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)

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


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

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)
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  -

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. 

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!

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

–  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! 


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   

To book
Cut and paste the info below and email your information to  

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

Other accommodation
  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 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