2004 - ASSA Bloemfontein Centre

ASSA Bloemfontein event summaries for 2004:

Meetings during the year

January 31, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 19:00
The first Quarterly meeting of the club for the year was preceded by a bring-and-braai at 16:30 for those members interested. It was followed at 19:00 by the meeting in the kitchen hall of the main building, where administrative matters were discussed and lectures were presented to members by Gerrit Penning on Basic Relativity, Ernie Halberg on the Mars Rovers, Dr. Matie Hoffman on Boyden and a summary of his American visit overseas. Ernie also informed members of the latest arrangement for the Sutherland tour of March 2004. Braam van Zyl informed members of the new Sky Guide handbook of ASSA. It was attended by over 30 people. It was decided after this meeting that future meeting will have to be more exclusive for club members and will have to deal more with Amateur Astronomy and that persons from the public must make an appointment before attending the club meetings.

May 22, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 19:00
Quarterly meeting. The agenda consisted of a talk by member Phillip Coetzer on telescope making, which also encouraged members to take part in the club's telescope making project. Braam van Zyl discussed the Venus transit and how the Centre would participate with other clubs around the world and with Boyden Observatory on 8 June 2004. Informal astronomy discussions were held and afterwards informal observations
outside the main building at Boyden. Members were also alerted to increased meteor activity in the sky and fireballs were also reported by some members present.

July 31, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 19:00 - AGM
Administrative and club matters were discussed during the AGM and the Chairman’s report for 2003/2004 was read. The new committee for 2004/2005 was chosen. The new committee consisted of:
Chairman: Gerrit Penning
Vice-chairman: Juan-Marié Bower
Treasurer: Phillip Coetzer
Secretary: Mia Zeelie
Additional members:
Warren Akerman, Werner Coetzee, Alfred Jenkinson, Jacques van Delftz
Council Rep: Chris de Coning

Juan-Marié Bower gave members a talk on Astrobiology afterwards.

October 9, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 19:00
Quarterly meeting. The agenda consisted of various administrative points. A lecture titled "Hyperspace" was presented by members Mia Zeelie and Werner Coetzee. The consept was well explained and gave off an interesting discussion. Afterwards, members were taken to the new Clubhouse of the Centre situated near the Observation platform on Boyden. Members Hannes and Pieter Pieterse and Neels Raath displayed their telescopes and deep sky objects were observed, including the venerable Andromeda galaxy.

November 27, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 17:30
The social year-end function took place at Boyden and 9 members were present.
It consisted of a bring-and-braai, discussions on the Auditorium while watching the sunset and a relaxed atmosphere during the meal.

Practical sessions and other activities during the year

January 17, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 17:00
About 10 members attended a small workshop where they made their own planispheres, from a template designed by the Friends of Boyden. No observations could take place due to cloudy weather. Some members stayed behind and talked until the evening.

February 11, 2004, Paul Kruger Ave 190, City, 19:00
Introduction of the Deep Sky observation programme for the year. Attended by almost 15 members at Gerrit Penning's house. Gerrit explained how the Deep Sky observations will be structured during the year, by using pre-compiled observation log sheets with Deep Sky objects of the Messier and Dunlop I catalogues. Basic observation tips were also discussed, and the use of optical instrumentation for the year, which will consist mostly of binoculars. Unfortunately cloudy weather prevented any observations. Many members nevertheless stayed until 21:00.

February 28, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 15:00 and 17:00
Amateur Astronomy Day course for beginners and advanced members at Boyden. A tremendously successful day where new members were taught
the basics of amateur astronomy. Two sessions were held:
15:00 -17:00 - beginners
17:00 - beginners and advanced members
During the evening Braam van Zyl gave a step-by-step course on the Sky Guide 2004 for all members. It was followed by introductory lectures and then observations on the observation platform at Boyden, where Alfred Jenkinson and Warren Akerman also enchanted us with their astrophotography!
Special material was prepared for the day.

March 19-22, 2004, Sutherland Tour (ASSA BFN & Friends of Boyden)
A memorable 4 day tour was undertaken by 19 persons which included 5 European students. The tour took place as follows:
- 19 March 2004: Depart from Physical Building, UFS, 11:00. Lunch at the Vanderkloof dam. Arrival at the town of Williston in the evening where a traditional Karoo dinner was served by a caterer. Some tour members watched the exquisite Karoo sky from the rugbyfield later at night.
- 20 March 2004: Depart from Williston in the morning, arrival at the town of Sutherland late morning. Visit to the SAAO Observation facilities early afternoon. A video of the facility's history was shown, a tour of the science exhibition centre was undertaken, and a visit to the 20 inch telescope took place as well as the SALT 10 m telescope. In the evening a braai was held, at the hostel where the tour members slept.
- 21 March 2004: Depart from Sutherland in the morning, lunch in the town of Laingsburg. Arrival at the Klein Karoo National Park in the afternoon. A game ride was undertaken. Camp was set up and dinner (braai) was served at the chalets.
- 22 March 2004: Depart from KKNP in the morning. Lunch at the 1-stop station at Colesberg. Arrival in Bloemfontein late afternoon.

April 17, 2004, Boyden Observatory, Solar and Comet day, 15:00/19:00
A Solar day was organized in order to expose members to the solar activities of the Centre. The workshop included a visit to the solar telescope and a lecture by member Jacques van Delft on sunspot counts.
In the evening more members arrived and Brian Fraser from ASSA JHB gave the Centre a talk on occultations and how to measure this phenomena. It ws followed by a talk by Jacques van Delft on solar observations. The comets in the sky was observed afterwards through the 13 inch Boyden refractor.

April 24, 2004, War Museum Johannesburg (Scope-X), day-event
12 members from our Centre made the one-day journey to the Scope-X event organized by ASSA JHB, filled with presentations, self-made telescope exhibitions, telescope making demonstrations and much more. It was also seen as the starting point for our own Centre’s telescope making endeavours, which took off in June 2004. A lecture (“Zoom Journey to the Stars”) was also presented by Gerrit Penning in his Boyden-presenter capacity during the morning. It was an inspiring day and members came back loaded with new ideas and enthusiasm.

May 4, 2004, Paul Kruger Ave 190, Universitas, BFN - Total Lunar Eclipse
3 members took recordings of the total lunar eclipse in the evening. The useable data subsequently appeared in MNASSA. Various other members took photos of the event. Member Jacques van Delft had his sequence photo placed on the international astronomy website SpaceWeather.com and a request from the BBC was received for the use thereof.

June 8, 2004, Boyden Observatory, 7h00, The Venus Transit of 2004
The Centre participated with national ASSA, other astronomy clubs around the world as well as with Boyden Observatory to observe and measure the historic Transit of Venus. Members already arrived early morning and set up positions on the observation platform. The 20 cm Coelostat at Boyden was also manned by amateurs and Boyden personnel. Various members took photos throughout the morning and member Jacques van Delft took official measurements. Amateurs also assisted in the public programme ran by Boyden. Many members stayed up to the end of the transit and others stayed at Boyden for conversation on this very memorable event.

June 30, 2004, Paul Kruger Ave 190, Universitas, BFN - telescope makers' initiation
The Centre was privileged to have a visit from Mr. Jack van Ellickhuyzen, a founder-member of our Centre and previous Chairman. He started building telescopes at age 16 and was willing to give the telescope making members a briefing on how to begin. Under the auspices of member Phillip Coetzer, the Centre started with an active telescope making group after many years of inactivity. At that stage, some members ahd already started grinding and polishing their 8 inch reflecting mirrors.

November 19-20, 2004, Mabula Game Lodge, Eastern Free State
Six members of the club and 6 friends/family members went to the eastern Free State for an evening out. The goal was to observe some last Leonid meteors, but clouds intervened. The evening was nevertheless very pleasant and relaxing.

Other events:
In addition to the many Friends of Boyden evenings where members of the Centre were also present, mention must be made of 5 October 2004 when the Boyden Celebration took place (to celebrate the developments at Boyden). Amateurs provided help and assistance. The clubhouse was also used for the first time where members of the public was briefly informed about the activities of the Centre.