MNASSA October 2015

The October 2015 edition of MNASSA (Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa) is available on line.  Below is the title page and list of contents.  You may, however, go here, to download the full edition.

MNASSA DOWNLOAD PAGE

Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa


(ISSN 0024-8266)


Published by the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa


Latest issue
(click cover pic below for latest issue)
front cover
Contact information:
Fax: (Country=27) (City=21) 447-3639
Email: mnassa@saao.ac.za
Noon UT = 1400 local time
Mail address: MNASSA, c/o SAAO, PO Box 9, Observatory 7935, South Africa
MNASSA is published every second month, during the even months of the year. For more information, please see the inside front cover page of a recent issue as listed below.

Downloadable issues from June 2010 on have colour illustrations.

MNASSA October 2014

The October 2014 edition of MNASSA (Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa) is available on line.  Below is the title page and list of contents.  You may, however, go here, to download the full edition.

 

MNASSA DOWNLOAD PAGE

Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa

(ISSN 0024-8266)


Published by the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa

 

Latest issue
(click cover pic below for latest issue)
front cover

 

December 2013 edition of MNASSA

Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (MNASSA) Vol 72 Nos 11 & 12 December 2013

This latest edition of MNASSA has just been made available. Here is the contents page but you can download the entire document here.  Here is the cover for a sneak preview of the contents.

MNASSA_Dec2013_cover
Cover of the December issue of the ASSA’s quarterly journal, MNASSA.

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November 2013 edition of MNASSA

Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (MNASSA) Vol 72 Nos 7, 10 October 2013

This latest edition of MNASSA has just been made available. Here is the contents page but you can download the entire document here.

Editorial ………………………………………………………………………………..133

ASSA News
ASSA AGM 2013
ASSA Council Report, 2012-2013 – IS Glass……………………………………….133
Annual Report, Deep-sky Observing Section – Auke Slotegraaf…………………..136
Annual Report, Comet and Meteor Section – Tim Cooper…………………………138
Annual Report, Double Star Section – David Blane…………………………………139
Annual Report, Cosmology Section – Frikkie de Bruyn…………………………….140
Annual Report, Historical Section – Chris de Coning……………………………….141
Annual Report, Scholarships – Maciej Soltynski…………………………………….142
ASSA Council…………………………………………………………………………..144
ScopeX 2013 – Willie Koorts…………………………………………………………147

News Notes
2013 Astronomy Town Meeting……………………………………………………….151
Decadal Astronomy Plan for South Africa……………………………………………155

A Bright Nova in Delphinus (the Dolphin)
Brian Fraser…………………………………………………………………………….158

The Nearest Stars
 IS Glass…………………………………………………………………………………159

Astronomical Colloquia……………………………………………………………………………….166

Deep-sky Delights
Two fishes in the Starry Sea
 Magda Streicher……………………………………………………………………….175

SKA an R18bn boost to South African economy

SKA an R18bn boost to economy: Hanekom

The first phase of the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope in the Karoo could result in an inflow of R18bn into South Africa, says science & technology minister Derek Hanekom.

“Preliminary estimates for the operations cost put the potential net foreign inflow into South Africa — for SKA phase one only — at close to R18bn over the lifetime of the project, ” he said in a written reply to a parliamentary question. The construction on phase one of the SKA project is set to start in 2016. The funding model to build the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope was still being negotiated at an international level and the construction budget for SKA phase two has yet to be determined.

The project is managed by the international SKA Organisation, comprised of: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. An array of dish receptors will extend into eight African countries from a central core region near Carnarvon where a further array of mid-frequency aperture arrays will also be built. The eight African partners are Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia while a smaller array of dish receptors and an array of low frequency aperture arrays will be located in western Australia.

Noctuary Volume 2, Number 2 (June 2013)

Noctuary Volume 2, Number 2 (June 2013)

Table of contents.
Gallery: Other Worlds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02
An infographic of the 840 confirmed exoplanets (as at December
2012), showing their relative sizes, distribution of masses,
discovery methods and discovery time-line.

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

Southern Milky Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 07
The spectacular stretch of sky from the Coal Sack to eta Carinae,
imaged by Johann Swanepoel.

Astrophotography tutorial (Part 3) . . . . . . . . . . 09
The third installment of Brett du Preez’s astrophotography tutorial
discusses polar alignment.

Unveiling the mask of Venus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Earth’s evil twin sister exposed.

Three Galaxies in the Centaur . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Three deep-sky gems in Centaurus to be enjoyed.

The Rich Man’s Jewel Box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Think the Jewel Box in Crux is a stunner? You ain’t seen nuthin
yet. Plus: internet hoax exposed!

Briefly Noted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Some housekeeping announcements and other stuff that didn’t
fit in elsewhere.

Go here to download the entire issue of Noctuary or go here to download previous issues

Kepler’s Tally of Planets

NASA’s Kepler mission has so far discovered more than 100 confirmed planets orbiting distant stars. In the New York Times Kepler’s impressive record is depicted in a very interesting interactive graphic which you will find here.  All the planets, with a known size and orbit, are shown in the graphic, including the five planets orbiting Kepler 62, which were announced on April 18.  You can read the full article here.

Astronomers have announced finding a pair of planets which seem to have all the characteristics required to support life.  The pair are situated 1 200 light years away in the northern constellation Lyra.  As far as astronomical distances are concerned this is “just around the corner” but, taking into account the current technical abilities of human space flight, going there is currently only possible in the science fiction realm.

Nevertheless the discovery is very important as it adds to our growing knowledge and understanding of the universe. These two planets are the outermost two of five worlds circling a previously anonymous  yellowish star, slightly smaller and dimmer than our Sun, which will now go down in the cosmic history books as Kepler 62. These planets are apparently about half as large as Earth and initial indications are that they are rocky planets covered by oceans with humid, cloudy skies, although that is at best a highly educated guess.

William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, head of the Kepler project, described one of the new worlds as the best site for Life Out There yet found in Kepler’s four-years-and-counting search for other Earths. He treated his team to pizza and beer on his own dime to celebrate the find. “It’s a big deal,” he said.

Sadly, as things stand now, it is unlikely that anybody will ever know if anything lives on these planets. The odds that humans will travel there any time soon without some “Star Trek” technology are negligibly small, but the news has certainly sent astronomers over the Moon.

Universality of Circular Polarization in Star- and Planet-forming Regions: Implications for the Origin of Homochirality of Life

A  research team headed by Jungmi Kwon, has carried out deep imaging linear and circular polarimetry of the ‘Cat’s  paw Nebula’ (NGC 6334) located in the constellation Scorpius.  Their results indicate levels of circular polarization (CP) as high as 22% in NGC 6334 which is the highest level of CP ever observed.

The team has also carried out the first systematic survey of both linear and circular polarimetry in nine star- and planet-forming regions. Their results from the various star-forming regions show the presence of CP in all of these regions. These results are assumed to indicate that CP is a universal feature of star- and planet-forming regions.

The processes involved in star and planet formation and the origin of life are neither clear nor generally agreed upon and Jungmi Kwon’s team, from GUAS, NAOJ, and JSPS, are working on these problems. The team used the IRSF 1.4 m telescope with SIRPOL imaging
polarimeter at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland. The telescope and instrument are operated by Nagoya University, Kyoto University, and NAOJ. SIRPOL is an instrument developed by the group that enables them to simultaneously obtain information about both circularly polarized and linearly polarized light. It also enables wide-field imaging polarimetry (~ 8 x 8 arcmin square = ~ 1/4 diameter of the Moon), of a considerably wider field than other instruments. The IRSF/SIRPOL combination has one of the highest performances at present available for detecting polarized light (either linear and/or circular) in the near-infrared over a wide field of view.

Life on Earth makes extensive (almost exclusive) use of “left-handed amino acids (L-amino acids)”. The question of why organisms on Earth preferentially utilize L-amino acids instead of D-amino acids or D-sugars instead of L-sugars is as yet unresolved. The effort to solve this problem is of paramount importance if the outstanding issues surrounding the origin of Life are to be resolved. The knowledge that CP, which is known to influence molecular chirality, occurs much more widely than previously suspected in star-forming regions, could be an important part of the missing information required to satisfactorily explain the origin of Life.

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