30 AUGUST 2017 @ 19H00:

West Rand Astronomy Club Meeting

  • Dutch Reformed Church,
  • 844 Corlette Avenue, Witpoortjie
  • Bring your telescope if you would like to share the evening with the stars ( weather permitting)

Cost: Donation of R10 for the use of the venue which includes tea and coffee.

Telescopes will be set up for viewing (weather permitting). Members are encouraged to bring along telescopes, you can bring along observation sheets and any of your favourite astronomy books for discussion. Ask questions, share information and enjoy!


VENUEKromdraai Shooting Range. The Shooting Range closes at 5 pm.

DATE: Sundown – after 5pm  on 26 AUGUST.  Arrive after 5pm.

Bring along a telescope if you have one, A supper basket including crockery and cutlery a blanket to sit on, or chairs  and dress warmly..

Braais are permitted. If you have a braai you are welcome to bring that too.

Please remember, while star gazing the use of white light is not encouraged. Please bring a torch covered with red cellophane or a red headlamp. Also, as part of the star gazers etiquette, please do not litter.



As from July 2017, all members are required to complete a membership form annually.This form will be available can be down loaded from the website, from 1 August 2017.

Once completed please either hand it in at the next meeting or e mail to:  sales@telescopeshop.co.za



Club members show, talk, tell and help: schools, clubs, old age homes and many who want to know about astronomy and view the night skies.

17th. August:     Valhalla Primary School at Achterbergh

7th. September:  Montrose Primary at Achterbergh


Thanks go to Claire, Doryn, Johan, Neil (2) and all the members who worked so tirelessly in July, to bring so much joy and excitement to the Outreach Programs that were arranged. We hope to see you all again at the August programs.


Once again Mountain Sanctuary Park Star Party was most successful and an occasion to remember. Two nights of perfect weather and skies and star studded skies to view. We had 28 telescopes and a party of over 200 visitors, club members, star gazers and Oops, I forgot to look for little green men, perhaps there were some and they were so amazed by our beautiful Earth, they did a shape-change and decided to become Earthlings! As always the venue, very well run, now sports a new restaurant on the doorstep, making our daily bread so much easier to come by.

Star gazers were awed  by all the wonders the skies held and displayed, so little seen in our back yards. Jupiter and Saturn were exceptionally beautiful not to mention Tuc 47, the Jewel Box. Omega Centauri and our very own Milky Way. So many night sights where we just  sat and watched in awe. Yes, Planet Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone”, everything is perfect, so why would man want a one way ticket to Mars?


At our July meeting we listened a very interesting talk presented by Professor Lewis Ashwal;  talking on “Hidden Continents”.


Inside  6 million year old volcanic rock on Mauritius; Prof.Lew Ashwal, from the School of Geosciences, Wits University, and his team, recovered tiny crystals of Zircon that give ages of 2500 to 3000 million years. These ages are far older than any rocks that occur in the ocean basins (all are younger than about 200 million years), but are similar to some parts of the continents, where rocks as old as 4000 million years can be found in some places. This suggests therefore, that a fragment of the ancient continent must exist beneath the volcanoes of Mauritius, and that the old zircons were picked up by the magmas 6 million years ago. on their way to their surface eruption sites. This small piece of ancient continent was stranded in the Indian Ocean during the break-up of the Gondwana super continent, which started about 200 million years ago, and is still ongoing. We speculate that other ancient continental fragments may exist elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, and that we were once joined together to form a micro continent that we named “Mauritia”. Our work allows a better understanding of how continents break apart and how we can reconstruct the resulting “puzzle pieces” as a function of geologic time.

Map of Pangaea with Laurasia and Gondwana.

In paleogeography, Gondwana , also Gondwanaland, is the name given to an ancient supercontinent. It is believed to have sutured about 600 to 530 million years ago, joining East Gondwana to West Gondwana. Gondwana formed prior to Pangaea, and later became part of it.

Around 335 to 250 million years ago, Gondwana and Laurasia joined together to form the supercontinent Pangaea, which existed until approximately 215 to 175 million years ago. Gondwana then separated from Laurasia (the mid-Mesozoic-era) in the breakup of Pangaea, drifting farther south after the split. Gondwana itself then also broke apart.

Gondwana included most of the landmasses in today’s Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, and the Australian continent, as well as the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, which have now moved entirely into the Northern Hemisphere.



On Line Shopping and walk in shop




NASA scientists are excited about the upcoming close flyby of a small asteroid and plan to use its upcoming October close approach to Earth as an opportunity not only for science, but to test NASA’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense.

The target of all this attention is asteroid 2012 TC4 — a small asteroid estimated to be between 30 and 100 feet (10 and 30 meters) in size. On Oct. 12, TC4 will safely fly past Earth. Even though scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from the surface of Earth. The asteroid has been out of range of telescopes since 2012.Read more….https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/asteroid-flyby-will-benefit-nasa-detection-and-tracking-network

A space rock now designated as asteroid 2017 OO1 was detected on July 23, 2017 from the ATLAS-MLO telescope at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. An analysis of its trajectory revealed it had been closest to Earth on July 20 at 11:33 pm EDT (July 21, 03:33 UTC).This means the asteroid’s closest approach occurred 2.5 to 3 days before it was seen. Asteroid 2017 OO1 flyby had passed at about one-third the Earth-moon distance, or about 76,448 miles (123,031 km).

Read more…..http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2017-oo1-close-pass-undetected?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=adabe4cda8-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-adabe4cda8-394486409&mc_cid=adabe4cda8&mc_eid=c14898

  According to astrophysicists at Northwestern University, our origins are much less local than previously thought. In fact, according to their analysis – which they say is the first of its kind – we’re not just star stuff. We’re galaxy stuff. Read more...http://earthsky.org/space/origins-extragalactic-star-galaxy-stuff-galactic-winds?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=9d5b8753f3-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-9d5b8753f3-394486409&mc_cid=9d5b8753f3&mc_eid=c148988919
Similar to auroras on Earth, Saturn’s auroras are formed by charged particles raining down on the planet, colliding with the atmosphere and creating light, according to a statement from NASA. The charged particles come from the solar wind, a steady stream of material emanating from the sun. Read more…. https://www.space.com/37667-saturn-ghostly-aurora-cassini-photo.html

A newly discovered, roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star might be habitable, according to a team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile, along with other telescopes around the world. The exoplanet is at a distance from its star that allows temperatures mild enough for liquid water to pool on its surface.   Read more……https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/eso-discovers-earth-size-planet-in-habitable-zone-of-nearest-star


DATE                    SUNRISE                        SUNSET                     LENGTH OF DAY

3/8/2017                  6:45                            17:42                            10:55:41

10/8/2017                  6:40                             17:45                         11:05:08

19/8/2017                6:34                              17:49                           11:16:48

25/8/2017                6:27                               17:52                           11:25:03

31/8/2017                 6:21                               17:55                           10:33:06




DATE                     MOONRISE             MOONSET

01/08/2017               12:50                  01:26

07/08/2017               17:36                   06:19           FULL MOON

15/08/2017               00:18                  11:47           LAST QTR.

21/08/2017               06:09                  17:39            NEW MOON

29/06/2017              11:27                    00:09             FIRST QTR.

There is a partial lunar eclipse on 7th. August visible in Johannesburg.



Contact between Archimedes crater wall (bottom left) and floor (upper right). The floor is smooth and relatively flat compared to the sloped and rough elephant skin textured crater wall. LROC NAC M119883761, image width is 800 m.

Archimedes is an 83 km diameter crater located in east Imbrium basin (29.7° N, 4.0° W). Archimedes is notable for its smooth floor, but unlike other craters with smooth floors, Archimedes is flooded with mare basalt. Craters with flooded floors are geologically important as they can establish relative ages of features thanks to the geologic law of superposition. The depth of Archimedes crater is 2.1km.





The most visible planets in the sky this month are:

Jupiter: remains our very bright evening star in the west during the first half of the night. Brilliant in our night sky where it will stay until about October. It currently lies above the constellation Virgo and then eventually passes into Libra.

Venus:Is visible in the very early morning sky before dawn. It is dark in Gauteng until late in winter so one can see Venus from your garden as late as 5:45 am. We do not get to see Venus because she has become a daytime star for the time being.

Mercury: is visible at sunrise and just after sunset very low on the horizon.

Saturn: The planet  Saturn rises after dark and stays the night in our skies. Saturn is in the east in the early evening, is almost directly overheadas the evening progresses, moving westward.

Uranus:It is only possible to see Uranus low in the sky, just before dawn. It enjoys a time in the morning sky from end April until October when once again, it moves into the evening sky. So for a time, with a good telescope it might be possible to see Uranus in the very early dark dawn hours, very low in the sky.

Neptune:Reappears in the morning sky and stays there until September. It is a very small dot in the sky, hardly visible unless one knows where to look.

Normally, if one wants to see Uranus or Neptune: look in the sky and once you think you have found the planet, search in the same place each night for four nights. If the dot does not appear to have moved, then it will be either of those very distant planets and they appear to look bluish or greenish in colour.



NAME                                        CONSTELLATION                                       TYPE

NGC 3532                                  CARINA                                                      STAR CLUSTER                                                    CENTAURUS A                            CENTAURUS                                              ELIPTICAL GALAXY

NGC 253                                     SCULPTOR                                               SPIRAL GALAXY

NGC 3372                                    CARINA NEBULA                                       EMISSION NEBULA                                               HOMUNCULUS NEBULA               CARINA                                                     EMISSION NEBULA                                                SOUTHERN RING NEBULA           VELA                                                        PLANETARY  NEBULA                                                        NGC 3114                                                                                                      PIN CUSHION CLUSTER

M6                                               BELOW THE TAIL OF SCORPIUS             CLUSTER   (THE BUTTERFLY)

M4 AND M7                               ABOVE ANTARES IN TAIL OF SCORPIUS      CLUSTERS


Meteor                  Duration                                Max. Date                   Observation Prospect 

Piscis Australids      19 July to 17 August              28 July                              good

s. Aquarids              21July to 21 August               29 July                               good

a Capricornids        15 July to 29 August               30 July                              good

Best seen in the early hours of the morning before sunrise.

SA Sky Guide 2017


Comets are notoriously unpreditable. However if one is out looking upward between 2am and 4 pm one could see some coming from their radiant.The possible new meteor stream from Comet C/2015 D4 (Borisov). This should be visible up to 25th. August..

To read more visit:    http://www.space.com/16149-night-sky.html  &  http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html


satellite movement can be viewed on:      http://www.heavens-above.com


Some of the biggest galaxies in the universe are full of extinguished stars. But nearly 12 billion years ago, soon after the universe first was created, these massive galaxies were hotspots that brewed up stars by the billions.How these types of cosmic realms, called dusty starburst galaxies, became galactic dead zones is an enduring mystery.

read more……https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170731095400.htm

Dawn of the cosmos: Seeing galaxies that appeared soon after the Big Bang:

Long ago, about 300,000 years after the beginning of the universe (the Big Bang), the universe was dark. There were no stars or galaxies, and the universe was filled with neutral hydrogen gas. In the next half billion years or so the first galaxies and stars appeared. Their energetic radiation ionized their surroundings, illuminating and transforming the universe.

read more…….. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017

Milestones in the history of the Universe (not to scale). The intergalactic gas was in a neutral state from about 300,000 years after the Big Bang until light from the first generation of stars and galaxies began to ionize it. The gas was completely ionized after 1 billion years. The LAGER study takes a close look at the state of the Universe at 800 million years (yellow box) to investigate when and how this transformation occurred.
Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan


All your photographs are uploadable on our WRAC website and your photos are memories worth keeping, so share happiness with others.


Recently, WRAC received  many CD’s donated to our little library.  When visiting our meetings you are welcome to use our books and CD’s.

Our Library is not a cupboard full of amazing books. It is a cupboard full of knowledge to be shared.We are constantly amazed, by the knowledge we read and the knowledge we can share.


Einstein was an astronomer of the mind: “We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.”                                                                                                                                                         Einstein.


Stars and Deep Space  joy to all!

Regards Wrac.