Notice 01: 12th SSP. (October 26-31, 2016)

The 12th SSP will be held at Night Sky Caravan Park, Bonnievale, South Africa, from 26 to 31 October 2016.

Due to popular demand, the star party has been extended by several days to allow for more personal observing time.

The formal programme runs from the 28th to the morning of the 30th of October, but everyone is encouraged to spend some more time under the stars – from Wednesday October 26 to Monday, October 31.

• Wednesday Oct 26 — observing on your own
• Thursday Oct 27 — observing on your own
• Friday Oct 28 – Sunday Oct 30 — SSP programme
• Sunday Oct 30 — observing on your own
• Monday Oct 31 — late departures

Register now!

We can only accommodate 70 people at this SSP so please download the registration form and get it back to us ASAP to secure your spot.

Who’s coming?

To date (Oct 23) there are only 13 places left (!), the other 56 have been taken by Rene Auras, Tyron Auras, Deon Begeman, Ronelle Begeman, Dominique Brink, Johan Brink, Nellie Brink, Alan Cassells, Rose Cassells, Pamela Cooper, Lynn Court, Caitlin Cupido, Caycee Cupido, Gavin Cupido, Karin de Bruin, Chris de Coning, Andre de Villiers, Pierre de Villiers, Wanda Diaz-Merced, Barry Dumas, Miemie Dumas, Arnè Esterhuizen, Iain Finlay, Chris Forder, Edward Foster, Lynnette Foster, Louis Fourie, Peter Harvey, Susan Joubert, Robert Ketteringham, Evan Knox-Davies, Bennie Kotze, Nicolas Kröner, Thomas Kröner, Paul Kruger, Anna Kunz, Ruth Kuys, Lee Labuschagne, Martin Lyons, Eddy Nijeboer, Jannie Nijeboer, Laura Norris, Peter Norton, Marius Reitz, John Richards, Leslie Rose, Rogan Roth, Auke Slotegraaf, James Smith, Lena Smith, Herman Steyn, Kiona van der Merwe, Corne van Dyk, Juanita van Rensburg, Chris Vermeulen, Wendy Vermeulen and Abigail Zwartz-Cupido.

Several party-goers have taken good advantage of the extended dates; Eddy & Jannie Nijeboer, Barry & Miemie Dumas, Louis Fourie, Auke Slotegraaf, Amar Sharma, Alan & Rose Cassells, and Edward & Lynnette Foster will be staying 5 nights or more.


Download the Constellation Exploration PDF (4.6 Meg file)

Download the 2016 Spring Deep-Sky Challenge PDF (1 Meg file)


Download the programme PDF

Wednesday, October 26 & Thursday, October 27

20:00 Observing and such.

Friday, October 28

18:00 Meet & Greet in the Social Tent; introduce yourself to everyone while enjoying a cup of coffee (or tea).
18:30 Prepare for the night’s observing. Constellation Exploration (ConEx) participants, please make sure your telescopes are set up in the special designated area.
19:30 If you registered for the Beginners Programme, meet with Edward and Lynnette in the Social Tent; don’t forget your chair. Everyone else, join Auke in the Telescope Area for the What’s Up Tonight. Remember to bring a chair.
20:30 If you registered for the Deep-Sky Challenge, then go at it! If you registered for ConEx, join Auke in the Telescope Area. Everyone else, enjoy the night’s observing, socializing, and chilling!
00:00 Beginners Programme for Friday ends.

Saturday, October 29

00:30 Round #2 of Constellation Exploring in the Telescope Area.
05:00 Get ready for Sirius B! (Finder chart in your SSPassport.)
08:30 Beginners Programme resumes in the Social Tent.
10:30 Tea & coffee in the Social Tent.

11:00 Speaker: Prof Herman Steyn (Stellenbosch University)
“Space missions from Rosetta to CubeSats”

12:00 Short talk: Dr Pierre de Villiers (ASSA Hermanus)
“A novel observatory in the making”

12:30 Feedback: Share your observing highlights from last night

12:45 News Update: Fresh news from the world’s press release

13:00 Braai.

14:56 Lucky Draw – but only if you’re in the Social Tent on time!

15:00 Speaker: Martin Lyons (Somerset West)
“Caring and obsessing over optics – a layman’s perspective”

15:30 Short Talk: Auke Slotegraaf (Centre for Astronomical Heritage)
“An update and a call to arms”

15:45 Speaker: Dr Wanda Diaz-Merced (Puerto Rico)
“How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars”
16:30 Group photo outside the Social Tent.
17:30 Demonstration: How to clean eyepieces.
17:45 World Famous SSP Pub Quiz in the Social Tent.
19:00 Instructions on setting up and using telescopes for newcomers.
19:30 Supper and prepare for the night’s observing.
20:30 Beginners Programme resumes.
20:30 Constellation Exploration resumes in the Telescope Area.
20:30 Deep-Sky Challenge resumes.
00:00 Beginners Programme ends.

Sunday, October 30

03:30 Deep-Sky Challenge ends. Find Auke in the dark, with your notes!
09:00 Tea & coffee in the Social Tent.
10:00 Farewell until next time!
• 2017 Summer SSP, February 22 – 27, at Leeuwenboschfontein
• 2017 Spring SSP, October 18 – 23.
20:00 More observing and such

Monday, October 31

10:00 Social Tent will be taken down.
Farewell until next time!

Deep-Sky Challenge: Explore the Local Group

The theme for the Challenge is Galaxies of the Local Group. Late-October is prime time for galaxy viewing, and we’ll be exploring the best the sky has to offer.
Some Local Group galaxies

Galaxy viewing starts right after sunset, when the centre of our own Milky Way is visible low in the west. The edge of our spiral disk is draped along the horizon, from Carina in the south to Cygnus in the north. As the night progresses the action turns north- and east-ward as Orion rises, drawing the Milky Way up with it. Before daybreak, the Milky Way spans from Perseus and Auriga in the north to Crux in the South.

Meanwhile, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are in pole position for observing. The SMC is perfectly placed at the start of the evening (it culminates at 21:00 on November 30), while the LMC rises throughout the course of the night. Many hundreds of deep-sky objects are on display in the two Clouds, so come prepared!

Soon after nightfall, the rich galactic fields of Sculptor and Grus are in view. Gems like Caroline’s Galaxy (NGC 253), the Black-Bottomed Galaxy (NGC 247), the Sculptor Pinwheel (NGC 300), and the String of Pearls (NGC 55) are keen to be viewed.

Around midnight, the Andromeda Galaxy (NGC 224, M31) and the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) are well placed.

Finally, shortly before daybreak, the Hamburger (NGC 5128, Cen A) and the Golden Coin (NGC 4945) swing into view, heralding bed time!