Monday, 17 April 2017

Iridium 58 - 17 April 2017 - 19:19:43

Click to enlarge

Iridium 58 satellite (Flare: Mag -8) moving through the constellation Musca with Crux to the left.
Photo: Hannes Pieterse, ASSA Bloemfontein

Date: 17 April 2017
Time: 19:19:43
Brightness: -8
Altitude: 41°
Satellite: Iridium 58
Distance to satellite: 1122 km
Angle off flare centre-line: 0.1°
Distance to flare centre: 2 km
Flare producing antenna: right
Sun altitude: -19.3°
Angular separation from Sun: 120.7°

Iridium 58

Date (UTC) 30 March 1998 06:02
Launch siteVandenberg AFB, United States
Launch vehicle Delta 7920-10C

Photo information
Canon 30D
50mm lens
 ISO 400
89 exposures
30 second
Tripod and Canon TC-80N3 Remote Timer
Stacked in Starstax
Final Editing in Photoshop

Sunday, 26 February 2017

26 February 2017 — Annular Solar Eclipse — Bloemfontein, South Africa

First Contact 17:10; Maximum 18:08, Last Contact - Not visible

Photos: Hannes Pieterse, ASSA Bloemfontein

Animation of the Eclipse (Click on Image)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Telkom 3 - A failed satellite launch in 2012

Several Amateur Astronomers observed the sporadic flashes in the night sky the last couple of days. (January 2017).  Greg Roberts (Cape Town, South Africa), international acclaimed satellite hunter identified the mysterious flashes as a failed communication satellite, Telkom 3.

Telkom 3  (Wiki information)
Telkom-3 is an Indonesian communications satellite which was lost due to a launch failure on 6 August 2012. It was built by ISS Reshetnev for Indonesian telecommunications provider PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia. It was based on the Ekspress-1000 bus and had 32 C band transponders and 16 Ku band transponders. It was due to be located in geosynchronous orbit at 118° east above the equator,

Some images by Hannes Pieterse, Bloemfontein, South Africa. 26th January 2017.
Time: 21:27:46 - 21:31:56

 Click on the images to enlarge!
 The final image. The eight stable dots are Telkom 3 moving slowly below Sirius in then constellation Canis Major. 26th January 2017. Time: 21:27:46 - 21:31:56.  Seven (7) Images were stacked in Startrails; No dark frame subtraction; Tweaked in Photoshop. Canon 40D with a Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3, 17-55mm f2.8. 800 ISO; 30 sec exposures. Camera mounted on tripod; City light pollution, clouds and trees hampering the imaging process. 

 The red dots point to the primary flashes and the yellow arrows to the secondary flashes. Greg Roberts  our satellite guru in South Africa reckons Telkom 3 is rotating, from there the secondary flashes. 
 Do some homework before you set up to take the photographs. Heavensat software.

Upload an image to and identify the sky, stars, constellations etc. to confirm the satellite's position in the sky.

Telkom-3S later replaced the failed Telkom 3.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

10 New Iridium NEXT Satellites in orbit

The satellites still very close to each other on this chart (marked in red). They will eventually spread out like the other Iridium satellites.

 Chart for Bloemfontein tonight 20:30 (25 January 2017)

  The latest Iridium satellites should be visible tonight. Use binoculars.  About Magnitude 5 - 7.

Iridium Announces Successful First Launch of Iridium NEXT Satellites

 MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today the successful launch of its first ten Iridium NEXT satellites. The satellites were delivered into low-Earth orbit approximately one hour after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54:39 a.m. PST. Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe – the largest commercial satellite constellation in space.

Read more 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Open Evening at the Boyden Observatory - 10 December 2016

The Friends of Boyden Observatory and ASSA Bloemfontein had a succesfull Open Evening at Boyden Observatory.


18:00 – 19:00:  Family Math and Science (Gr. 1 – Gr 7) (family fun with math and science)

19:00 – 19:30: Visit to Boyden 1.5-m telescope and Boyden museum

19:30 – 19:45: Presentation on “Summer Constellations” on top of the Boyden Auditorium

19:45 – 21:00:  Observing through the telescopes

Iridium 61 visible in Bloemfontein

Iridium 61, 11 December 2016, 19:45 (Click to enlarge image)

 Iridium 61 brightened to a spectacular 8th magnitude in the constellation of Columba over Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Photo information: 49 images stacked in Startrail software. 
Canon 30D and 50mm standard lens mounted on tripod and Canon timer remote Controler.
ISO: 100
Exposure: 30 Seconds
f-stop:  f4.5

Clouds moved in and help to give the image some punch.

Heavens  Above information

Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

2017 Sky Guide - Africa South

The Sky Guide is the astronomical handbook for southern Africa, and is an invaluable practical resource for anyone who has even a passing interest in the night skies of southern Africa.

Read more...  (Exclusive 2017 Sky Guide competition!)

The Sky Guide is also available from bookshops or on-line bookshops such as, or Takealot.

2017 Astronomy Wall Calendar

Click to enlarge image

 Order now!

A 12-page wall calendar with a mix of astrophotos and rarely-seen South African historical images, for 2017. In support of the Centre for Astronomical Heritage NPC. Just in time for the holidays!

The 2017 wall calendar is in support of a newly-formed non-profit organization, the Centre for Astronomical Heritage. The Centre's mission is to protect South Africa's astronomical heritage, something which most of us are interested in and concerned about.

The calendars are A3 sized, glossy, full-colour and gorgeous, and showcase a mix of the latest South African astrophotos and rarely seen historical images. 

The friendly Johan Brink (Director: Finances) of the Centre has kindly offered to manage the orders, packaging, and shipment of the 2017 astro-calendars.

A calendar costs only R 120, to which you add whatever postage method you'd prefer (e.g. Poskantoor, PostNet, courier...). Like in previous years, bulk orders are possible (to reduce postage). Please discuss the options with Johan.

Only 150 have been produced, so please place your order soonest.

Send e-mail to for more information

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

World Light pollution Map

Click on image  to enlarge - Bloemfontein area

November Supermoon 2016: Best Photos From Across the Globe

Marseille, France- Last night's supermoon was the biggest we'll see until 2034. Appearing 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual, the stunning spectacle was a sight to behold in many countries across the globe. According to NASA, the full moon of November 14 was not only the closest of 2016, but the closest moon to date in the 21st century. The New York Times reports that on an average day, the moon is about 238,900 miles away from Earth, and on Sunday and Monday, it was about 221,524 miles away. Read more...
 Source : Heavy

 21 of the best photos of the supermoon from around the world

'Supermoon' Photos: The Closest Full Moon Until 2034 in Pictures

28 Incredible Views Of The Supermoon From Around The World