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22 FEBRUARY 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 25 FEBRUARY 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.

21 FEBRUARY:     at Achterbergh –  KINGS COLLEGE GR.7  view the night skies.


Scientists have been gathering information about our planetary neighbours for many years. Each year as technology expands and new inventions take place, man is able to search a little more and travel a little more in space.In so doing, scientists are gathering much information about our planetary neighbours. The task is a slow process because of the great distances the information has to travel from the spacecraft back to Earth. Once back here, the process gets slower and more involved  as accuracy in analysis is required. So, hats off to all those scientists who endeavour to bring us to a greater understanding of our Universe.

View larger. | Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft’s JunoCam on December 11, 2016. The craft acquired this shot of Jupiter’s northern latitudes, at an altitude of only 10,300 miles (16,600 km) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. It shows the giant storm on Jupiter known as the Little Red Spot (lower left). Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ SwRI/ MSSS/ Gerald Eichstaedt/ John Rogers.

The Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4, 2016 in a highly elliptical, 53-day orbit. It collects data primarily at its periodic perijoves, its closest points in orbit to the giant planet, every 53 days. The last perijove was December 11, 2016, and that’s when the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager collected the data to make the image above, which was released this week (January 25, 2017). The spacecraft had gone into a safe mode prior to the previous perijove, on October 19, 2016. During that safe mode, Juno’s instruments were turned off, and no data collection took place. So Juno scientists were no doubt relieved that seven of the spacecraft’s instruments and its JunoCam were operating normally during the December perijove. Much data was collected, which was then returned to Earth.

Juno’s next perijove – its next close Jupiter flyby – will be February 2, 2017.

NASA said of the image at the top of this page:

This view of the high north temperate latitudes fortuitously shows NN-LRS-1, a giant storm known as the Little Red Spot (lower left). This storm is the third largest anticyclonic reddish oval on the planet, which Earth-based observers have tracked for the last 23 years. An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon with large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure. They rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. The Little Red Spot shows very little color, just a pale brown smudge in the center.

The color is very similar to the surroundings, making it difficult to see as it blends in with the clouds nearby. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers processed the image and drafted the caption.



DATE                       SUNRISE                           SUNSET               LENGTH OF DAY

8/2/2017                    05:48                               18:56                    13:07:47

12/2/2017                  05:51                               18:53                    13:02:11

17/02/2017                05:54                               18:49                    12:54:57

24/02/2017                05:59                               18:43                    12:44:28

28/02/2017                06:01                                18:39                    12:38:22


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

An annular solar eclipse occurs on 26 February. Johannesburg has about a 40% chance of visibility, weather permitting.

Watch:     http://spaceweather.com/



DATE                     MOONRISE             MOONSET

08/02/2017             16:50                      03:00

11/02/2017              05:51                     18:53              Full Moon

18/02/2017              23:43                      12:20

26/02/2017              05:37                       18:41            New Moon


Begins: Sat, 11 Feb 2017, 00:34

During this penumbral lunar eclipse, the Earth’s main shadow does not cover the Moon. As the Earth’s shadow (umbra) misses the Moon during a penumbral lunar eclipse, there are no other locations on Earth where the Moon appears partially or totally eclipsed during this event. A penumbral lunar eclipse can be a bit hard to see as the shadowed part is only a little bit fainter than the rest of the Moon.  https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/south-africa/johannesburg


A nearly total lunar eclipse is seen as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth on the arrival of the winter solstice, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Arlington, VA. From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)



Viewing the last of Venus and Mars in the evening sky must be done as the sun goes down for these planets are sinking fast, disappearing soon and will soon become morning planets.

Jupiter and Saturn are already early morning hours planets and can be seen in the East.Jupiter is fairly high in the sky followed by Saturn.

Scientists have never before studied the size, temperature, composition and distribution of Saturn’s rings from Saturn orbit. Cassini has captured extraordinary ring-moon interactions, observed the lowest ring-temperature ever recorded at Saturn, discovered that the moon Enceladus is the source for Saturn’s E ring, and viewed the rings at equinox when sunlight strikes the rings edge-on, revealing never-before-seen ring features and details.

No other planet in our solar system has rings as splendid as Saturn’s. They are so expansive and bright that they were discovered as soon as humans began pointing telescopes at the night sky.

Galileo Galilei was the first person known to view the heavens through a telescope. He secured his status as an astronomical collosus when he discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons in 1610. Saturn is nearly twice as far from the sun as Jupiter, and yet Saturn’s rings are so big and brilliant that Galileo discovered them the same year he spotted Jupiter’s moons

READ MORE.https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/science/rings/.





There are many objects to view in our summer evenings but as we all know, in Gauteng our summer viewing is very weather dependent.

The Large Magellanic Cloud – The Sword in Constellation Dorado. Constellation Dorado has many nebulae to observe and photograph:

The Bean Nebula NGC 1760, The Tarantula Nebula, the Tulip nebula, the Dragons head nebula. N70 a supernova remnant  and HGC 1929.

The small Magellanic Cloud -M47 The Toucan in Constellation Tucana.

The Triangulam Galaxy in Constellation Triangulam Australis

NGC 55 The Sculptor in constellation Sculptor

NGC 6744  in Constellation Pavo


Meteor       Duration                       Max. Date                   Observation Prospect 

No recorded movement is visible for Johannesburg until April.


To read more visit:    http://www.space.com/16149-night-sky.html


January 31, 1958. This is the anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite. It was also the first satellite to carry a scientific experiment: a cosmic ray detector designed to take measurements of radiation in the space near Earth. Explorer 1’s data led to Van Allen’s hypothesis, later confirmed to be true, of the Van Allen radiation belts

Explorer 1 was tiny. It weighed just 30 pounds ( 14 kilograms) and was just under 7 feet long (203 cm). It took 114.8 minutes to complete one orbit of Earth, and therefore completed 12.54 orbits a day. Its impact was enormous and helped spur on what was to become an all-out space race..


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


Milky Way’s core could be spewing out planet-sized star chunks

By Leah Crane.

The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole could be chewing up stars and spitting chunks back out at us. If so, planet-sized bits of stars may be shooting away from black holes and hurtling across the universe at incredible speeds, according to results presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas, this week.

At the centre of the Milky Way lurks a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Once in about every 10,000 years, a star passes close enough to get caught by the black hole and spaghettified – stretched into a thin noodle by the powerful gravitational field.
That stretched-out matter does not end up exactly uniform, so clumps the size of planets coalesce under their own gravity. Those “planets”, with masses ranging from around that of Neptune to several times that of Jupiter, are then flung away from the central black hole at speeds up to 10,000 kilometres per second, simulations by James Guillochon at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Eden Girma at Harvard College suggest.
This should happen relatively often – by their calculations, one out of every thousand free-floating planet-sized bodies should be formed in this way. The closest one to Earth could be a few hundred light years away, and could have arrived from 50 million light years away.“Usually, from something that far away, we’re only getting light or maybe high-energy particles,” says Guillochon. “This is a way to transport entire worlds from one corner of the universe to the other.”
These chunks of spaghettified stars will have a distinctive composition: each one will be a sample of a different part of its parent star. It’s like dicing a tomato, says Guillochon – some chunks will be all peel and some will be all seeds.
Such objects are nearly impossible to detect visually because of their faintness and speed, and no one has seen one so far. We could hunt them down based on how their gravity bends the light of stars behind them, but it will be years before that is possible. Plus, there are several other ways to accelerate similar objects to high speeds, says Avi Loeb, also at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics although not involved in this research.But, Loeb says, this is still exciting work. “It provides us with the possibility of detecting a whole new population of objects that were otherwise unexpected.”


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.

“Perfection is over-rated. An idea does not have to be perfect. It just has to be implemented”. – Unknown



Regards Wrac.


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