Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The 2017 Solar Eclipse - The Best Images

Amateur potographer Kirsten Jorgensen captured this incredible once-in-a-lifetime shot from Lewiston, Idaho, of an airplane flying across the partial eclipse using a Nikon D5200 with 4 stacked filters (2 UV and 2 night). She’s now selling fine art prints of the image here.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ope-Aand by Boyden-Sterrewag! Saterdag 1 Julie 2017 | Open Evening at Boyden Observatory! Saturday 1 July2017

Ope-Aand by Boyden-Sterrewag! Saterdag 1 Julie 2017

Die Vriende van Boyden nooi die publiek vriendelik uit na hul OPE-AAND op SATERDAG 1 JULIE 2017 by BOYDEN-STERREWAG (langs Maselspoort). Die program begin 17:30 vir 18:00. Toegang is R50 per motor. Bespreking is nie nodig nie. Daar sal ook verversings te koop wees.

Daar sal ‘n buite-lug aanbieding en teleskoop-waarnemings wees oor: Die Winter Naghemel (ASSA Bloemfontein)

Daar sal ook vanaf 18:00 – 19:00 ‘n spesiale program vir kinders plaasvind. Koste: R10 per kind.

Toegang: R50 per motor - geen bespreking nie

Kantoor-ure (Weeksdae) Yolande Fick, tel. 051 401 9751 (of/or )
Na-ure: Prof. Matie Hoffman, tel. 083 625 7154

Open Evening at Boyden Observatory! Saturday 1 July2017

The Friends of Boyden cordially invite the public to their OPEN EVENING on SATURDAY 1 JULY 2017 at the BOYDEN OBSERVATORY (next to Maselspoort). The programme begins at 17:30 for 18:00. Entrance is R50 per vehicle. Booking is not necessary. There will be refreshments for sale.

There will be an open-air presentation and telescope observations on:

The Winter Night Sky (ASSA Bloemfontein)

There will also be a special programme for children from 18:00 – 19:00. Cost: R10 per child.

Entrance: R50 per car – no booking

Office hours (weekdays): Yolande Fick, tel. 051 401 9751 (of/or
After hours: Prof. Matie Hoffman, tel. 083 625 7154

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Photo: Hannes Pieterse (ASSA Bloemfontein)
A Star Party in the warm heart of Central South Africa
23 - 25  June 2017 (Friday - Sunday)

Prepairing for the FS Star Party

 About Scope covers 
- Scope covers 1
Scope covers 2
- Scope cover 3

ASSA Deepsky 100 Observing List - Created for the FS Star party (18:57 - 0546)

- They are all visible - Try a Deepsky Marathon

A comet in your eypiece (24 June 2017 - already visible)

On this night C/2015 V2 (Johnson) is best visible between 18:34 and 00:10, with the optimum view at 20:24. Look for it in Virgo, high in the sky in complete darkness. It is obvious visually in the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Dob. Use the Ultima 2" LX 17 mm 2.0x for optimum visual detection. It is magnitude 8 with a diameter of 9.6'.

- Chart of the comets position (24June 2017) Make a printout and bring along.

To dew or not to dew

 Keep it simple
 Keep it red:
  • Are your cellphone glued to the palm of your hand?  Use Twilight for Android!

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.
- Cell Phone addiction. Make a red cover.

- Computers: Screen not to face your neigbours.

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

 Download Observing lists for the Free State and Karoo Starparties

 - Scroll down to Observing Lists  for the Southern Hemisphere
( ASSA Deepsky 100, Lacaille and Messier)

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. 

2016 2°C (23:00 Friday);     10°C (00:00 Saturday; with wind and clouds moved over late in the evening. Clear early morning, with wind)
2015 dew caused havoc. Bring your dew heaters. Come prepared!
2014 Extreme –  We measured -7°C during the first night. Prepare with warm clothing and bedding.

Bring your own food according to your dietary preferences.
Hot beverages will be available during the night at a Coffee point close to the observing 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  –  23 June 2017
Afternoon: Arriving and setting up at observing point
Evening - Early Morning:  Observing

–  24 June 2017
Morning: Visit Brandfort or sleep late; (No official programme).

Evening - Early Morning:  Observing

Sunday –  25 June 2017
Breakfast and we all leave! 


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 (Friday/Saturday afternoon) available.

- Venue available for Friday and Saturday night (23/24 June 2017)


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:                         (Will add to Whatsapp group)
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

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