2006 ASSA Bloemfontein Centre Archives

Meetings and observation evenings during the year

18 February 2006, Saturday - Sky Guide Workshop and Friends of Boyden reserved evening - Boyden Observatory
Braam van Zyl presented a workshop in the use of the 2006 Sky Guide, for interested members of ASSA Bloemfontein and the Friends of Boyden. Attendees then watched a Hubble DVD in the Boyden Auditorium.

1 April 2006, Saturday - Observation evening and social - Boyden Observatory
First official meeting for ASSA Bloemfontein for the year. Members started arriving from 17h00 for a bring-en-braai. About 15 members attended, as well as new members (Thinus, Hannes en Thea van der Merwe). Mia Zeelie and Pieter Pieterse also brought their telescopes, which were displayed on the observation platform. After the bring-en-braai, members retired to the platform for some informal observations through the telescopes.

24 May 2006, Wednesday - Observation evening - Neels Raath's house
An open but foggy sky, preceded by cloudy weather prevented members from showing up at the observation evening. Gerrit Penning and Neels Raath practiced their skills at the green laser pointer and observed objects through Neels's 10 inch Orion reflector. Afterwards they philosophized about the deeper meaning of reality and the visible (or invisible?) Universe.

3 June 2006, Saturday - Quarterly Meeting, ASSA Bloemfontein Centre - Boyden Observatory
The quarterly meeting was preceded by a long Symposium organising committee meeting (Pat van Heerden, Phillip Coetzer, Braam van Zyl, Gerrit Penning) from 12h00 to 16h30. The theme for the ASSA Bloemfontein quarterly meeting was "Lunar observations", to be presented by Mia Zeelie. The lunar features were to be discussed as well as how to do observations. Unfortunately virtually no members showed up for the meeting and it was decided to cancel the meeting.

16 June 2006, Friday - Observation evening - Boyden Observatory
From 16h30 some members arrived at Boyden to help with cleaning the clubhouse. Telescopes were set up on the observation platform thereafter for the evenings informal observations. Telescopes attending: Mia Zeelie's self-made 8 inch dobs, James & Pieter Ross's self-made 9 inch dobs, Gerrit and Phillip's 8 inch Orion. The telescopes were mainly tested for performance and were pushed to the limit by Gerrit's over-eager and somewhat-out-of-place desire to see galaxies and planetary nebulas! James and Pieter's impressively long 9 inch was the envy of many onlookers. Hannes Calitz talked to members about some of the finer arts of telescope making, including baffles.

29 July 2006, Saturday - Annual General Meeting - Boyden Observatory
The AGM was held at Boyden Observatory. About 12 members attended. Thinus and Hannes van der Merwe brought their self-made 9 inch tube and made a quite a stir due to its unique and cost-effective design. The meeting took place at the braai area from 17h00 to 17h45. Various Centre business was discussed, including the ASSA Symposium, activities for the future on the club calendar and others. The chairman emphasized the fact that very little club events will take place in the next two months due to the Symposium's arrangements. The new committee for 2006/2007 was chosen and looked as follows:

Chairman: Gerrit Penning
Vice chairman and Treasurer: Phillip Coetzer
Secretary: Mia Zeelie
Additional members:
Jacques van Delft
Pat van Heerden
Hannes Pieterse
Council Rep: Chris de Coning
Die Naghemel newsletter: Gerrit Penning

After the meeting some members observed a few early-evening objects through the 13 inch Alvan Clark refractor and then went to the observation platform to appreciate the sunset and first stars, as well as Thinus and Hannes van der Merwe's 9 inch glass in a tube, ready for aluminizing. Some proceeded to enjoy coffee and refreshments generously provided by Mia Zeelie in the Science hall. After the refreshments the remaining members watched a video in the Boyden Auditorium that aired on the BBC's Horizon documentaries called "Global Dimming". The video conveyed some upsetting facts and images and a lively discussion ensued about the future state of our planet! Activities concluded at about 21h00.

15 September 2006 - Observation evening - Boyden Observatory
Members Herman Bonnet, Hannes Pieterse, Jacques van Delft, Thinus and Hannes van der Merwe and Gerrit Penning gathered on the observation platform at Boyden Observatory to enjoy some Spring deep sky objects until about 21h00. A nice relaxed evening behind the telescopes, the right kind of refreshments kindly sponsored by Hannes & Thinus, watching some faint little fuzzies quite some lightyears away.
Hannes and Thinus had their 9 inch self-made Dobsonian handy and Gerrit had an 8 inch Orion.

28 to 30 September 2006 - 7th ASSA Symposium
The Symposium was organised by ASSA Bloemfontein Centre in association with Boyden Observatory. An average of 68 people attended the event. The first 2 days took place at Boyden Observatory and the last day in the City of Bloemfontein. A full write-up with photos is available on the ASSA website's Symposium page at http://assa.saao.ac.za/html/symposium2006.html.

21 October 2006—Away weekend and observation evening, Koffiefontein

Georgie van der Walt orgainised some accommodation and observation space on a farm outside Koffiefontein. Mia, Gerrit, Hannes and Thea and Thinus van der Merwe, together with the new editor of Heartland magazine, Charles Cilliers, enjoyed a braai early evening and went to a dark spot on the farm to set up telescopes and appreciate the stunning Milky Way and deep sky objects from 21h00. From midnight until 3 am they observed the Orionid meteor shower and recorded their findings. They slept over at the farmhouse. The sky was exquisitely clear and dark. Charles wrote an article for the tourism magazine Heartland (Summer edition 2006) about the evening. Deep sky objects were appreciated through the telescopes, including some really faint galaxies!

11 November 2006 - Quarterly meeting at Boyden Observatory
The meeting started at 17h00, attended by Mia Zeelie, Hannes and Pieter Pieterse, James Ross, Thinus van der Merwe and Gerrit Penning. Club business was discussed, including the results of the committee meeting of 6 November. Gerrit proceeded to present a digital lecture on "The New Solar System": looking at planets, dwarf planets, SSSB's and other solar system concepts up to 18h00. Members then enjoyed a supper break on Boyden and set up telescopes on the platform. Mia had her self-made 8 inch there, Thinus his self-made 9 inch dobs and Hannes Pieterse tested a guidescope (4 inch). Informal observations of deep sky objects in Spring were made. The weather was good until about 21h00 went thin clouds started moving in.

Other activities during the year

11 March 2006, Saturday - Boyden Open Evening assisted by ASSA Bloemfontein
The Friends of Boyden held their Annual General Meeting at 17h00 in the Boyden Auditorium. 18h30: The Friends organised the year's first open evening at Boyden Observatory, assisted by members of ASSA Bloemfontein Centre. The theme for the evening was "Other solar systems and ours" (Ons en ander Sonnestelsels), presented by the Physics Department of the UFS (Dr. Matie Hoffman, Prof. Pieter Meintjies, Hannes Calitz). Despite of clouds and even rain, the evening was attended by over 120 members of the public. ASSA Bloemfontein also set up an "amateur astronomer's corner" in the Science Hall, which was a great attraction. It was manned by Jacques van Delft and Stewart McDonald.
After the open evening, some members got together for some talking in the Science Hall.

22 April 2006, Saturday - Beginner course in Amateur Astronomy
presented by ASSA Bloemfontein - Boyden Observatory.
Carrying on with the tradition of an astronomy course once a year (the first official course being in 2003), the club presented a beginners' course in night sky observations for its new members and for interested members of the public. The day was well-attended by virtually all new members (8), the public (7) and 3 existing members. It started at 14h30, presented by Gerrit Penning. A full program was followed, including theory, a tour of the Boyden facilities, night sky navigation exercises, telescope making (by Phillip Coetzer) and a break early evening. During the evening participants sat in during the Friends of Boyden's "light pollution lecture" (repeated on 28 July 2006) in the Boyden Auditorium (presented by Hannes Calitz), after which Gerrit gave an open sky show using Stellarium on the Auditorium's roof. They then went to the observation platform where Gerrit gave them a tour of the night sky and taught them how to use a planisphere and star chart as well as a binocular. Other members displayed telescopes, including Mia Zeelie's 8 inch. A successful day no-doubt.

6 May 2006, Saturday - ScopeX in Johannesburg
Gerrit Penning, Mia Zeelie, Hannes Pieterse (driving), honourary member Matie Hoffman (driving), Pat van Heerden and visitor "Eric" drove to Johannesburg to attend the annual Scope-X at the Military Museum. Member James Ross (Stanley & de Kock optometrists) also had a stall next to ASSA Bloemfontein's. The club had a stand where it exhibited the clubhouse's astronomy posters and handed out various pamphlets. The day saw clear skies. Dr. Hoffman gave a presentation to a Scope-X audience. The keynote speaker was Dr. David Malin from Australia talking about Astrophotography, with the emphasis on the Unsharp masking tool in modern software applications. Members talked to other national Centre members and discussed the 2006 Symposium. All except Gerrit and Matie returned late afternoon. The latter stayed behind to transport David to Bloemfontein the next day.

10 May 2006, Wednesday - Start of second Telescope Making project, at James Ross's shop - Mimosa Mall
After Scope-X a second telescope making project was launched. It was officially started on 10 May 2006. James Ross invited all telescope makers to Stanley & de Kock optometrists in Mimosa Mall where he demonstrated how to start with grinding your glas. It was well attended by 12 members and one non-member. Valuable information was obtained from James and Phillip Coetzer and the evening acted as great motivation to start.

20 May 2006, Saturday - Boyden Open Evening presented by ASSA Bloemfontein Centre - Boyden Observatory
The opening of 20 May, part of SET week, was presented by ASSA Bloemfontein. Unfortunately clouds prevented people from attending, although Gerrit Penning and Phillip Coetzer went ahead with showing their "Space Exploration" presentations to the people that were there (about 20).

24 June 2006, Saturday - Astronomy course presented to Kroonstad astronomy club - Kroonstad
During Scope-X 2006, Gerrit Penning talked to the Kroonstad Astronomy Club and offered to present a course in amateur astronomy, based on 22 April's. The course took place at Leonie Delport's house in Kroonstad and was presented by Gerrit Penning and Braam van Zyl. Laurisa van Zyl also attended. The afternoon consisted of a course in general theory and various multi-media presentations were given. During the evening the participants looked at objects through the telescopes and Gerrit gave them a tour of the night sky. Afterwards those that were left gathered in the living room and listed to the Kroonstad Entertainer singing, playing instruments and making jokes! Gerrit stayed over at the Delport's house and returned with Braam and Laurisa on the Sunday morning.

1 July 2006, Saturday - Astronomy day in Fascination Books, Mimosa Mall
ASSA Bloemfontein presented an astronomy open day in the shop of Fascination Books in Mimosa Mall. The program stared at 9h00. Gerrit Penning and Jacques van Delft were the presenters for the day. Short multi-media presentations were given starting at 10h00 and ending at 16h00. Dr. Matie Hoffman of Boyden Observatory were the keynote speaker with "Planets around other stars" at 14h00. The day was attended by about 80 members of the public altogether. New members joined the club and Friends of Boyden and good contacts for the club were obtained. Although not as many people attended the event as expected, it was nevertheless regarded as being of a high standard and had much value for those that attended.

12, 13 July 2006, Wednesday and Thursday - Astronomy shows for the public at the Arts Festival on campus
ASSA Bloemfontein joined hands with the National Museum in the city to add an astronomical theme to the Volksblad's Arts Festival, held on the campus of the University of the Free State. The club exhibited posters and an 8 inch Orion telescope in a custom-made glass case at the National Museum's stall. Gerrit Penning manned the astronomy part of the stall on 12 and 13 July from 15h00 to 17h00.
During the two evenings, members presented a star show for the public, in front of the southern entrance to the law faculty. Gerrit Penning gave short multi-media shows, compiled by Phillip Coetzer, taking the audience through a quick 12 minute tour of some of the sky's highlights. Members showed objects through their telescopes, including Neels Raath (Wednesday), James and Pieter Ross (Wed & Thu), Phillip Coetzer and Stewart McDonald (Wed & Thu), Gideon Steyl (Thu). Chris de Coning, visiting Bloemfontein from Cape Town, assisted the Wednesday evening. Braam and Laurisa van Zyl assisted the Thursday evening. Altogether an average of 45 people attended the shows per evening.

General events:

28 April 2006, Friday - Star show for a group at Bethulie, presented by Phillip Coetzer, Leslie Olivier and Shaun Twigge.
7 May 2006
, Sunday - Boyden open evening, international speaker Dr. David Malin from Australia.
7 June 2006
, Wednesday evening - Telescope Makers gathering, James Ross's shop - Mimosa Mall.
15 June 2006, Saturday afternoon - discussions with Chris de Coning on the ASSA Future Directions, attended by Gerrit Penning, Dawie van Jaarsveldt and Braam van Zyl in the Physics Building on campus.