Cape Centre News Letter, 12th May 2014

Talks in May and June

Formal meeting 14 May: Dr Éric Depagne, a SALT Astronomer, will give a presentation entitled How to know almost everything about just anything, without ever getting close?Spectroscopy is one of the two major ways for astrophysicists to understand the nature of the objects they study. Since there is no easy way to present visually stunning spectra, it is less popular among the general public. But without spectroscopy, astronomers would be almost blind, and a vast part of their job could simply not been done. Éric will present a brief history of spectroscopy, and then detail what astronomers are really doing when they do spectroscopy.

Talk on 28 May: Peter Cramb will talk about binoculars and telescopes.

Formal meeting 18 June: Roger Deane, SKA postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town, will present a talk on supermassive black hole systems.   He says about this talk that ‘Multiple supermassive black hole (SMBH) systems have long been predicted to play an important role in galaxy evolution and be strong emitters of gravitational waves. I will provide an overview of these exotic systems, highlighting our recent discovery of second closest binary SMBH system known. In addition, there is a third black hole making this the ‘tightest’ triple SMBH system yet. I’ll discuss how this exciting science will be driven forward by the future African VLBI Network, MeerKAT and the SKA, and how it will contribute to the direct detection of gravitational waves.’

Annual General Meeting 

AGM on 9 July:  This year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Cape Centre of ASSA will take place on 9 July. The formal minutes and agenda will be sent to our members soon.  In the meanwhile, please start nominating members for the 2014/15 committee4 of Cape Centre by using the attached nomination form. Please send your nominations to our club e-mail address, or you could also direct it to our secretary, Christian (

SAAO Open Nights in May (20:00 in the SAAO Auditorium)

24 May Dr Depagne, our speaker on 14 May, will again present his talk on spectoscopy entitled How to know almost everything about just anything, without ever getting close.

Other meetings of interest

RSAAf/ASSAf public lecture on 21 May

The Royal Society of South Africa and the Academy of Science of South Africa are inviting to a public lecture entitled Is There Science in Decision Making? by Professor Theo Steward (UCT). The lecture will take place in the SAAO Auditorium on 21 May at 17:00. Tea will be served from 16:30. You can find the abstract in the attached invitation.

Please let us know if you have ideas for a talk (we are always glad to give our members an opportunity to talk about the topics that interest them) or practical demonstration.  We will always find ways to schedule suitable talks and demonstrations into our programme, and we try not to repeat talks on the same topics too closely after one another.

 Also let us know if you find our information via e-mail and/or our Facebook page useful. Your feedback is useful to us.

Meanwhile, we are looking forward to seeing many of you this Wednesday.

Kind regards,
Lia (Chair) and Christian (Secretary)