Notice 03: 14th SSP. (October 18-23, 2017)

The 14th Southern Star Party (2017 Spring) will be held at Leeuwenboschfontein, a guest farm set on the edge of the Little Karoo about 200km from Cape Town.


Registration is now closed.

Late registrations must be paid in cash on arrival at the Registration table in the Social Barn. Please note that there is a R50 levy for late registration.


  • Wednesday, Oct 18 — observing on your own
  • Thursday, Oct 19 — observing on your own
  • Friday, Oct 20 – Sunday, Oct 22 — Formal SSP programme
  • Sunday, Oct 22 — observing on your own
  • Monday, Oct 23 — late departures

Formal programme

Download the formal SSP programme (PDF).

Friday, October 20

18:00 Meet & Greet in the Social Barn
19:30 All lights out – start to dark adapt
19:30 View Saturn, Neptune and the Moon (Telescope Area; everyone welcome)
20:00 La Caille Marathon meets in the Social Barn (with Deon Begemann; registered peeps)
20:00 – 22:00 What’s Up Tonight (with Telescopes) (Telescope Area; everyone welcome)
22:15 – 23:00 Beginners Q&A (with Edward and Lynnette Foster; registered peeps)
23:15 – dawn Orionid Meteor Watch Team meets in the Social Barn (with Auke Slotegraaf; registered peeps)

Saturday, October 21

05:51 Sunrise
08:00 Tea & coffee with rusks in the Social Barn for the early birds!
08:30 Beginners discussion about star maps and Star Wheels (Social Barn; registered peeps)
10:00 Tea & coffee in the Social Barn
10:30 Michael Wolfson: Building an Ultra-Light Dobsonian Telescope
11:15 Anton Binneman: SKA Facts & Fiction
12:00 Get ready for the braai (take food, chairs etc. up to the lapa)
12:30 Lekker braai in die lapa
14:30 Pierre de Villiers: Astronomy Outreach Ideas
15:00 Michelle Cluver: How will HI-vision change the way we see our Universe?
15:45 Deep-sky observing: Deon Begemann – La Caille
16:00 Deep-sky observing: Corne van Dyk – A personal perspective
16:15 Deep-sky observing: Pierre de Villiers – Sketching while observing
16:30 Deep-sky observing: Auke Slotegraaf – Concluding thoughts
16:45 Group photo on the lawn in front of De Oude Opstal (everyone, please!)
19:30 All lights out – start to dark adapt
19:30 La Caille Marathon, Part 2 (with Deon Begemann; registered peeps)
20:00 – 22:00 What’s Up Tonight (with Telescopes). Part II. (Telescope Area; everyone welcome)
22:15 – 23:59 Beginners Q&A and practical exercise with star charts (with Edward and Lynnette Foster)
23:30 – dawn Orionid Meteor Watch Team (with Auke Slotegraaf; registered peeps)

Sunday, October 22

04:00 La Caille Marathon ends
05:50 Sunrise
09:00 Tea & coffee with rusks in the Social Barn for the early birds!
10:00 Award presentations and farewells until next time! (2018 Autumn SSP, March 14–19)
11:00 Chill out
19:30 All lights out – start to dark adapt

Monday, October 23

10:00 Goodbye Leeuwenboschfontein, until next year!


Prof. Michael Wolfson (Canada) – Holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cambridge and retired as full professor in Population Health Modeling / Populomics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa in 2017. Michael has expanded his early interest in telescopes and now not only builds his own instruments but observes with them as well

Dr. Anton Binneman – Holds a Ph.D. in Narrative Family Therapy, a B.Com. in Human Resource Management and an M.Phil. in Market Management and Marketing Research. He is currently the Stakeholder Manager for the SKA in the Northern Cape where he manages stakeholder relationships with the Provincial government, local government and all the way down to individuals on the ground.

Dr. Pierre de Villiers – Holds a Ph.D. in physics and is the chairperson of the Hermanus Astronomy Centre and also the immediate past president of ASSA.  Pierre has spearheaded a wide range of practical astronomy projects as well astronomy outreach projects conducted by the Hermanus Centre.  These projects are in the immediate vicinity of Hermanus and further afield in the Overberg. Pierre is also a very capable amateur astronomer in his own right too.

Prof. Michelle Cluver – Michelle completed a Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Cape Town, following which she held a postdoctoral position at the California Institute of Technology. She researches the mid-infrared properties of galaxies observed by the WISE space telescope, particularly those in groups. She is also currently Associate Director of the Inter-University Institute of Data Intensive Astronomy, at the University of the Western Cape.

Speakers in the “Observing Hour” section

Dr. Deon Begemann – Holds a Ph.D. in integrated pest control from the University of Pretoria and, although retired, he still acts as a consultant. His interest in Astronomy originated in 1978  when a pamphlet was pushed under his door predicting an apocalyptic end to the world on 3 July 1978. He and a colleague spent the night in the company of an adequate supply of beer waiting for the event. Nothing happened but it prompted Deon set off to the library and photostat his first Star Chart. After his retirement, he and his wife Ronelle moved to Stillbaai where astronomy has become one of their major activities.

Corné van Dyk – Is a Cloud Infrastructure Architect as well as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur astronomer.

Dr. Pierre de Villiers – See above.

Auke Slotegraaf – Deep Sky Director of ASSA is a seasoned amateur astronomer with a broad understanding of the night sky and a past master at finding his way around the dazzling array of astronomical objects with or without a telescope.

Who is attending?

These super-brilliant people have registered to date [2017 October 05]: Theresa Beelders, Deon Begemann, Ronelle Begemann, Anton Binneman, Samuel Botha, Steyn Botha, Anja Bruton, Ryan Bruton, Alan Cassells, Rose Cassells, Charl Cater, Yolandi Cater, Michelle Cluver, Adelle Coetzee, Andre Coetzee, Mariekie Coetzee, Martin Coetzee, Sarah Collier, Pamela Cooper, Lynne Court, Chris de Coning, Anton de Villiers, Pierre de Villiers, Derrick Duckitt, Alan Duggan, Barry Dumas, Miemie Dumas, Arne Esternuizen, Iain Finlay, Chris Forder, Edward Foster, Lynnette Foster, Jana Fourie, Louis Fourie, Andre Gouws, Lara Gouws, Tom Jarret, Christine Kersting, Robert Ketteringham, Kechil Kirkham, Evan Knox-Davids, Bennie Kotze, Paul Kruger, Lia Labuschagne, Deidre Laing, Elizabeth Laubscher, Peter Laubscher, Carl Lindemann, Anya Lock, Dylan Lock, Gavin Lock, Suki Lock, Amelie Ludick, Benjamin Ludick, Danie Ludick, Sunel Ludick, Martin Lyons, Sally Macfarlane, Kim Reitz, Marius Reitz, John Richards, Henda Scott, Chris Shelvey, Katrien Shelvey, Barry Shipman, Auke Slotegraaf, Johan Uys, Sandy Uys, Kiona van der Merwe, Corne van Dyk, Willem van Zyl, Wendy Vermeulen, Michael Wolfson, and Alex Wright.

The Big 5 of the African Sky

The Big 5 put on a lovely show during this SSP, as the diagram below shows. A wide swathe of the Milky Way will be visible, including the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Find out more about the Big 5 on the ASSA Deep-Sky Section website.