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29 MARCH 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 MARCH 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.





An international team of astronomers, led by Nicolas Laporte of University College London, have used ALMA (which stands for Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) to observe A2744_YD4,

Astronomers observed a young galaxy, existing when the universe was only 4% of its current age. It had a mass of interstellar dust, formed during explosions of an earlier generation of stars.

One of ALMA’s aims is to spot some of the most distant and ancient galaxies ever seen, and now it has detected its youngest galaxy yet, seen when the universe was only four percent of its present age. The galaxy appears to us as it was when the universe was only 600 million years old, during the period when the first stars and galaxies were forming. This young galaxy already contains a huge mass of glowing stardust, left behind by the birth and explosive deaths of these very first stars.These astronomers said they were surprised to see the stardust, in such a distant and young galaxy. Furthermore,this observation is also the most distant detection of oxygen in the universe.

Nicolas Laporte commented in a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), one of ALMA’s partner organizations along with astronomy groups in the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile:Not only is A2744_YD4 the most distant galaxy yet observed by ALMA, but the detection of so much dust indicates early supernovae must have already polluted this galaxy.

By the way, when he uses the word polluted,  he means it in the best possible sense. As massive stars form and later explode, they seed interstellar space with their stardust and with the heavier elements made inside stars. The explosions spread the heavier elements – like carbon, iron and oxygen – into space, making them available for future generations of stars, and for planets like Earth.

Thus the Earth we live on, and our very bodies – the carbon in our bones, the iron in our blood, the oyxgen in the air we breathe – all these elements were forged inside stars and later released to space.

This recent ALMA discovery shows the process that led to your reading the words on this page, began for all of us in the very, very early universe. read more……

. http://earthsky.org/space/alma-stardust-a2744_yd4-1st-stars?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=9ab52654a9-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-9ab52654a9-394486409&mc_cid=9ab52654a9&mc_eid=c148988919


DATE                       SUNRISE                           SUNSET               LENGTH OF DAY

1/3/2017                    06:02                               18:42                    12:40:00

10/32017                  06:07                               18:33                    12:26:00

19/03/2017                06:11                               18:23                    12:12:00

25/03/2017                06:14                              18:17                    12:03:00

31/03/2017                06:17                                18:10                    12:07:00


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

The Autumn Equinox takes place this month over 20/21 March. Our days are getting shorter and our nights, longer and colder. This means clear night skies. Something we in Gauteng are so looking forward to. Having said that, the summer rains we have had have been most welcome and greatly appreciated.

Scientists working at the Solar Dynamics Observatory have spotted a massive solar filament that stretches across a good portion of the sun’s visible surface. It’s about 533,000 miles long (857,780 km) – equivalent to 67 Earths lined up in a row.

NASA says this solar filament — one of the longest ever recorded — is an enormous line of colder material that’s hovering in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. According to APOD, the scar is actually hot gas held aloft by the Sun’s magnetic field; if viewed from the side it would appear as a raised prominence:



Watch:     http://spaceweather.com/



DATE                     MOONRISE             MOONSET

01/03/2017             08:39                      20:47

11/03/2017              17:53                     04:48

18/03/2017             22:19                      11:01

25/03/2017              03:20                     16:31

31/03/2017              09:36                     21:00

SA Sky Guide 2017: The March lunar highlight :Mare Nectaris

Located eastward of the centre of the moon it is 3.8 billion years old and best viewed  5 days after new moon or 4 days after full moon.

Read more about it : https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/…/lroc-20100129-pyrenaeus.html.




The most visible planets in the sky this month are:Venus and Mars: seen fairly low in the western sky but not for long. Venus: until mid March and then joins the morning sky  where it will stay until June. Until June,Mars: is visible in the evening sky. Mars has a distinct rusty red colour that is because its soil is made up of iron oxide, plainly named – rust.

Mercury: can be seen in the evening sky from mid-March to mid-April, very low in the west, just after sunset.

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

Uranus: can be seen in the evening sky until late March.

Neptune: reaches conjunction on March 02 and reappears in the morning sky in the second half of March.


About mid march Taurus is near to setting in the west and this is the last chance to view the Pleiades and the constellation of Auriga with a nice bright Capella.

In the NorthEast is the crouching Lion Leo constellation with its head looking like a sickle. The brightest star there 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 soutrhen most skies.

NGC  3372 surrounds Eta Carinae.

Then there is still the Orion nebula In constellation Orion now high in the north, north western sky

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 March.


Meteor       Duration                       Max. Date                   Observation Prospect 

No recorded movement is visible for Johannesburg until April.



2P/Encke: In the Southern Hemisphere, it will appear in the morning sky in late March at 8 mag, then it stays observable while the comet will be fading. COMETS:
C/ 2015v2 (JOHNSON): In the Southern Hemisphere, it stays extremely low for a while.

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


Rare mid-weight black hole found at heart of bright star cluster

By Ken Croswell

We’ve caught another glimpse of a shy cosmic monster. Middle-weight black holes are elusive, but our best evidence of one so far comes from inside one of the Milky Way’s brightest star clusters – and its existence suggests similar objects may have seeded the supermassive black holes occupying the centres of giant galaxies.

Black holes come in two main weight classes. Stellar-mass black holes form when a large star collapses, and are roughly ten times the mass of the sun. In contrast, supermassive black holes, such as Sagittarius A* at the Milky Way’s centre, typically have millions or billions of solar masses.

read more:https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120775-rare-mid-weight-black-hole-found-at-heart-of-bright-star-cluster/

Globular cluster 47 Tucanae

Globular cluster 47 Tucanae – A medium-sized monster lurks in its midstNASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration/J. Mack (STScI) and G. Piotto (University of Padova, Italy)


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.

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties” – Erich Fromm

Let us open and stretch our thoughts and minds, remove bias and limited understanding. If we accept there was a big explosion at the start of it all, we can use mathematics and physics with great accuracy, to come to some sort of conclusion, as to what happened in the intervening years.



Regards Wrac.


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