Shallow Sky Observing Section
By Dave Blane
The Shallow Sky Section was established as a result of the restructuring of the observing sections. This was done to give a new-look to the ASSA observing section that would, hopefully, encourage new and existing observers to get involved and record and submit their observations.
The Shallow Sky section includes the Sun, planets, Moon, comets, meteors, asteroids, occultations and satellite observing disciplines. Several people have queried how far the Shallow Sky area extends. I propose that the limit of SK responsibility be defined as the area of space extending to and including the Oort cloud!
With the solar maximum of Solar Cycle 24 occurring around the report period the Sun has extensively observed and imaged.
The spectacular sunspot group AR1967 was recorded to have returned for possibly a record third time from images submitted by Kos Coronaios, Paul Smit, Richard Ford and Oleg Toumilovitch.
Numerous images of this and other groups were submitted to the Astrophotography Section.
The partial (from SA) solar eclipse of 3rd November was captured in a series of images by Kos Coronaios.
The Moon was a favourite target for our observers with numerous images of the Moon at all phases as well as conjunctions with bright stars and planets. Richard Ford was particularly prolific with his excellent images.
After expectations had been raised to unrealistically high levels (again!) Comet Ison turned out to be a disappointment for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.
In spite of unfavourable conditions Jerome Jooste did manage to observe and image the comet on the 18th November 2013.
Images of Comet C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) were obtained almost daily and submitted by Kos Coronaios for the second half of June 2014 providing excellent coverage of this apparition.
Comet Lemmon was observed Magda Streicher, Richard Ford and Tim Cooper and an article by Tim was published in the December issue MNASSA.
Comet Lemmon was imaged by Steve Barrow and Johan Retief in response to a competition.
A number of fireball reports have been received with perhaps the most spectacular reports coming from the Western Cape on 27th January 2014. Observations are being collated by Tim Cooper who will include these in his regular report.
The occultations of Saturn by the moon on March 21 and June 10 were well covered and images of the occultation of Saturn were archived in the Astrophotography section.
A vivid description of the near miss from Durban by Bruce Tomalin made you feel like you were there witnessing the event with him!
Cliff Turk reported 16 lunar occultations, 13 disappearances and 3 reappearances.
The occultation of Spica by the Moon on June 13 2013 was imaged by Kos Coronaios and the images are archived in the ASSA photo gallery.
Thanks to Brian Fraser for providing alerts for minor planet occultations and for providing advice on observing these as well as Lunar occultations. One successful planetary occultation timing was obtained by the writer.
Thanks to Greg for his input in handling queries on sitings of satellites and “UFO’s” as well as the interesting articles he posted.
With the availability of inexpensive digital cameras and image processing software there has been a revival of the observation of solar system objects and the quality of images being submitted rivals those obtained with observatory equipment not that many years ago.