Report: 11th SSP. (February 05 – 07, 2016)

The Autumn 2016 SSP was held on the weekend of February 05–07 at Night Sky Caravan Farm, Bonnievale, South Africa.

Gallery

Exploring space from Night Sky Caravan Farm.

Celebrations!

Socializing.

Speakers.

The Telescope Area.

Talks.

Braai.

(left) Crescent Moon on Friday morning (Feb 05, 05:15) and Saturday morning (Feb 06, 05:20). (right) NGC 2808, a beautiful globular cluster, often overlooked, located midway between the False and Diamond Cross.

Astrophotos by Chris Vermeulen

LMC, SMC and 47 Tuc.

The Pleiades, M 45.

eta Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372).

Orion Nebula (Messier 42).

Coal Sack and Crux.

Southern star trails.

Archived

Who’s coming?

To date (2016.02.01) the following sixty-seven fantastic people have already registered:

Jonathan Balladon, Deon Begemann, Ronelle Begemann, Ray Brederode, Dominique Brink, Johan B. Brink, Nellie Brink, Alan Cassells, Rose Cassells, Charl Cater, Yolande Cater, Adelle Coetzee, Andre Coetzee, Mariekie Coetzee, Martin Coetzee, Pamela Cooper, Karin de Bruin, Pierre de Villiers, Derek Duckitt, Gail Duckitt, Barry Dumas, Miemie Dumas, Dwayne Engelbrecht, Iain Finlay, Edward Foster, Lynnette Foster, Louis Fourie, Sebastian Guile, Sarah Jane Hart, Clair Ingram, Marie Jordaan, Susan Joubert, Cheyenne Kersting, Christine Kersting, Jamie Kersting, Kechil Kirkham, Evan Knox-Davies, Paul Kruger, Aka Kuehn, Volker Kuehn, Lia Labuschagne, Aurelie Lemiere, Martin Lyons, Eddy Nijeboer, Jannie Nijeboer, Deon Pitzer, Kim Reitz, Marius Reitz, John Richards, Leslie de Rose, Dirk Rossouw, Erika Rossouw, John Sadler, Auke Slotegraaf, Magda Streicher, Tertius Syfert, Alida Taljaard, Wessel Taljaard, Bani van der Merwe, Corne van Dyk, Willem van Zyl, Chris Vermeulen, Gerhard Vermeulen, Wendy Vermeulen, Haddad Viljoen, Jocelyn Webster, and Jupiter Wilde.

Jopie Coetzee and Pieternel Coetzee also registered.

Programme

Friday

18:00 Meet & Greet in the Social Tent: Introduce yourself to everyone while enjoying a cup of coffee (or tea)
19:30 Get ready for Sirius B! (Telescope Area)
20:15 All lights out
20:30 Constellation Explorers & Beginners (Telescope Area)
20:30 Deep-Sky Challenge starts

Saturday

08:30 Beginners discussion
10:30 Tea & Coffee in the Social Tent
11:00 Magda Streicher: “Deep-Sky Delights”
Magda will take a new look at a selection of deep-sky favourites. Magda became an active amateur astronomer 20 years ago and has served on the ASSA council for 10 years. She was elected President in 2008 and became an honorary member in 2010. She observes with a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and shares her interests through regular radio talks and articles, including a “Deep Sky Delights” column in MNASSA. Her book “Astronomy Delights” was published in 2012 and she’s now busy with a second volume.
11:45 Bani vd Merwe: “KAT-7 and MeerKAT models – Update”
12:15 Pierre de Villiers: “How to foster an interest in, and enjoyment of, astronomy (workshop)”
Pierre will share his own experience and that of the Hermanus Astronomy Centre (HAC) in promoting an interest in astronomy, highlighting successful initiatives (special interest groups, youth clubs, beginners astronomy) and pointing out problem areas (average membership age, active participation rather than “being entertained”,effective involvement and retention of younger people). The voluntary gathering of amateur astronomers at this SSP is a golden opportunity to distil the essence of what drives participants’ interest in astronomy, for all formal or informal astronomy associations to learn and benefit from. Pierre is President of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa and Chair of HAC.
13:15 Braai
14:56 Lucky Draw If You’re There!
15:00 Ray Brederode: “The Discoveries of Rosetta & Philae”
Ray takes a look at the discoveries of the Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander, covering recent scientific papers leading right up to the presentation date. He will provide an introduction to the mission objectives and consider the current status of the mission and discuss some of the on-board instrumentation designed to meet the mission objectives. Ray will share a selection of slides depicting data and images obtained from the instruments, and discuss the related discoveries. Ray is the subsystem manager for the Control and Monitoring (CAM) team of MeerKAT.
16:00 Charl Cater: “Green Pea Galaxies”
“Green Pea” galaxies, discovered by volunteers in the Galaxy Zoo project in 2007, are rare types of early galaxies experiencing very high rates of star formation. They exist at a time when the Universe was three-quarters of its current age, making them great laboratories in which to study galaxy evolution and star formation in the early Universe. Charl is currently trying to make a graceful exit from advertising by studying towards a B.Sc in astrophysics and applied mathematics at UCT. When not looking at the stars he daydreams about strapping himself to a rocket and venturing to touch them. His spirit animal is Elon Musk.
16:45 Auke Slotegraaf: “To Forever Remain a Child: Astonomy and cultural heritage in South Africa”
Like all nations and peoples, South Africa has a rich astronomical tradition. The astronomical heritage of the peoples who have lived, as well as those presently living, in what we now call .za, deserves to be made known and shared with everyone. I will summarize ongoing discussions aimed at establishing a national centre for astronomical heritage, listen keenly to your reactions to these plans, and attempt to cajole you to volunteer as founder members and collaborators.
17:30 Feedback: Constellation Exploration & Deep-Sky Challenge
17:45 World Famous SSP Pub Quiz
19:20 Group photo (outside the Social Tent)
19:30 Supper
20:15 All lights out
20:30 Constellation Exploration, Part II (Telescope Area), Beginners with Ed and Lynnette (Beginner’s Area). Deep-Sky Challenge.

Sunday

03:30 Deep-Sky Challenge ends
09:30 Tea & coffee in the Social Tent; Presentation of certificates
Farewell until next time! (2016 Spring SSP, October 28 – 30)

Speakers

Magda Streicher

Magda’s Astronomy Delights — A new look at some favourite deep-sky objects, including some of the beautiful nebulae in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Bani van der Merwe

Building the KAT-7 & MeerKAT models — An update and progress report on Bani’s popular talk at the previous SSP.

Pierre de Villiers

How to foster an interest in and enjoyment of astronomy: An interactive discussion aimed at extracting the main drivers of participants’ interest in astronomy. — Pierre will share his experiences and those of the Hermanus Astronomy Centre in promoting an interest in astronomy, highlighting successful initiatives (special interest groups, youth clubs, beginner’s astronomy) and pointing out problem areas (average membership age, active participation rather than “being entertained”, effective involvement and retention of younger people). The voluntary gathering of amateur astronomers at this SSP is a golden opportunity to distil the essence of what drives participants’ interest in astronomy, for all formal or informal astronomy associations to learn and benefit from.

Ray Brederode

The Discoveries of Rosetta & Philae — Ray takes a look at the discoveries of the Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander, covering recent scientific papers leading right up to the presentation date. He will provide an introduction to the mission objectives and consider the current status of the mission. He will discuss some of the on board instrumentation designed to meet the mission objectives. This will be followed by a presentation of slides depicting data and images obtained from the instruments, accompanied by a discussion of the related discoveries.

Charl Cater

Green Pea Galaxies — “Green Pea” galaxies, named after their small, round shapes and green appearance in images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) are thought to be a type of Luminous Blue Compact Galaxy experiencing very high rates of star formation. Since their discovery by volunteers in the Galaxy Zoo project in 2007, it has been shown that they are purely star-forming, thus without Active Galactic Nuclei, and are found at redshifts between z = 0.122 and z = 0.360. These rare galaxies are no bigger than 5000 pc across and have an average mass of 3,000 million M_Sun. The green colour in the SDSS images are due to strong [OIII] emission lines to be found at 500.7nm. The Peas occur in environments that are less than two-thirds the density of normal galaxy environments and exist at a time when the Universe was three-quarters of it’s current age. More recent investigations show them to also have very strong magnetic fields – which is in contrast with current understanding of how galaxies develop their magnetic fields over time. The Peas are therefore great laboratories in which to study galaxy evolution and star formation in the early Universe.

Auke Slotegraaf

To Forever Remain a Child — Like all nations and peoples, South Africa has a rich astronomical tradition. The astronomical heritage of the peoples who have lived, as well as those presently living, in what we now call .za, deserves to be made known and shared with everyone. I will summarize ongoing discussions aimed at establishing a national centre for astronomical heritage, listen keenly to your reactions to these plans, and attempt to cajole you to volunteer as founder members and collaborators.

Pub Quiz teams

Team A: Deon Begemann, Ronelle Begemann, Dwayne Engelbrecht, Louis Fourie, Clair Ingram, Magda Streicher, Alida Taljaard, Wessel Taljaard
Team B: Martin Lyons, Johan Brink, Nellie Brink, Dominique Brink, Derek Duckitt, Gail Duckitt, Lia Labuschagne, Jocelyn Webster
Team C: Leslie Rose, Alan Cassells, Rose Cassells, Christine Kersting, Cheyenne Kersting, Jamie Kersting, Paul Kruger, Volker Kuehn, Aka Kuehn
Team D: Charl Cater, Yolande Cater, Sebastian Guile, Aurelie Lemiere, Bani van der Merwe, Wendy Vermeulen, Jupiter Wilde
Team E: Pierre de Villiers, Iain Finlay, Marie Jordaan, Susan Joubert, Dirk Rossouw, Erika Rossouw, Ray Brederode
Team F: Jonathan Balladon, Martin Coetzee, Mariekie Coetzee, Adelle Coetzee, Andre Coetzee, Even Knox-Davies, John Richards, Haddad Viljoen
Team G: Kechil Kirkham, Karin de Bruin, Sarah Jane Hart, Eddy Nijeboer, Jannie Nijeboer, Deon Pitzer, Corne van Dyk, Gerhard Vermeulen
Team H: Chris Vermeulen, Jopie Coetzee, Pieternel Coetzee, Pamela Cooper, Barry Dumas, Miemie Dumas, Marius Reitz, Kim Reitz