Sunday, 8 December 2013

Naked Eye Nova Centauri 2013 - Astronomy Picture of the Day

Source: Astronomy Picture of the Day 

 Naked Eye Nova Centauri 2013
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution)

Explanation: Brightest stellar beacons of the constellation Centaurus, Alpha and Beta Centauri are easy to spot from the southern hemisphere. For now, so is new naked eye Nova Centauri 2013. In this night skyscape recorded near Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean southern Atacama desert on December 5, the new star joins the old in the expansive constellation, seen at early morning hours through a greenish airglow. Caught by nova hunter John Seach from Australia on December 2 as it approached near naked eye brightness, Nova Cen 2013 has been spectroscopically identified as a classical nova, an interacting binary star system composed of a dense, hot white dwarf and cool, giant companion. Material from the companion star builds up as it falls onto the white dwarf's surface triggering a thermonuclear event. The cataclysmic blast results in a drastic increase in brightness and an expanding shell of debris. The stars are not destroyed, though. Classical novae are thought to recur when the flow of material onto the white dwarf eventually resumes and produces another outburst.

Monday, 4 November 2013

1% Solar Eclipse in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Hybrid Solar Eclipse of 2013 Nov 03 - 1% visible in Bloemfontein - 3:51 - 4:35pm (Sunday - 3 November 2013)

Frans Human, member of the Bloemfontein Center of The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa took this image of the hybrid eclipse on Sunday, 3 November 2013. Some sunspots are also visible.

1% visible in Bloemfontein  3:51 - 4:35pm (Sunday - 3 November 2013)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Official Opening of the Naval Hill Digital Planetarium

Official Opening of the Naval Hill Digital Planetarium in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Live Streaming

Friday 1 November 2013 

10:45 - 13:00

The University of the Free State (UFS) is implementing an innovative and exciting project, namely the establishment of a ‘Centre for Earth and Space’ on Naval Hill in the centre of Bloemfontein. 
The 86-year old Lamont-Hussey Observatory on Naval Hill, also known as the Sterrewag Theatre, is home to the planetarium. The planetarium is the first component of a proposed Centre for Earth and Space.

Earth-sized 'lava world' discovered

Source: BBC Science and Environment

A doomed "lava world" with a similar mass and density to that of Earth has been discovered orbiting a star 400 light-years away.

Observations suggest the planet, named Kepler 78b, is composed mostly of rock and iron, much like our own planet.
But its extremely close proximity to its host star - a hundredth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun - remains something of a puzzle.
Details of the work by two teams of researchers appear in Nature journal.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Priceless to me - Letter from Sir Patrick Moore

Click to enlarge!

Ok, Sir Patrick Moore did not write directly to me! I was dwelling in the Bibliophile in Clarens looking for the big catch. After all Clarens is a quiet little drinking  town with a fishing problem! And if you're not the fishing kind of man, then the place to hang out is the Bibliophile.

That was where I found the second hand book - Brilliant Stars written  by Patrick Moore. And inside, with some newspaper clippings, was this letter, typed on that famous typewriter and signed by that legendary astronomer - Sir Patrick Moore.

A Mister DW Suchterlonie from Clarens wrote to Moore asking about the absolute and apparent  magnitude of Sirius  on page 13. He received the above letter from Moore.

In another book - Stars and Planets of the Southern Hemisphere (Lionel Warner) DW Suchterlonie wrote his name and also Planetarium, 3rd April 1982 in the front cover. Anyone from ASSA Johannesburg recognizing the name?

- Hannes Pieterse

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sunday, 13 October 2013

International Observe the Moon Night - 12 October 2013

 Photo: Pieter Pieterse
(Samsung S3 cellphone through eyepiece + Tiny Touch of Photoshop)

Boyden Observatory  - Bloemfontein, South Africa

Our club evening was dedicated to old Mister Moon. Do the following names mean anything to you? Not a clue.  Then it is time to grab a moon map, your telescope and some time to observe this nuisance in the sky....

Aristoteles, Valis Alpes, Morites Alpes, Mont Blanc, Cassini, Aristillus, Archimedes, Spurr (not that one), Patricia, Mons Huygens, Pallas, Herschel, Ptolemaeus; Arzachel, Purbach, Stoller and Shomberger to mention a few.

We also watched a video - "Earth without the moon!" 

Thanks for everyone attending!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vinnige Verklaring Vir Vreemde Vlieënde Voorwerp (VVVVVV) oor Suid-Afrika)

Hier is 'n foto ongeveer 19h00 geneem van agter my huis in Bloemfontein - Herman Bonnett, ASSA Bloemfontein
Willie Koorts se boodskap op Facebook: 
Die vreemde verskynsel wat vanaand (29 Sep. 2013) net na 19:00 wyd waargeneem is oor Suid-Afrika - ook deur Matie Hoffman vanaf Bloemfontein - blyk, volgens baassatellietjagter, Greg Roberts, 'n "fuel dump" te gewees het van die Falcon 9 vuurpyl wat vanmiddag om 18:00 (SA tyd) vanaf Vandenberg in Amerika gelanseer is. 
Die loonvrag is om 18:52 in sy wentelbaan geplaas waarna dit om 19:03 oor Antarktika gevlieg het en 'n paar minute later oor Suid-Afrika. Dit is toe dat die oortollige brandstof uitgespuit is wat die skouspelagtige sirkelvormige wolk veroorsak het wat wyd waargeneem is. 
 Greg en ek het al tevore so iets gesien en ek moet saamstem dat dit nogal iets is om te sien. Dankie vir die foto's en stuur gerus nog!

M8 - Lagoon Nebula uit Bloemfontein

Foto: Herman Bonnet - ASSA Bloemfontein
Klik op foto om te vergroot

Foto van M8 geneem op 1 Sept 2013
50  "lightframes" van 150 sek elk
50 "dark frames"
50" bias frames"
50 "flat  frames"
"Stacking"-Deepsky stacker
Processing - PS
Teleskoop-120 mm Skywatcher Equinox
Mount- CGE PRO
Kamera- Canon 60 Da

Friday, 27 September 2013

Laser Strike

Published on Apr 4, 2013
Laser strike incidents against aircraft have increased dramatically since 2009 and pose a serious threat to aviation across the U.S. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in association with the LASD Aero Bureau, Homeland Security and the FBI has produced a video about the possible dangers of green laser pointers.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sutherland by Night - SPOD • 23 Jul 2013

In this beautiful image by SAAO Astronomer Stephen Potter we see the Milky Way setting behind the 20, 30, 40 inch, MONET and SALT telescopes. Jupiter is the bright star at the top and Venus is setting into the MONET dome. The bright glow on the horizon is from distant city lights.
An amazing fish-eye image of the milky way arcing over Sutherland.
Credits: Stephen Potter 

Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System, NASA Confirms

This artist's concept shows the general locations of NASA's two Voyager spacecraft.
Illustration courtesy Caltech/NASA.

Dan Vergano
Published September 12, 2013
It’s official: Voyager 1 has slipped from the solar system.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 traveled past Jupiter and Saturn and is now more than 11.66 billion miles (18.67 billion kilometers) from the sun, becoming the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space. Proof of this long-anticipated milestone for the storied spacecraft comes in a study released Thursday by the journal Science and announced at a celebratory NASA headquarters briefing.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Pale Blue Dot: Distant Spacecraft Photograph Earth (Cassini spacecraft)

 Click to Enlarge

July 23, 2013:  Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19 show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Keep out the light, the cold and mozzies!

Found this in the latest S&T.

It will keep out stray light, mozzies and other unwanted flying crawlies. (After the flying  part - they crawl).

 The Delux model is fitted with a stereo MP3 player. ;-)

This is DIY 101 for astro geeks.

Fracking Scary!

Source: Internet
`n Gedeelte van S&T se redakteursbrief in die jongste uitgawe. Gaan ons oor `n klompie jare dieselfde kommer iewers uitspreek? En Suid-Afrika (Karoo) is baie kleiner as die groot VSA. Alle aanduidings in ons media is dat skaliegasontginning om die draai is.

"ASH members are concerned that light pollution is starting to creep in at this site, which is also home to the Black Forest Star Party in September. The light pollution comes from nearby drilling rigs for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. Fortunately, the sky was very dark on Saturday night. Cherry Springs State Park operations manager Chip Harrison gave a talk about how the fracking companies frequently cut back on fl aring activity during star parties. He pointed out that these companies receive a lot of negative publicity, so they’re usually happy to generate goodwill by cooperating with star party organizers. The key is to understand their concerns, make reasonable requests, and communicate clearly the desired actions and the reasons for them."
Visit these sites:

Monday, 10 June 2013

NASA - Image of the Day Gallery

Targeting Earth Photographs From Orbit

Inside the Cupola, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, an Expedition 36 flight engineer, uses a 400mm lens on a digital still camera to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth some 250 miles below him and the International Space Station. Cassidy has been aboard the orbital outpost since late March and will continue his stay into September.

Image Credit: NASA

Sunday, 9 June 2013

SCOPEX 2013 - 20 July 2013 - 9 am to 9pm

Interested in Astronomy, stargazing, astrophotography, buying/building a telescope?

Come visit the astronomy event of the year …

What to expect on the dayCommercial Telescopes and accessories at special show prices
Activities: Telescope making demonstrations, Telescope Auction, Talks, Science Shows, ATM and Astrophotography Competitions

SCOPEX 2013 - 20 July 2013 - 9 am to 9pm
at the
Museum of Military History, Johannesburg

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The 10 weirdest physics facts, from relativity to quantum physics

All the matter that makes up the human race could fit in a sugar cube
Atoms are 99.9999999999999 per cent empty space. As Tom Stoppard put it: "Make a fist, and if your fist is as big as the nucleus of an atom, then the atom is as big as St Paul's, and if it happens to be a hydrogen atom, then it has a single electron flitting about like a moth in an empty cathedral, now by the dome, now by the altar."
If you forced all the atoms together, removing the space between them, crushing them down so the all those vast empty cathedrals were compressed into the first-sized nuclei, a single teaspoon or sugar cube of the resulting mass would weigh five billion tons; about ten times the weight of all the humans who are currently alive.
Incidentally, that is exactly what has happened in a neutron star, the super-dense mass left over after a certain kind of supernova.

How To Choose A Beginner Telescope

How To Choose A Beginner Telescope

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Welcome to the brand new SAAO Website

Welcome to the brand new South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Website

This site is the first phase of an exciting revitalisation of our web presence.

Future plans include multilingual content, real-time upload of event happenings, etc.

Please enjoy your visit.

KMTnet Site Live View - Sutherland, South Africa

KMTnet Site Live View - Sutherland, South Africa

"Journey into the Universe"

Source: CCTV
"Journey into the Universe" (working title 'Dark Matter') on CCTV
 This is a 30 minute doccie I made for Faces of Africa on Chinese TV earlier this year.

The film follows radio astronomer Nadeem Oozeer and cosmologist Bruce Bassett as they journey to the SKA site in Carnarvon, in order to understand how the Square Kilometre Array telescope will shed light on mysteries of the Universe such as its origins, Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Asteroid 1998QE2 Fly-by - SAA Observatory

On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 passed by Earth, at a distance no closer than about 5.8 million kilometers, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. The asteroid, which was discovered on the 19th August 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) programme in the US, is thought to be about 2.7 kilometers long. It is not a threat to Earth however, as astronomers are certain that the asteroid will pass by rather uneventfully. Although the asteroid will not be visible with the naked eye as it will be too faint, it will be visible using a small telecope.

For more information visit

Sunday, 2 June 2013

1998 QE2 Close aproach

And there she goes! Asteroid 1998 QE2 video captured by Jonathan Bradshaw (Astrojunk) complete with meteor and satellite zooming past! Nabbed 31st May during closest approach. -Suzy.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

SpaceObs on USTREAM: .

 Bron: Willie Koorts
Die beloofde skakels na dekking van vanaand se verbyvlug van Asteroïde 1998 QE2. Ons hoop die weer is ons genadig tussen 19:30-20:30! Gisteraand se kleedrepetisie lyk heel goed! Geniet.

Last night we took some "dress rehearsal" video of the Asteroid 1998 QE2 which is making a close (if you call 5.8 million km close!) pass to Earth on Friday night using the 20 inch. The video was saved on UstreamTV at

Asteroid 9 times size of ocean liner approaches Earth | MyScienceAcademy

Asteroid 9 times size of ocean liner approaches Earth | MyScienceAcademy

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Volksblad : Seldsame verskynsel in hemelruim te sien

23 Mei 2013 18:00 - Westelike horison - Jupiter bo, Venus en Merkurius onder

Volksblad : Seldsame verskynsel in hemelruim te sien

KAAPSTAD. – Venus, Jupiter en Mercurius gaan binnekort ’n dans in die lugruim uitvoer om uiteindelik ’n driehoek te vorm.
Dié planete sal van 22 Mei af saans sowat ’n halfuur tot ’n uur ná sonsondergang mooi begin wys.
Maar moenie 26 Mei misloop nie, want dán sal die drie op hul mooiste wees.
Die vorige keer wat die drie plante só ’n driehoek gevorm het, was in Mei 2011.
Ná vandeesmaand sal dit eers weer in Oktober 2015 sigbaar wees, volgens dr. Tony Phillips van Nasa.
Willie Koorts van die Suider-Afrikaanse Sterrewag (Saao) sê ’n mens moet laag op die horison kyk en eers soek na Venus, die helderste van die drie.
Die driehoek sal mooi sigbaar wees, selfs sonder ’n teleskoop, maar dit sal mooier deur ’n verkyker wees.
– Elsabé Brits

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

UFS101’s Annual Astronomy Fair - 27 April 2013

(Click to enlarge image)
Members of ASSA Bloemfontein  assisting with the UFS101 where First Year students learn more about Science. Students are looking at the moon through telescopes.

It is that time again for UFS101’s Annual Astronomy Fair on University of the Free State Campus. This will be held on Bloemfontein Campus in the Callie Human on 27 April 2013 from 9:30 -13:00.

You are invited to:
  • Observe the sun through a specially equipped telescope;
  • Witness the launching of Demo Rockets;
  • Attend a presentation inside of an inflatable planetarium (limited space)
  • Hear the latest news about SKA-South Africa and astronomy developments in Bloemfontein
  • Take a 552m walk on campus to see a Scale Model of our Solar System
  • Explore the latest astronomy applications for your iPhone/ iPad
  • and much more…
The entrance is free and you are welcome to bring the whole family. No booking is necessary. There will be tuckshop facilities available as well as products from exhibitors to be bought.

PROGRAMME FOR 27 April 2013 (Bloemfontein)

Time Activity Venue - Badminton Hall (Next to Callie Human Centre)
09:45 -10:15
Presentation: ‘The Universe: The 5% we know of and the "missing" 95%’ by Prof. Matie Hoffman

 Astrofair in Callie Human Centre
10:00 - 13:00 Expo,
12:45  Launching of Rockets

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Rosette Nebula in Moneceros and Carina Nebula in Carina

Click to Enlarge
Photographer: Herman Bonnet, ASSA Bloemfontein

NGC 2237 in Moneceros 
Rosette Nebula

Kamera -Canon 400D.
Mount -CGE PRO
Teleskoop-Skywatcher equinox 120 mm refraktor
Guiding-Nexguide kamera

11 x 2 min exposures
10 flats
10 darks
10 bias

Click to Enlarge
Photographer: Herman Bonnet, ASSA Bloemfontein
NGC 3372 in Carina
Carina Nebula

Kamera -Canon 400D.
Mount -CGE PRO
Teleskoop-Skywatcher equinox 120 mm refraktor
Guiding-Nexguide kamera

12 X 4MIN exposures
20 flats
20 darks
20 bias

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Blue Marble - The most viewed image in history

The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth, taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi).


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Chelyabinsk Meteor Flash

Chelyabinsk Meteor Flash
Image Credit & Copyright: Marat Ahmetvaleev
Explanation: A meteoroid fell to Earth on February 15, streaking some 20 to 30 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia at 9:20am local time. Initially traveling at about 20 kilometers per second, its explosive deceleration after impact with the lower atmosphere created a flash brighter than the Sun. This picture of the brilliant bolide (and others of its persistent trail) was captured by photographer Marat Ametvaleev, surprised during his morning sunrise session creating panoramic images of the nearby frosty landscape. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion of the 17 meter wide space rock with a mass of 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Actually expected to occur on average once every 100 years, the magnitude of the Chelyabinsk event is the largest known since the Tunguska impact in 1908.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 Passes the Earth

Asteroid 2012 DA14 Passes the Earth
Video Credit & Copyright: Daniel López (El Cielo de Canarias)
Explanation: There it goes. That small spot moving in front of background stars in the above video is a potentially dangerous asteroid passing above the Earth's atmosphere. This past Friday, the 50-meter wide asteroid 2012 DA14 just missed the Earth, passing not only inside the orbit of the Moon, which is unusually close for an asteroid of this size, but also inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. Unfortunately, asteroids this big or bigger strike the Earth every 1000 years or so. Were 2012 DA14 to have hit the Earth, it could have devastated a city-sized landscape, or stuck an ocean and raised dangerous tsunamis. Although finding and tracking potentially dangerous asteroids is a primary concern of modern astronomy, these small bodies or ice and rock are typically so dim that only a few percent of them have been found, so far. Even smaller chunks of ice and rock, like the (unrelated) spectacular meteors that streaked over Russia and California over the past few days, are even harder to find -- but pose less danger.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Nog `n Komeet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)

Klik om te vergroot
Vir die ouens wat vroeg opstaan of glad nie gaan slaap nie.
Komeet Lemon is sterk op koers na Octans en nou is C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) vroegoggend in die Suid-Ooste sigbaar. Nee ek het hom nog nie gesien nie. Te laag vir my. Sal dalk die naweek probeer en op die dak klim.

Maart se Sky and Telescope sê ons kan die komeet by volg. Die voorspelling is klaar daar dat dit nie so helder gaan wees as wat voorspel is nie.
Laat weet ons as jy die komeet sien. (

Skytools 3 gee hierdie voorspelling vir vannag.

On this night C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is best visible between 03:29 and 04:46, with the optimum view at 04:27. Look for it in Telescopium, low in the southeastern sky during morning twilight. It is obvious visually in the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Dob. Use the Ultima 42mm for optimum visual detection. It is magnitude 5.5 with a diameter of 4.5'.