas on the moon were lava plains, by remarking to bystanders, “Just ignore her, there is no lava on the Moon”; I would like to suggest that said person should do some reading. It might then be possible to convert a Smart-ass to a Bright-ass. Lynnette was just too polite to take you down a peg or two.

TOP: Carl discussing some astronomy with me before he also headed for the comfort of his bed. SECOND FROM TOP: The telescope group had by now reached zero although the cuddle-zone was still occupied. SECOND FROM BOTTOM: Lights on as I start packing up . BOTTOM: The last stragglers say goodnight to a ghostly Auke.
TOP: Carl discussing some astronomy with me before he also headed for the comfort of his bed. SECOND FROM TOP: The telescope group had by now reached zero although the cuddle-zone was still occupied. SECOND FROM BOTTOM: Lights on as I start packing up . BOTTOM: The last stragglers say goodnight to a ghostly Auke.

Generally all went well and I thought that the group of learners, who were more interested in catching up on cuddle-time than in astronomy, was significantly smaller than on the previous encounter. In all fairness though, it was lot warmer on the netball court than on the grass at Dassenberg Broilers, where we saw them last (go here to read about that occasion) and also a whole lot less windy. Thank you very much for the opportunity to do the presentation Carl, the learners and Elkanah House.

Constellation Cards (ConCards)

A set of very useful star charts compiled in 2009 by the ever industrious Auke Slotegraaf. One per constellation visible from the southern hemisphere, identifying the best deep sky objects. Ideal for binocular users and star party presentations.

What you have here is a set of star charts, one per constellation. All the constellations that are at least partially visible from the southern hemisphere are illustrated but Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco and Ursa Minor have been omitted as these are too far north.

Each constellation has the official boundaries of the constellation in a bold dashed-line. These boundaries can be used to help you orient the card correctly when you’re still learning to find the constellations using the finder charts on pp 2-6.

Each ConCard also shows the positions of the best deep-sky objects and other interesting objects within that constellation. Special charts for objects of particular interest – the Horse Head Nebula, 3C 273 (the brightest quasar) and Proxima Centauri (nearest star to the Sun) – are also presented. Several deep-sky catalogues and observing aides make up the remaining pages.

The ConCards are presented as A4-sized pages for those who prefer a larger print. You could also have them printed A5-sized, double-sided and then spiral-bound to create a smallish, handy and comprehensive guide to the southern sky.  Go to this link if you wish to access a free copy of the ConCards.  If you wish to read more about the ConCards and other useful aides go here.

Southern Star Wheel

A planisphere is a very usefull tool for learning your way around the night sky. It shows the rising and setting of the stars, and how the constellations relate to one another.

The Southern Star Wheel  is a revolutionary new planisphere developed by Auke Slotegraaf in 2009, that is a substantial improvement on previous planispheres because it is customisable.

If you live in the big city and can only see the brightest stars (or are still learning your way around the night sky), you can select a simplified “star disk” that shows only the major stars. If you want to learn the shapes of the constellations, use the star disk that delineates their stick figures.

More experienced users can use an advanced star disk that shows many more (fainter) stars. And if you’re interested in the ethnoastronomy of southern Africa, there is a special star disk that shows some of the most famous indigenous stars and patterns.  Go here to download your copy of this brilliant addition to your astronomy arsenal.

Please note that the Southern Star Wheel is designed very specifically for the Southern Hemisphere.  You can also visit Auke’s site to find out more about the Southern Star Wheel.

MNASSA Vol 72 Nos 5 & 6,, June 2013

MNASSA Vol 72 Nos 5 & 6, levitra , June 2013

Contents

Roy Smith (1930 – 2013)
G Roberts……………………………………………………………………………………………………….89
Synchronizing High-speed Optical Measurements with amateur equipment
A van Staden………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 91
GRB130427A detected by Supersid monitor
B Fraser…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..101
Moonwatch in South Africa: 1957–1958
J Hers………………………………………………………………………………………………………………103
IGY Reminiscenes
WS Finsen……………………………………………………………………………………………………….117
Astronomical Colloquia…………………………………………………………………………………….122
Deep-sky Delights
Celestial Home of Stars
Magda Streicher………………………………………………………………………………………………127

The June 2013 issue of the Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa can be downloaded here

NOCTUARY – February 2013 Edition

The latest edition (February 2013) of NOCTURAY is available.  To wet your appetites here is the table of contents and if you wish to read the full articles go here.

Gallery: Comet Lemmon . . . . . . . . . . . . . … . . . 02
A selection of photographs of the lovely Comet Lemmon that
graced the deep southern skies during January and February.

From the Archimedes Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . 03
Interesting bits and pieces to pique the astronomically curious.

Deep-sky Highlight: The Blue Planetary . . . . 06
A deep-sky gem hiding in Centaurus.

Dark Emu Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 07
The spectacular dark nebula complex known to some as the Dark
Emu rises, in pursuit of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Astrophotography tutorial (Part 2) . . . . . . .  . . 09
The second installment of Brett du Preez’s astrophotography
tutorial takes a personal detour.

Jargon Jambalaya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Some astrojargon explained.

The Tale of Hydra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
A convoluted story surrounds the largest, and one of the most
ancient, constellations.

A South African Champion . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 24
The nearest star to the solar system has been seen by few people.
Use this finder chart to catapult yourself amongst the elite.

Noise vs. ISO in Astrophotography . . . . . . . . . 25
What’s the best ISO setting to use on your DSLR when taking
astrophotos? Here’s one way of finding out.

Briefly Noted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
Some housekeeping announcements and other stuff that didn’t
fit in elsewhere: Lacaille’s Sky – On the Cover – Noctuary
downloads – About Noctuary