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26 APRIL 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 on 29 APRIL 2017.  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.

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.

On Line Shopping and walk in shop



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


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




As short as ten years ago, one laughed and jokingly made fun of the idea of landing and living on Mars, while others were quite serious and gave many a reason why this will never happen.

Currently NASA on the other hand is even more serious about going there. NASA has set their goals as being:

  1. Sending humans to orbit Mars, the Red planet; having even targeted a time for this to happen, that being 2030-2032.
  2. Science missions will pave the way to Mars.
  3. Demonstrate entry, descent, landing and in-situ resource use.
  4. Science also aims to conduct a robotic round trip demonstration and returning with samples. They plan for this to take place in the late 2020’s.

For years NASA has been sending orbiters, landers and rovers to Mars, with the intention of gathering sufficient scientific detail for the possibility of landing human explorers to live on Mars.

The  “Curiosity” rover gathered radiation data while the upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of oxygen and other resources conducive to life on Mars.

Before humans move into space, there is a lot of research to be done and possibly using Mars as a starting point we need to find some answers to questions such as:

1.Can space and other planets be made safe for human life?                                                                                                                        2. Is Mars and will or are, other planets a home to microbial life?

3.Can humans be Earth independant or are humans far too Earth reliant?

The 2030’s are bringing inspiring challenges for which we already have to make preparations. May humans have a pioneering spirit to pick up the challenges, explore and achieve.


DATE                        SUNRISE                           SUNSET               LENGTH OF DAY

07/04/2017                 06:19                               17:59                    11:39:42

12/04/2017                 06:22                               17:54                    11:32:19

19/04/2017                06:25                                17:47                    11:22:47

28/04/2017               06:30                                 17:40                    11:11:22

30/04/2017                06:31                                17:38                    11:07:29


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

Watch:     http://spaceweather.com/



DATE                     MOONRISE             MOONSET

03/04/2017               12:39                   23:46           LAST QTR.

11/04/2017              18:20                     06:19           FULL MOON

19/04/2017               0.00                     12:58            FIRST QTR.

26/04/2017              06:09                    17:59            NEW MOON

The APRIL lunar highlight: 


Bordering on the Mare Nectaris lies Theophilus – a deep crater with a central mountain having 4 summits rising 1400mt. above the crater floor.Theophilus is named after the 4th. Century Egyptian who was the twenty third Pope of Alexandria.

Sky Guide Africa South 2017



The most visible planets in the sky this month are:

Mars: seen fairly low in the western sky until June 6 when it will then go out of sight for some time.

Jupiter:is our very bright evening star. Brilliant in our night sky where it will stay until about October. It currently lies in the constellation Virgo and then eventually passes into Libra.

Venus:Is in the morning sky  where it will stay until June.

Mercury: is very low in the western sky and sets just after sunset until 8 April. Thereafter it will not be seen again until it is in the morning sky from 29 April until 7 June.

Saturn: Is visible in the morning sky from January until mid-June. Clear, easy and beautiful.

Uranus:For the month of April Uranus is not visible. It enjoys a time in the morning sky from end April until October when once again, it moves into the evening sky.

Neptune:Reappears in the morning sky and stays there until September.



In the NorthEast is the crouching Lion. Constellation Leo with its head looking like a sickle. The brightest star in Leo is Regulus.

In Leo can be seen M65, M66 M95 and M96.

NGC 5128 is a galaxy found in Centaurus while the jewel box NGC 4755 is very clear as the Southern Cross dominates our southern most skies.

NGC  3372, and Eta Carinae.

Then there is still the Orion nebula In constellation Orion now in the western sky. It will not be there for long as our winter skies approach.

Tuc 47 is located near the SMC. While Omega Centauri is the best globular in the entire sky Other globulars are NGC 3201 and NGC 2808.

Beautiful clusters IC 2602, NGC 2516 and NGC 3532 along with the Magellanic clouds and the Tarantula Nebula should keep one busy for all the clear night we have in the month of April.


Meteor       Duration                       Max. Date                   Observation Prospect 

Lyrids          April 16 -25                   April 22                         good. radiant is in Constellation Lyre.



41P/Tuttle at perihelion on 11 April with a peak magnitude of 3.

There is much to read if you visit this page:

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


Supermassive black holes exist at the centres of many galaxies and scientists are trying to find out how they got there.It has been proved that dense molecular gas discs occupying regions as large as a few light years at the centre of the galaxies, are supplying gas directly to the supermassive black holes.

Science’s current cosmology has the  possibility of being close to describing and explaining much of the reality of the universe we find ourselves within. it is a simple fact that if science has nothing to say about human beings, it will have little to say to most human beings.

read more about this in: www.science daily.com





By: John Colborne


It all started back in 2013 when I decided that I was old enough to stay out after dark, to check out my growing interest in stars and astronomy.

I grandly figured, taking the occasional “snap”, like those seen from Hubble, would be a great ego boost and a relaxing, evening past-time.

Ha! Little did I know that I was about to embark on a greatly rewarding activity. An activity that, at times, has the possibility to really test one’s sanity, while doing wonders with character building.


After researching and exploring various avenues, I came across the Telescope Shop, then situated in Edenvale. My visit to the shop was an ‘eyeopener’ and gave clarity to my understanding; after all that, my research was not in greater depth as required and thus, not worth much.

I packed away my grandiose thoughts and thankfully listened to advice as I was guided on the path to acquire decent equipment to follow my chosen path of astronomy and astrophotography.


I acquired: An Advanced VX mount and an 8inch GSO Ritchie-Chretien telescope.

A GSO Finder scope.

A reasonable selection of eyepieces, and a camera adapter for my Canon 450. Thus, I was setup for my great adventure into space!


Firstly, there was software that needed to be mastered if any sort of semi-focused clear shot was to be recorded.

After that, as astro-hobbyists are quick to learn, astrophotography entails dragging a few hundred weight of kit out of the house and setting up.

At last, after an arduous and time consuming task of focusing and aligning for the first time, the fun of taking a few photographs could start, only to discover that it is time to pack it all up again.

This went on for a few years, a severe damper on enthusiasm finally ending in a break of about 14 months.


Getting back into the hobby again, I spoiled myself with a few more goodies.

An iOptron CEM 60 EC mount.

A William Optics GT 102 scope, and some other kit.

Now there is more stuff to cart out and back into the house – What was I thinking, More and more, to carry in and out, does it ever stop?

Luckily for me, I reside on a reasonably large property together with my VERY understanding wife.

I happened to mention that an observatory would really enhance the activity. Immediately she saw the practicality of the idea and eagerly started planning where would be the best place to build one.

Sketches and designs were made and considered, budgets drawn up – ( Definition of a budget ? – “a number that is about 50% of requirement.”)


Eventually, I decided to modify an existing double carport by taking up a single bay, pulling the roof off it and building a double storey structure in its place to house a Knife Making Tool room downstairs (my other hobby) and the

Observatory above.

It would have a very light weight roll off–roll on roof, constructed of Aluminium framing and Polycarbonate multiwall sheeting.

The construction was to commence in September 2016 and be ready for first light activity before Christmas.

Ha!  Another definition: Completion Date: “a date that is about 3 months too early”.

By 26 September we were at ground floor stage.

Two weeks later, walls for both floors were up, plastered and a first coat of paint.

Top floor slab is a 150 mm RC lintel construction with 75 mm hand trowled topping.

Looking towards the stair opening, this opening is fitted with a hinged trapdoor, that remains closed when I am up there – thought it would be better than tumbling down 13 steel stairs in the dark.

Floor area 3 x 5 m with trapdoor closed. 3 x 4 with it open.

By 5 November the building Contractor had finished his part of the project, and it was now up to “yours truly” to just rustle up the roof in a few days.

By 10 November, sorting out the roof structure commenced. Trusses on a 5m radius were constructed from 25mm sq. aluminium tube.

The assembly ran on 10 steel wheels (5 to a side), the kind that are used for sliding gates; and finally, the structure was resplendent in its final coat of paint.


17 November – Polycarb roof sheeting in place, leaving the gable walls and a rail system for rolling on still to be done.


I was working on my own, with only one helper, mainly working over weekends. At this point, work was running well into 2017.

A Camping fridge in the corner and a Porta Potti in the other takes care of most needs.

The roof was insulated with 32 mm Isobord polystyrene. Temperatures before Isobord reaching over 40 deg C.


After the Isobord = 28 Deg C.

The rope across is the high-tech opening/closing mechanism.

A permanent pier is under construction, the prototype

leaning against the wall is a bit short and skinny.

The roof rolls very easily, and this is what it looks like in “operating” mode.


As with any project, it is never really finished.

  • Some red night light needs to be installed. Nice to have but not essential.
  • Mechanised roof roller.
  • Mechanised trapdoor or maybe just put a gas shock on.
  • Second monitor for computer.


28 March 2017:  First Light of “SkyCube” as it has been christened.

Only 3 months and a few days behind schedule.

Thanks to the involvement of Neil and Jess from Telescope Shop and their invaluable assistance, the system is up and running.


Test Images of M42, Eta Carina and Omega Centauri were done.

Below is the first available photograph.


M 42.

Canon 650 D

Exposure 30 Seconds @ ISO 800

PHD2 Guide.

No processing, other than to adjust the colour balance in Lightroom was done to this photo.

Not bad for a heavily light polluted site like Johannesburg.


Plenty of other exposures were taken, which I will process in DSS, Lightroom and Photoshop.

The 64000 dollar questions about the build?

  • Would I do it again – Yes, most definitely, but NOT as a double story.
  • What would I do differently — Make the floor area 3 x 6 – Hey! It’s never big enough.


Eventual Cost: About R50 k. A major share of the work was done by myself. If one was to factor in the labour value, the figure would be closer to R80 k.

Now I had better improve my Astrophotography to show the Finance Manager that it was money well spent.


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


Cathy Cope is our new librarian. Please call her to visit our library. We also have many CD’s at your disposal and Cathy will be only too pleased to be of assistance.

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 share.

“Have no fear of perfection you will never reach it.” Salvador Dali

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure”. General Colin Powell



Starlit skies to all,

Regards Wrac.


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