West Rand Astronomy Club

West Rand Astronomy Club


25 February 2015 @ 19H00:

West Rand Astronomy Club Meeting

  • Dutch Reformed Church,
  • 844 Corlette Avenue, Witpoortjie
  • Presentation By:  Tim Cooper
  • Topic: Asteroids and Comets
  • February Night Sky News and Events

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!

 14 February 2015 from Sundown:


171 Bartlett Street, Honingklip. (Not far from the Silver Casino).

  • Co ordinates: 26 01 12 S….27 47 93 E    -26.018810 , 27.798910
  • New members welcome. Bring own meat and salads, drinks (Please limit the alcohol), cutlery, crockery and a chair.
  • 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



NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft  will be the first man made probe to visit a dwarf planet, that is Ceres. Ceres is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt. An area which lies between Mars and Jupiter and is made up of irregularly shaped asteroids which Jupiter’s gravity prevented from forming a planet or planets. There are four large asteroids found there:Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and Hygea. Distanced far from each other. The origin of these pieces of rock is said to be left-overs from the dawn of the Solar System.

Spacecraft Dawn was sent up to investigate Vesta and Ceres. It reached Vesta in 2011 and stayed there for a year sending information back to NASA.

On 6 March 2015, Spacecraft Dawn will enter into orbit around Ceres to capture images and measure light variations. Ceres is thought to be an icy rock where water vapour has been detected and possibly has under surface oceans .



Sunrise and Sunset:

February 2015

Sunrise                 Sunset                Day Length

6 February 2015                5:46                       18:56                  13:10

15 February 2015              5:52                       18:50                   12:58

25 February 2015             5:59                       18:42                   12:43

• Never look at the sun without proper protection.

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

Moon in February:

In the Northern Hemisphere the American Indian named the February full moon as the ‘Hunger Moon’. The heaviest snows fell at this time of the year, making it very difficult to hunt. In the Southern Hemisphere this full moon is known as the last full moon of summer. Our agriculturists farmers and gardeners, make sure all underground seeds are planted prior to the cooling of the land due to cooler temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. This also brings dew which can affect observing astronomers as the overlap to autumn begins. Currently, this will arrive with the new moon on the 19th. of February.

  • Full Moon                             4 February       at 01:09
  • New moon                            19 February     at 01:47
  • Full Moon                             5 March            at 20:05

As seen from earth, Full Moon  on 5 March should be spectacular once again. It can be seen fully illuminated by the sun as it rises in the early evening. If the sky is clear it would be a good time for photography.


Planets in February:

Six planets, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,Uranus and Neptune are all visible from Earth this month. Mercury is visible in the early morning only while Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the evening and the morning.

  • Mercury: Is the planet nearest the sun and can only be seen low in the horizon, both in the west in the evening and in the east in the early morning.
  • Saturn:  On 13/14 February. One should be able to observe Saturn fairly well in the East.
  • Jupiter: On 6 February Jupiter will be at its closest approach to Earth. This will be the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons,  It will be visible even through a binocular. The moons will appear as bright dots on either side on the moon.
  •  Mars and Venus: Will be seen very close together in the western skies after sunset from about 7pm..

Juipter 17-01-2015 Lourie Bentel


 Deep-sky objects:

Globular clusters:                             Nebulae:                                      Galaxies:               Open Cluster:

NGC 1851 in Columba                             Eta Carinae NGC 3372                 NGC6744                  N2169 in Orion

Messier 79 in Lepus                                 B33 the HorseHead in Orion                                          Messier 41 in Canis Major

N2070  Tarantula inDorado                  Messier 35 in Gemini

M42 & M43 in Orion



 Meteor Showers:

Between the 28 January and the 22 March two meteor showers will take place but visibility or the observing prospect is quoted as being unfavourable to poor. This is probably due to insufficient light being produced on de-excitation and less ionic processes, so the meteor may not be observed visually.

a-Centaurids:      From 28 January to 21 February with a maximum  on the 7 February.

y-Normids:          From 25 February to 22 March with a maximum on the 13 March

Information from the Sky Guide South Africa 2015.



A special edition of the journal Science informs us that Rosetta’s Comet 67/P Churyumov. Gerasimenko has many surface features. Here are some of the details:

  • It is assumed that the overall composition is dominated by water, ice and dust.
  • The Rosetta scientists at the European Space Agency say the northern hemisphere of the comet is mostly dust and based on observations so far the comet has a very high porosity of about 70-80%.
  • The interior structure is likely to be made up of bonded ice/dust clumps in vacuus spaces.
  • There appears to be about nineteen regions covered by five basic but different types of ground areas.
  • Read more about this on www.Space.com


 Satellite movement:

Satellite movement can be viewed on:



Astronomers in Gauteng, it appears that we have had cloudy and starless nights this summer. But what of it? After all, it is summer  and the next season hot on the heels right now is autumn.Uhmm, the next excuse: too much dew.


Do not get depressed. Right now, the time is right for servicing, upgrading and preparing telescopes and camera equipment. Getting all our winter woolies like a beanie, scarf, socks,  gloves, thermal underwear and about two of everything! Winter is our star spangled season and we should be out there beating the cold and really enjoying the night skies

Einstein said: “there are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”  Definitely, the latter is the more important way to live.

Cheers and many a happy hour to all.

West Rand Astronomy Club

West Rand Astronomy Club

Regards Wrac.