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Six-Planet Extravaganza
Published 2016 Jan 25

To assist in viewing this rare and spectacular opportunity to witness the moon in the neighbourhood of all the naked-eye planets during the upcoming week, the esteemed Auke Slotegraaf has compiled a series of images of what to look for.

His guide can be found at his website, here.

What’s up in January
Published 2016 Jan 20

Jan18-30

(left) The Moon passes through the Hyades star cluster on the 19th. Delta Tauri is occulted on the morning of the 20th. (centre) Early in the morning near month-end Mercury becomes visible, completing the complement of all the naked-eye planets. (right) The waning Moon passes by Regulus and Jupiter in the early-morning sky.

What’s up in February
Published 2016 Jan 20

Feb skies

Before sunrise at the start of the month the waning Moon passes by a succession of bright planets. Elusive Mercury can be seen quite readily, low in the east. The rapid daily movement of the inner planets is highlighted in the rightmost panel.

Feb skies

(left) The waxing Moon lies near two beautiful star clusters on the 15th and 16th: the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) and the Hyades. The bright star Aldebaran (alpha Tauri) is not a member of the Hyades despite appearing near the cluster in the sky. (right) The Moon, Full on the 22nd, lies near brilliant Jupiter on the evening of the 23rd.

Indonesia eclipse tour
Published 2016 Jan 08

Amar Sharma has been in contact with some ASSA members and invited any interested parties are invited. Itinerary, application information and cost are detailed on his website.

2016 Astronomy Undergraduate Scholarships
Published 2016 Jan 5

ASSA administers four scholarships on behalf of the Society and the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory. Applications for 2016 funding should reach the Society by 1 February 2016. Details are available on the scholarships page.

Proxima Project
Published 2015 Dec 18

Case Rijsdijk has put together some informational resources on a commemoration of the centenary of the discovery of Proxima Centauri, which can be seen here.

Gaia-GOSA
Published 2015 Oct 10

An opportunity for enthusiastic amateurs to make contributions to the scientific community! The Gaia Ground-based Observational Service for Asteroids (Gaia-GOSA) is a free interactive tool available at www.gaiagosa.eu which supports observers in planning photometric observations of asteroids. Based on the observing sites and the equipment characteristics defined by users, the GOSA service prepares a personalised observing plan. The asteroid prediction tool is based on the Gaia orbit and scanning law provided by the European Space Agency and the ephemerides of Solar System bodies provided by the Minor Planet Center. These inputs have been coupled by a software tool developed and run by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). The data collected by the GOSA communit y will be used to enhance the Gaia Solar system science.

 

Sky Guide 2016
Published 2015 Oct 04

Sky Guide 2016 competition

The 2016 edition of the Sky Guide is rolling of the presses as of this writing! ASSA members should receive their membership copies during November, after which the Guide will be available in the best book shops and online retailers. In addition to being chock full of astronomical goodness (you can glean more with one quick glance through its pages than from browsing the Internet) there is an exclusive competition not to miss. Buy your copy, turn to page 128, answer the question and submit the original competition coupon (via snail mail!) to us. The competition closing date is 2016 March 20 and you stand a chance of winning a splendid pair of Celestron SkyMaster binoculars. Good luck!

Darragh O’Donoghue
Published 2015 Jun 27
Darragh O’Donoghue (ASSA Gill Medalist) passed away on Thursday evening, June 26. Prof Ted Williams, SAAO Director, wrote: “Darragh was a giant in South African astronomy, but was also a kind and gentle friend to all of us. We shall miss him greatly.” Darragh did his PhD at UCT and worked there before joining SAAO. His 2011 Gill Medal was awarded in part for his central role in the rescue of SALT from being a disaster by designing a much improved Spherical Aberration Corrector for the giant telescope. Lately he was working on a complete revamp of the spectrograph of the 1.9-m telescope, to make it more efficient.

Nightfall #1 available
Published 2015 Mar 25
The newsletter of the Deep-Sky Section — Nightfall — is now available as a free download. The curious E3, an exploration of the Unicorn, the birth of a deep-sky marathon, and an inside look at a veteran observer’s process, are some of the highlights in this edition. (find out more)

How to see Lacaille’s deep-sky objects
Published 2015 Mar 12
In the early 1750s Abbe Nicholas Louis de la Caille visited Cape Town and compiled the first list of southern deep-sky objects. Since his telescope had a lens only 12mm in diameter, modern-day binoculars will show much more than he saw. Visit the Lacaille Catalogue page and re-trace the Abbe’s steps. (find out more)

Astrophotography Challenge: Two planets and a crescent Moon
Published 2015 Feb 10
This month’s challenge: there will be a nice tight grouping of the Moon, Venus and Mars on 20 February shortly after sunset. The three objects will just about fit within a six degree field of view, and are all quite bright, so this challenge is suitable for just about any level of equipment and skill. (find out more)

Double Star news for February
Published 2015 Feb 02
The February 2015 double star of the month is HJ 3683 in Dorado, described by Sir John Herschel as a “very fine” object. (find out more)

What's up this December

What's up

Find out more about this month’s highlights.

2015 astronomical highlights not to miss