27 April 2016 @ 19H00:

West Rand Astronomy Club Meeting

  • Dutch Reformed Church,
  • 844 Corlette Avenue, Witpoortjie
  • Kenny Neville
  • Discussion of Internal Club Matters

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!




THE Annual Senekal Star Party starts from 2 pm. Friday 6 May until Sunday morning 10 am. 8 May.We camp in tents and caravans on the koppie beyond the Farm house.

Bring your own camping equipment food and plenty of warm wear for the cool Free State nights.

No bright white lights please!

 7 MAY 2016 from Sundown:


For those who will not be attending that Senekal Star Party, Weather permitting, our normal Star Party will take place.

New members and visitors welcome.  A chair. Also something warm to wear the nights have turned quite chilly.

  • If weather looks suspect please check WRAC website from 3:15pm on the Saturday to confirm if stargazing is still on.

On Line Shopping and walk in shop


Notice to members:

Wrac does on going Outreach programs from month to month throughout the year.

Any members who have telescopes and who wish to enjoy the excitement of  showing others the night skies, please leave your name and number with Jess by e-mail so that you can be included in the program.

  • Secretary@wrac.org.za
  • sales@telescopeshop.co.za

International Astronomical Search Collaboration:

For those who would like to participate in the International Astronomical Search Collaboration here are the dates and campaigns for the next few months.  I’d sincerely like to have a team available for the Pan-STARRS campaign starting on 31 March to May 5. Members from Pretoria and the WRAC are welcome to participate.

Essential tools for participation. A computer, an internet connection and patience.

We have Pan-STARRS searches in Spring 2016 (  March 31-May 5).  We can probably accommodate 2 South African teams in each of these campaigns.  We have searches using data from the Astronomical Research Institute (  March 21-April 25, March 21-April 25).  Each of these campaigns can have 2 South African teams.






The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. There is now clear evidence for substantial numbers of three types of exoplanets; gas giants, hot-super-Earths in short period orbits, and ice giants. The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet.

Kepler Science

The scientific objective of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems. This is achieved by surveying a large sample of stars to:

  • Determine the percentage of terrestrial and larger planets that are in or near the habitable zone of a wide variety of stars
  • Determine the distribution of sizes and shapes of the orbits of these planets
  • Estimate how many planets there are in multiple-star systems
  • Determine the variety of orbit sizes and planet reflectivities, sizes, masses and densities of short-period giant planets
  • Identify additional members of each discovered planetary system using other techniques
  • Determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.




The Sun our most precious star, is capable of producing monstrous eruptions that can breakdown radio communication and power supplies here on Earth. It is said that solar storms rarely cause power cuts when they cause auroras but, if Earth were to experience a solar super flare, living on Earth could be an apocalyptic experience and we probably would be no more.

According to members of the Aarhus University in Denmark, not withstanding the non existence of Earth after the flare, this could be a possibility. Luckily, the solar eruptions that have encountered Earths magnetic field as yet, have only caused majestic, colour coded orchestras of the night, constantly reminding us of the unpredictability of our closest star!

However, according to the Aarhus University scientists, solar flares are nothing compared to other stars ‘super flares’. Today, these super flares are as mysterious as they were four years ago when discovered by the Kepler Mission. ( see above).

The question is: Are super flares and solar flares formed in the same manner? If so, is the sun capable of producing a super flare?

https://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/superflare describes super flares, describes flares: “as very strong explosions observed on stars with energies up to ten thousand times that of typical solar flares, therefore, solar super flares could have very drastic effects, especially if they occur as multiple events.

Scientists have worked out that these huge bursts of radiation and particles occur roughly every 350 years. The last one was 156

years ago. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that our electronics, satellites and communications are safe for a while yet.

 Sunrise and Sunset:

     APRIL 2016:                       Sunrise:                     Sunset:             Day Length:

  •   1    April                             6.18                            18.09                   11:09
  • 11    April                             6.22                            17.58                   11:46
  • 20   April                              6:27                            17.50                   11:23
  • 30   April                              6:32                            17:41                   11:11


Never look at the sun without proper protection.

Looking at the sun through a telescope or binoculars without the necessary equipment or protection Will Blind You.

Moon in April:

  • 07 April      –        New Moon             Rise 06:03          Set 18:12
  • 22 April      –        full Moon               Rise 18:09          Set  06:26


Planets in April:


Mercury: Mercury is visible in the north low on the horizon. In a light polluted area, it will not be visible.

Venus: The cool lady of the night, joins to make the the big five as she rises due east to become our morning star.

Mars and Saturn: rise in the East from early to mid evening. Once they are up, they are in the sky for the rest of the evening. Each night they get brighter until late May and early June when they reach their best. Keep observing them to see how they change.As Scorpious rises Mars and Saturn find Antares to be the third marker to form a bright triangle, very prominent in the early morning hours.

Jupiter: The king of planets! lights up the sky from early evening. through a telescope one can see Jupiter together with three to 4 moons.



 Deep-sky objects:

Autumn has arrived again, and the nights are getting longer. Anyone at night time can take some time off to stare up at the Autumn skies and see the Milky Way, and the constellations of Carina, Puppis and Vela, blaze across our night sky. Orion the Hunter and his dog Canis major are also magnificent.  Nights are often cool now, so don’t forget to dress warmly before doing any extended star watching.Keeping ones head and feet warm keeps body warmth in so a cap and warm socks are a good idea.

NGC 2244      the Rosette Nebula in Monoceros

NGC 6025      in Triangulum Australis

M42                found twisted in with Orion’s sword. Orions is deep in the west and moving away while Scorpious is getting ready to rise.

M1                  The Crab Nebula, the bright star that marks the tip on one of the horns of Taurus only to be seen very early in the evening, in the west and not for long so take the last chance you have until it rises in the east again.

NGC2024       the Horsehead nebula is also to be found in constellation Orion, sinking fast in the west and gone by mid evening.

M27                One of the most difficult objects to find, that is M27 the Dumbell Nebula and not least is..

NGC3242       The Ghost of Jupiter.

M57                lies in Lyra, the Ring Nebula. Though it appears small, its very magnificence as a nebula, lies in the clear cut, distinctive outline and the completeness of the ring form.

There are many more beauties. Try for any of the 100 Messier Objects!  So out with your telescopes and cellphone apps.! Happy hunting to the wanderers of the sky.



 Meteor Showers:

The LYRIDS:  The showers begin around 19 April and reach a high point around 25 April.

The ETA AQUARIDS:  Begin around  24 April and can be seen until about 20 May.

Moonlight is a chaser. A dark sky is important so patch in to see what the moon is doing and schedule your dates and times for meteor sightings.



 Satellite movement:

Satellite movement can be viewed on:


All your photographs are uploadable on our WRAC website and your photos are memories worth keeping, so share happiness with others. send your photos to our website manager, Neil.   e-mail: sales@telescopeshop.co.za

Unfortunately there are no current wrac website pictures to up load : Come on members, Please send in your pictures!


When you are courting a nice girl and hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.   Einstein




Regards Wrac.