27JULY 2016 @ 19H00:

West Rand Astronomy Club Meeting

  • Dutch Reformed Church,
  • 844 Corlette Avenue, Witpoortjie
  • Prof. Simon Connell
  • New Physics and Beyond

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!


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


All members with telescopes are invited to join us at Kloofendal Nature Reserve on Saturday 9 July for a wonderful evening of  walking with the stars and sharing our joy with the public.

Culembeeck Dutch Reformed Church,”LIVE IT”, will be selling boerewors rolls, hot coffee and milo.

Remember to bring plenty of warm clothes, something to sit on and a picnic basket if you so wish.


Anyone with a passion for the night skies, finds many happy hours under the stars, perhaps though, it is notable to commend all southerners who live in summer rainfall areas and brave the intensity of the cold winter nights, or travel far afield to get that perfect picture in clear dark skies.

However, one must not forget the great night beauties that backyard astrophotographers manage to capture. Hours they sit and wait in the cold of winter or patiently wait for cloud to pass in summer.The perserverance and diligence they show, is magnanimous, to eventually capture what they know is out there and worth sharing with like-minded enthusiasts.

In the southern hemisphere, Scorpious is our most magnificent winter constellation. Scorpious with three stars as its head. A long line of stars representing the body, a glowing red heart and a sinuous curving tail, it is not difficult to imagine a venomous creature. After all, Scorpious did sting the boastful mighty hunter Orion, in the heel, to cause his untimely death. The gods felt despair and placed Orion in the heavens, but, being just and fair gods they also placed Scorpious in the heavens, on the opposite side. Hence Orion is our most beautiful summer constellation while Scorpious fiercely graces our winter skies.

The star Antares,is the red heart of Scorpious. Antares is imposing just to look at through a telescope. It is 7500 times as luminous as our sun and has two companion stars which are fainter. On the south is Tau Scorpii , to the north, nearer Scorpious’s head is Sigma Scorpii or Alniyat. Both these stars easily compare in luminosity with Antares, but they are very much further away, by comparison and therefore  they appear to be a lot dimmer.

Antares: 330 light years away.

Tau Scorpii:  780 light years away.

Sigma Scorpii: 600 light years away.

Another point of interest, after moving along the line of stars to the tail, one finds two bright stars in its sting. These stars are Lambda or Shaula and Upsilon or Lesath. Lesath is the lesser bright one of the two but, once again, Lesath is much more luminous and almost six times further away from us.

Just below the curve of the tail, two Messier objects are to be found: M7 and M 6. M7 is known as Ptolemy’s cluster, first recorded by Ptolemy in 130AD and M6, the famous Butterfly cluster. Both are open clusters. M4 & M80,  both globular clusters, are found not far from Antares. Both are fuzzy bits easily observable as naked eye objects.

Without a doubt, Scorpious is one of the most magnificent constellations in the sky enriching both the Milky Way with its bright star clusters and the winter skies of the Southern Hemisphere.






There is a gravitational tug by Saturn on one of its moons. Enceladus. This “tug” is causing the warm water under the thin ice shell on Enceladus to go spewing into space. Ganymede, Europa and Titan,moons of Jupiter, also have underground oceans. Pluto now joins them but new evidence leads our scientists to believe that Enceladus’s ice shell is much thinner than once believed it was. It has now been found that the crust at the South Pole might be as little as 1.86 metres deep.

Where there is water there is life. Astro biologists already think that there is a possible chance of finding life on Enceladus, Now with Pluto in the same picture, there might be a chance of life on that dwarf planet as well. On planet Earth, we know life is dependant both on the sun and water. with Pluto on the outer edge of the solar system receiving so little sun. Could there be life on Pluto?

Another interesting factor  with regard to life on Earth. Our earth scientists have discovered sound coming from the deepest depths of our Ocean. So deep no light ever reaches there. So why the noise? Is it possible that there is life at those depths?


DATE                       SUNRISE                           SUNSET

04 JULY                      6:57                                  17:31

13 JULY                     6:56                                   17:35

22 JULY                     6;53                                   17:39

31 JULY                      6:48                                  17:43

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

Moon in JULY:

  • 04 JULY      –        New Moon             Rise 06:32          Set 17:44
  • 20 JULY      –        full Moon               Rise 18:16          Set 6:56

Planets in July:

Mercury and Venus: will be rising at dawn getting ready for a long haul through daylight hours.

Mars and Saturn:  are still brightly visible each night though not shining as intensely as in June. Keep observing them if not just for their spectacular beauty alone. Mars shines near Saturn and is visible from until after midnight. Saturn and Mars shine beautifully like twins in the sky but Mars is not nearly as dazzling as it was in May and June. Their rising and setting times are very close.

Jupiter: Still popping out in dark skies and still the brightest in the sky on July evenings. Jupiter is heading westward and is getting noticeably lower in the sky each evening.

At any time the five great planets are worthy of viewing in July


 Deep-sky objects:

This is probably a time to remember Messier. In the northern hemisphere their time is around the Spring equinox. if we apply the same rule then our Spring Equinox is coming up in September. Any Messier marathons coming up? Here are some to start with. There are supposed to be 110 Messier objects, but it is said that M102 is a duplication of M101

M4 – NGC 6121  ( Scorpious) M4 is the Milky Way’s Largest globular cluster, Omega Centauri, sparkling with ten million stars.

M1 – NGC 1952   ( Taurus) the Crab Nebula is 6500 light years from Earth. It really was a massive star that exploded as a supernova in AD 1054.. This one is not in our Southern skies in winter.

M44 -NGC 2632   ( Cancer)  The Beehive Cluster a wondrous cluster of stars, in constellation Cancer.

M8 – NGC 6523    (Sagittarius) The Lagoon Nebula

M6 – NGC 6405    (Scorpious) The Butterfly Cluster

M20 – NGC 6514  ( Sagittarius) Trifid Nebula

M104 – NGC 4594 ( Virgo) Sombrero Galaxy.

Take time this winter and try to make up your own list of Messier Objects that you have actually viewed and know where to find them in the sky.

In Constellation Perseus one can find the Double Cluster and it is said that there is nothing as magnificent as this anywhere in the sky.

Visit and record at your leisure as the Messier Objects progress through the sky. We have plenty of beautiful crystal clear nights to do it in.



 Meteor Showers:

Most important: A dark sky, is what is needed to observe meteors.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.

The Delta Aquarids can be seen from 15 July to 20 August. The maximum occurs around 6 August. The Delta Aquarids have no known parent comet. ZHR: 20

The Perseids begin around 23 July and max. around 11 August ending the shower about 20 August. the Swift-Tuttle comet is the Perseids parent comet. ZHR: 75

DID YOU KNOW?:  ZHR means Zenith Hourly Rate.  This is the number of meteors expected to be seen under ideal conditions. The observed rate is always much less because ‘ ideal conditions’ are never fulfilled.

Comet Halley, parent of 2 meteor showers




 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!

 Dress to beat the cold, keep warm and spend your nights under our star spangled, beautiful winter night skies!!

M35 m17

It is Winter but we can still have fun, gaze in awe and photograph in wonder: Enjoy!

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pain and troubles is: to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”

John Keats. Poet


Regards Wrac.


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