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.

Programme: 

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 Loot.co.za, Exclus1ves.co.za 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 johan@cfah.org.za 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
(www.sciencealert.com)

'Supermoon' Photos: The Closest Full Moon Until 2034 in Pictures
(Space.com)


28 Incredible Views Of The Supermoon From Around The World
(BuzzFeedNews)

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

On our doorstep! Nova confirmed! TCP J18102829-2729590

 Image created with Skytools 3 Click on image to enlarge
Source: Jazzistentialism 

Nova confirmed ! TCP J18102829-2729590

 Visit page
 A confirmation spectrum of TCP J18102829-2729590, a galactic nova in Sagittarius. The target, setting rapidly in the west, was imaged using the Alpy 600 under challenging conditions, providing confirmation as a classical nova in the optically thick stage. The resulting ATel (kindly prepared by Steve Shore, University of Pisa) can be found here. Additional spectra at both high and low resolution have been acquired and made available via the ARAS spectral database.
 ____________________________

In Bloemfontein South Africa it was clearly visible with a 20 X 80 Celestron Skymaster binocular in the Western sky. Guesstimate magnitude when compared to stars close by, about magnitude 8.   
 Sky Quality meter reading:  18.94 (26°C)  (Brightness of the night sky in magnitudes per square arcsecond)
 (Hannes Pieterse - ASSA Bloemfontein)


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Naval Hill Planetarium 22 & 29 October





Tickets for the weekend of 22 and 29 October 2016 shows are available at Computicket.

22 October, 17:30
City of Stars (English)
We see the Milky Way as a faint glowing band arching across the sky. Though beautiful, our view with the naked eye is very limited. Come and discover more about our “city of stars”, its spectacular spiral structure, and its immense size. Explore the role of dark matter and explore the colourful star clusters and nebulae in the disc of the Milky Way. Fly into the centre, to our own supermassive black hole, then fly out far beyond the Milky Way to behold the recently discovered Laniakea Supercluster. Travel far into the future to see the inevitable collision of our Milky Way with our nearest spiral neighbour, Andromeda.

22 Oktober, 17:30
City of Stars (English

Die Melkweg kan snags gesien word as ‘n dowwe gloeiende band wat ‘n boog oor die hemelruim span. Hoewel dit pragtig is, is ons uitsig daarvan met die blote oog baie beperk. Kom ontdek meer van ons “stad van sterre”, die skouspelagtige spiraalstruktuur en die enorme grootte daarvan. Ontdek die rol van donker materie en verken die kleurvolle stertrosse en gasnewels in die skyf van die Melkweg. Vlieg tot in die kern, waar ons eie super-massiewe gravitasiekolk is, en tot ver buite die Melkweg om die onlangs ontdekte Laniakea supertros rondom die Melkweg te aanskou. Reis tot in die verre toekoms om die onvermydelike botsing van ons Melkweg met ons naaste spiraal-buurman, Andromeda, te aanskou.

Die Kaartjies vir die naweek van 22 en 29 Oktober vertonings is beskikbaar by Computicket.

29 October, 17:30
Stad van Sterre (Afrikaans)
We see the Milky Way as a faint glowing band arching across the sky. Though beautiful, our view with the naked eye is very limited. Come and discover more about our “city of stars”, its spectacular spiral structure, and its immense size. Explore the role of dark matter and explore the colourful star clusters and nebulae in the disc of the Milky Way. Fly into the centre, to our own supermassive black hole, then fly out far beyond the Milky Way to behold the recently discovered Laniakea Supercluster. Travel far into the future to see the inevitable collision of our Milky Way with our nearest spiral neighbour, Andromeda.

29 Oktober, 17:30
Stad van Sterre (Afrikaans)
Die Melkweg kan snags gesien word as ‘n dowwe gloeiende band wat ‘n boog oor die hemelruim span. Hoewel dit pragtig is, is ons uitsig daarvan met die blote oog baie beperk. Kom ontdek meer van ons “stad van sterre”, die skouspelagtige spiraalstruktuur en die enorme grootte daarvan. Ontdek die rol van donker materie en verken die kleurvolle stertrosse en gasnewels in die skyf van die Melkweg. Vlieg tot in die kern, waar ons eie super-massiewe gravitasiekolk is, en tot ver buite die Melkweg om die onlangs ontdekte Laniakea supertros rondom die Melkweg te aanskou. Reis tot in die verre toekoms om die onvermydelike botsing van ons Melkweg met ons naaste spiraal-buurman, Andromeda, te aanskou.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

ScopeX 2016 - Photo Gallery


 Photos: Hannes Pieterse, ASSA Bloemfontein
ScopeX 2016
Annual Telescope and Astronomy Expo
Johannesburg
15 October 2016

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Open Evening at the Naval Hill Planetarium - Saturday 15 October 2016


Ope-Aand by die Naval Hill Planetarium
 
18:30, Saterdag 15 Oktober 2016  

Die Vriende van Boyden Sterrewag in samewerking met die Sterrekundevereniging nooi die publiek vriendelik uit na hul OPE-AAND op Saterdag 15 Oktober 2016 by die Planetarium op Naval Hill. Toegang is gratis (donasies welkom). Vooraf bespreking is nodig omdat die Planetarium slegs ‘n beperkte aantal mense kan akkommodeer. Mense sal van 18:30 tot 19:00 deur ‘n teleskoop na Saturnus kan kyk en daar sal ook verversings te koop wees, gevolg deur ‘n aanbieding om 19:00:

Navigeer met Sterre
- Braam van Zyl

Open Evening at the Naval Hill Planetarium

18:30, Saturday 15 October 2016

The Friends of Boyden in collaboration with the Astronomical Society cordially invite the public to their Open Evening on Saturday 15 October 2016 at the Planetarium on Naval Hill. Entrance is free (donations welcome). Advance booking is essential since the Planetarium can only accommodate a limited number of people. From 18:30 to 19:00 people will have to opportunity to look at Saturn through a telescope and there will be refreshments for sale, followed by a presentation in Afrikaans at 19:00:


Toegang:  Gratis -  Bespreking nodig
Entrance:  Free - booking essential
Bespreking en navrae / Booking and queries:
Kantoor-ure/Office hours (weekdays):  Yolande Loots, tel. 051 401 9751 (of/or ficky@ufs.ac.za)
Na-ure/After hours:  Prof. Matie Hoffman, tel. 083 625 7154

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Naval Hill Planetarium: 7 and 8 October 2016 - International Observe the Moon Night


This is how we will observe the moon on the Android app on Saturday night
(8 October 2016) from the Southern Hemisphere.
Programme:
Naval Hill Planetarium, Bloemfontein
7 and 8 October 2016


Dear Planetarium supporter
Tickets for the weekend of 7 and 8 October 2016 shows are available at Computicket.

7 October 2016, 18:30
Vanaf die aarde na die heelal (Afr)
This voyage through space and time conveys the Universe as revealed to us by science through the ages. Revel in the splendour of the worlds in the Solar System. Travel to the colourful birthplaces and burial grounds of stars. Fly beyond the Milky Way to the unimaginable immensity of myriads of galaxies.
  • Weather permitting - ASSA Bloemfontein will have a telescope at the planetarium to observe  the moon. 

8 October 2016, 17:30
Fly me to the moon (Eng)
The moon is our nearest neighbour and the only other celestial body we've set foot on.​ Its orbit around the Earth has a big influence on the planet and it dominates our night sky. The six manned missions to the moon have left more than just footprints, and are still contributing to science today.
  • Weather permitting - ASSA Bloemfontein will have a telescope at the planetarium to observe  the moon.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Naval Hill Planetarium - New Horizons: Painting a portrait of Pluto



New Horizons: Painting a portrait of Pluto
Public talk by leading NASA engineer

Place / Plek: Naval Hill Planetarium
Date / Datum: Monday / Maandag 3/10/2016
Time / Tyd: 18:15 for 18:30

Free - No booking required / Gratis - Geen bespreking is nodig nie

Launched in 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft was sent on a decade-long trek to gather data from Pluto, one of the most endeared and debated bodies in our Solar System. After swinging past Jupiter for a gravity boost, the tiny spacecraft gained enough speed to make its closest approach of Pluto on 14 July 2015, and conducted a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of the (now) exoplanet and its moons. Because of the distance from Pluto to Earth (five billion kilometres), the massive amount of data collected from the fly-by continues to stream back, offering new insights into Pluto and the space environment at the Solar System’s outermost regions. So what have scientists learned about the enigmatic Pluto? And what does the future hold for the tiny spacecraft? Join NASA Deputy Chief Technologist (Retired), Jim Adams, to find out.

Jim Adams
NASA Deputy Chief Technologist, Retired
  
Jim Adams retired as NASA’s Deputy Chief Technologist in September 2016 to focus on the development of young and emerging innovators and entrepreneurs by encouraging creative processes and innovative thinking. He served in NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC from 2012, where he was responsible for the management of the technology strategy and innovation initiative across the entire agency.

Jim’s more than 25-year career at NASA saw him work on over 30 successful space missions. He was also the recipient of three NASA medals recognising exceptional service, including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal.
 
Mr Adams’ travel is provided by SKA Africa in support of 2016 World Space Week, 4-10 October 2016.

Jim holds a BSc in Physics from Westminster College and a MSc in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University.

Apparently, he bakes a mean apple pie, but this is yet to be confirmed by a reputable judge in South Africa. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Partial eclipse of the Sun in South Africa - Thursday, 1 September 2016



Today, sky watchers in more than 50 African countries witnessed a solar eclipse. On Thursday, 1 |September 2016, the new Moon passed in front of the sun, covering as much as 97% of the solar disk. This is how the sun looked from Bloemfontein, Free state, South Africa at almost maximum partial eclipse.

Visible sunspots are 2581 (left) 2585 (right).

Photographer: Hannes Pieterse
A single image trough an Celestron 11GPS telescope and F/6.3 reducer with Astro solar filter (ND 3.8)
Camera: Canon 40D
Exposure Time: 1/2000
ISO: 400
Date Taken: 2016:09:01 10:55:34
Conditions: Mild Cloud cover.

 Links to the Solar Eclipse (1 September 2016)

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Eclipse of the Sun visible in South Africa



What will I see?


A solar eclipse is a rare opportunity to see the solar system in action.

For a short time, the Moon will pass between us and the Sun, and instead of seeing the Sun as a round disc, it will have a “bite” out of it. This “bite” is the Moon, and the size of the “bite” changes as the Moon slowly moves along. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

1.5.3 Measuring the field of view (Plan your Observing)

Click on image  to Enlarge (Source: NASA - Chandra X-Ray Observatory )


The simplest method of measuring the field of view relies on the use of a star chart.

Knowing north and east in the sky, you can easily turn your star chart so that the image in the eyepiece corresponds to the chart. Look for two stars that just fit in your field of view, and locate these stars on the star chart. You can now measure this distance on the map and compare it with the scale on the margin of the map to convert your linear measurement to degrees or arc minutes.

Remember that 1 degree (°) = 60 arc minutes (60′) = 3600 arc seconds (3600″). Binoculars typically have fields larger than 4degrees , and telescopes normally give a view smaller than 2degrees.

It is essential to be able to judge angular distances in the sky. The following table lists some angular estimates:

Solar / lunar diameter: ½°
Width of index nail at arms length: 1°
Orion’s Belt: 3°
Short arm of Crux: 4½°
Long arm of Crux: 6°
Width of clenched fist at arm’s length: 10°
Long arm of Diamond Cross: 10°

   Everyday objects can also serve as angular gauges. To determine the apparent angular size of anything in degrees, divide its linear width by its distance from your eye, then multiply by 57. For example, a 30cm ruler held one metre from your eye measures 30 ÷ 100 x 57 = 17°.
  
   A more accurate method to determine the diameter of your field of view involves measuring the time it takes for a star to drift across your field along the east-west line.
  
   This method is only useful for telescopes, since a star will take ages to cross the large field offered by binoculars. Choose any bright star, preferably far from the south pole – a star in Orion’s belt would be a good choice.
  
   Centre the star in your field of view, turn off the drive, and place the star just outside the eastern edge of the field. As the star drifts into view, start your stop-watch. When the star dis appears at the western edge, stop the watch and note down the elapsed time. Repeat this measurement several times and take the average.
  
   If this average time, T, is measured in minutes, then: field of view in arc minutes = 15 x T x cosine( D ), where D is the declination of the star (taken from a star catalogue, or estimated from a starmap).
  
   For example, suppose you measure several transits of Canopus and calculate the average time to be 3.5 minutes. Canopus’ declination is roughly –52.7°. The field of view is then 15 x 3.5 x cos(–52.7) = 15 x 3.5 x 0.6 = 31.5 arc minutes. Thus the field of view is roughly half a degree across.
  
   Make a note of the size of each eyepiece in your logbook, since a given eyepiece used on a specific telescope has a fixed field of view.

Source
- Download - Deepsky Observer's Companion (Pdf)
Deepsky Observer’s Companion (P 13)
Auke Slotegraaf
Director: Deepsky Observing Section,
Astronomical Society of Southern Africa

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A little red dot....

Skytools 3 view of the carbon star, DY Cru (feint red dot) with 10" Dobsonian and 10mm eyepiece.
DY Cru. The little red dot that could!

At the 2016 Free State Star Party  Johan Smit  (ASSA Pretoria)  "exposed" us to a feint red dot in the constellation of Crux.


 Most observers use beta Crucis as a beacon  to find nearby NGC 4755, the ‘Jewel Box’ (Kappa Crucis Cluster, NGC 4755, Caldwell 94).

Therefore we miss out on this ruby of the 9th magnitude carbon star within its glow. Nicknamed 'Ruby Crucis. (aka DY Cru, NSV 19481, CCCS 2031, EsB 365)

 From ICEINSPACE
little red star near beta crux
"Ok, given up trying to find the name of the star. It is a little red star near beta crux. You can;t see it with the nude eye but through my 8" Dob it is there. You don;t really notice it unless you are looking for it but in a 12.5mm EP it should be in the same FOV as beta crux. I hope one of you knows which this is."

Go and find it...

Links to explore this little red gem and other carbon stars

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Part 2 of my "How dew you dew" action for the Free State Star Party 3 - 5 June 2016

#FSstarparty

How to fight the dew from the top?  Start a fan club.

Will it work? Maybe to much vibration?  Will find out soon.

Heatwaves in the tube? Is "bad seeing" not better than "no seeing" at all? 

 It is a small 60mm fan right behind the secondary mirror. I plan to add an on/off switch and a variable resistor to bring down the speed or turn it off if there is to much vibration.

Dew on the secondary mirror was a bigger problem then dew on the primary mirror,  during the previous star party (2015).

And the white wiring?  That is a nichrome heater (harvested from an old electric blanket)  to heat up the air a wee bit. Maybe some airflow (fan) will do the trick.

* Plan B is to  mount the fan on the edge of the scope tube and point it in the direction of the secondary mirror. What next?

Some links with more ideas






Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Part 1 of my "How dew you dew" action for the Free State Star Party 3 - 5 June 2016


#FSstarparty
Dealing with dew at the Free State Star Party.
Maybe it will help. Some amateur astronomers are skeptical (3rd link). Maybe  a disk at the back to force more air onto the mirror as suggested by the author..

 Will use the fan  in combination  with heater made from nichrome wire (old electric blanket).
- Eyepiece area
- Secondary mirror

I will give feedback after the weekend.

Hannes Pieterse

Some links to helpfull web sites:
Using fans with Newtonian telescopes

Attaching a Cooling Fan to Newtonian Telescope

A simple telescope fan installation

Monday, 9 May 2016

Transit of Mercury - Boyden Observatory - Bloemfontein, 9 May 2016

Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Students  from the Department of
Physics from the University of the Free State watch the Mercury transit projected by the 20 cm Coelostat (Solar Telescope)  at Boyden Observatory, Bloemfontein, South Africa.



Sunspots AR 2542 and 2543 are clearly visible on the gallery images without cloud interference.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

3rd Free State Star Party



Photo: Frans Human (ASSA Bloemfontein)
A Stary Party in the warm heart of Central South Africa
3 - 5  June 2016 (Friday - Sunday)
Where
On the farm Gansvlei close to Brandfort (13km)
GPS Coordinates:  28°47'48.63"S   26°28'25.66"E
Gansvlei Information (Pdf) Booking via Shaun Staats  -   assabfn@gmail.com

GPS Coordinates  28°47'48.63"S   26°28'25.66"E
 Google Earth - Gansvlei - FS Star Party

Observation site
Storage room close to observing site during night/day.
Separate astro photography site available not to disturb serious observers.
Electricity available for telescope and electronic equipment (No kettles or heaters).
Observers must bring their own leads to get power from a central point in the veld.
Bring covers if you want to leave your equipment in the veld during the day.
 

- Have respect for your fellow observers. Use your headlight sparingly. You are blinding someone next to you. No bright white/red lights when observing starts. 

Deep-sky Marathon
ASSA Bloemfontein did the  first Deep-sky Marathon on Gansvlei in 2014 . (ASSA Top-100 Observing List). It is based on the very popular Messier Marathon. It was customized for deep sky objects visible in Southern-Africa.


 Visit the ASSA Marathon web page Sections – Deep-sky Section > Nebulae >  Clusters >
- Deep-Sky Marathons

The FS Star Party is not about marathons alone. It is also an event where astro friends will do some serious observing, astro photography and relax with hot coffee and serious braaiing. 


Weather
Extreme – In 2014 we measured - 7°C during the first night. Prepare with warm clothing and bedding. In 201 5 dew caused havoc. Bring your dew heaters. Come prepared!

Meals
Bring your own food according to your dietary preferences.
Hot beverages will be available during the night at a Coffee point
Central braai area available. We braai early to be ready for the nights observing.
Brandfort - 13 km
- Branfort Slaghuis/Butchery is the place to buy your meat   (
14 Voortrekker St, Brandfort)

Bloemfontein 52 km

Provisional Programme

Friday  –  3 June 2016
Morning/Afternoon: Arriving and setting up at observing point
Evening - Early Morning:  Observing

Saturday
–  4 June 2016
Morning: Visit Brandfort or sleep late; (No official programme)

Evening - Early Morning:  Observing

Sunday –  5 June 2016
Breakfast and we all leave! 

General
 

Cost (2016)
1. Registration fee – R100 p/p
 

2. Accommodation costs

Per night Tariff:
R100 per person per night. Include bed, hot shower, kitchen

Camp in own tent:
R80 per person per night.  Include bed, hot shower, kitchen (Bring your own bedding. It is deep winter – be prepared.

- Wood for barbeque (Saturday afternoon) available.

- Venue avaiulable for Friday and Saturday night (3/4 June)

 

Cash payment on arrival.
Contact Shaun Staats – via assabfn@gmail.com   


To book
Cut and paste the info below and email your information to assabfn@gmail.com  
 

Name / Surname:
ASSA Centre / Other:
Number of people:
Email:
Cell no:
Bed in Room  (Number):          (No single/double Rooms available)
Camp site:


Other accommodation
 Various  
  Ou Pastorie 
  Lekkeslaap – Near Brandfort

June is Deepsky Marathon Month at the Free State Star Party - Helpful links

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Six naked-eye planets



In the last week of January and into the first week of February, all six naked-eye planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth - will be visible at the same time.

In the last week of January and into the first week of February, all six naked-eye planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth - will be visible at the same time.
Starting late-January, in the morning sky shortly before sunrise, six planets will be visible at the same time. The trickiest planet to catch will be Mercury, which - as the planet nearest the Sun and thus never moving too far from our bright star - will be low in the east before sunrise.
Start looking on the morning of January 23, when super-low Mercury may be visible before sunrise. It gets easier each morning afterwards.
From January 26 to about February 07, the Moon joins the sextet, waning to a beautiful slender crescent on February 06, when it makes a spectacular grouping with Venus and Mercury - this is not to be missed!

A Southern hemisphere astronomy bucket list

Zodiacal Light in the Free State sky during the 2015 Free State Star Party (Photo: Hannes Pieterse)

A Bucket List to die for!  Auke Slotegraaf, Section Director, Deep-sky Section (Astronomical Society of Southern Africa) created the list.

A Southern hemisphere astronomy bucket list

Category A: Earth and the solar system

  • The Earth’s shadow
  • A geostationary satellite
  • A –8 mag. Iridium flare
  • Structure in the International Space Station
  • The zodiacal light & the gegenschein
  • The green flash
  • Complete list...
- Visit psychohistorian.org to see the rest and start observing to complete the list.
- Free State Star Party  3 - 5  June 2016

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Bloemfontein - Observation of the International Space Station


The International Space Station (ISS) can easily be spotted with the naked eye. Because of its size (110m x 100m x 30m), it reflects a large amount of sunlight.
The best time to observe the ISS is when it is nighttime at your location, and the Space Station is sunlit. Often, such a viewing situation occurs in the morning before sunrise, or in the evening after sunset.

- View over Bloemfontein