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25 JANUARY 2017 @ 19H00:

West Rand Astronomy Club Meeting

  • Dutch Reformed Church,
  • 844 Corlette Avenue, Witpoortjie
  • SUBJECT:    Astronomy and cosmology in famous ancient Egyptian, Mayan, European, Asian and African sites.
  • 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 28 JANUARY 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



Seasons Greetings and best wishes for wonderful starry nights the whole year through!



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.

19 JANUARY:     at Achterbergh –  Belieu Prep.  view the night skies.


Rare comet will be visible from Earth for first time: NASA

A rare comet discovered by NASA scientists will be visible using just binoculars to skywatchers on Earth this week for the first time, before the object heads back into outer reaches of the solar system for an orbit lasting thousands of years.

The comet, C/2016 U1 NEOWISE, “has a good chance of becoming visible through a good pair of binoculars, although we can’t be sure because a comet’s brightness is notoriously unpredictable,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US. As seen from the northern hemisphere during the first week of 2017, comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will be in the southeastern sky shortly before dawn.

It is moving farther south each day and it will reach its closest point to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, on January 14, before heading back out to the outer reaches of the solar system for an orbit lasting thousands of years.

While it will be visible to skywatchers at Earth, it is not considered a threat to our planet either. NASA’s NEOWISE mission has recently discovered some celestial objects travelling through our neighbourhood, including one on the blurry line between asteroid and comet.

An object called 2016 WF9 was detected by the NEOWISE project on November 27 last year. It is in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. At its farthest distance from the Sun, it approaches Jupiter’s orbit. Over the course of 4.9 Earth-years, it travels inward, passing under the main asteroid belt and the orbit of Mars until it swings just inside Earth’s own orbit. After that, it heads back toward the outer solar system.

Objects in these types of orbits have multiple possible origins; it might once have been a comet, or it could have strayed from a population of dark objects in the main asteroid belt. 2016 WF9 will approach Earth’s orbit on February 25 this year. At a distance of nearly 51 million kilometres from Earth, this pass will not bring it particularly close.

The trajectory of 2016 WF9 is well understood, and the object is not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future. A different object, discovered by NEOWISE a month earlier, is more clearly a comet, releasing dust as it nears the Sun. NEOWISE is the asteroid-and-comet-hunting portion of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

2016 WF9 is relatively large: roughly 0.5 to 1 kilometre across. It is also rather dark, reflecting only a few percent of the light that falls on its surface. This body resembles a comet in its reflectivity and orbit, but appears to lack the characteristic dust and gas cloud that defines a comet. “2016 WF9 could have cometary origins,” said Deputy Principal Investigator James Bauer at JPL.

“This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that linger on or just under its surface,” said Bauer.



The Summer Solstice took place on 22/23 December and now the sun is at perihelion on 4 January  at 16:17 in Johannesburg. The Southern Hemisphere will be closest to the sun at this time and the latest sunset is at 19:05 moving slowly backward to sunset at 19:00 in Gauteng at the end of January.

This is our time for fun and longer daylight hours wile the north snoozes snugly.


DATE                       SUNRISE                           SUNSET               LENGTH OF DAY

01/01/2017                 5:19                              19:04                             13:44:48

12/01/2017                5:22                               19:05                             13:44;22

15/01/2017                5:29                               19:05                             13:35:36

24/01/2017                5:36                                19:03                            13:26:37

31/01/2017                5:42                                19:00                            13:18:19

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

5/01/2017            11:51                                 –             first Quarter

12/01/2017           19:04                           05:15           full moon & the moon does not pass the meridian on this day

20/01/2017          00:29                            13:39            last Quarter

28/01/2017          05:55                            19;21            New Moon



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.

Mercury can already be seen in the early dawn hours

Jupiter and Saturn are already early morning pre-dawn planets and can be seen in the East from about 2am onwards.



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

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 

The Quarantids are the first meteor showers in the year. However, they are not visible for us here in the southern hemisphere.


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


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


Science is advancing rapidly. We are eradicating diseases, venturing further into space and discovering a growing zoo of subatomic particles. But cosmology – which is trying to understand the evolution of the entire universe using theories that work well to describe other systems – is struggling to answer many of its most fundamental questions.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-01-cosmology-crisis.html#jCp


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 you disposal and cthy will be only too pleased to be of assistance.

Charles Michael Schwab (February 18, 1862 – September 18, 1939) was an American steel magnate. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second largest steel maker in the United States, and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world.”

“When a man has put a limit on what he will do; he has put a limit on what he can do.” Charles M. Schwab.



Regards Wrac.


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