Lacaille at the Cape of Good Hope

18th Oct 2018

Lacaille 8760Lacaille 8760 is the brightest red dwarf in Earth’s sky. Lying in the constellation Microscopium, this 6.69 magnitude red dwarf honours a truly remarkable French astronomer – Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762) – the man who literally lived and died for the stars… during his working life, he made more observations and calculations than all of his peers put together, and he died one week after his 49th birthday from the rigors he suffered observing the sky, or as Patrick

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Father Tachard’s Astronomy

11th Oct 2018

Modern astronomy in South Africa began with ships, or perhaps it would be more correct to say it began with shipwrecks. Indeed, early seafarers found the southern tip of Africa with its raging storms, gale force winds, colossal waves and deadly reefs, to be a frightening and treacherous corner of the Earth… and the coastline is littered with the wrecks of ships that met their violent end being smashed up onto a wild and alien shore.

Not

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N 57 – The Odd Couple

eso1335aIn 2013 ESO released this beautiful image of N57 in the Large Magellanic Cloud with the title “The Odd Couple”. And an intriguingly odd couple they certainly are as the one is a bubble blown by a single star, the other a superbubble blown by an entire OB association! The smaller shell – N57C – is a rare Wolf-Rayet Bubble, 95 x 95 light years in size, that was blown by the Wolf-Rayet star, Brey 48. The

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N158 – a Celestial Geode

ngc2081-ccI am a keen rock hound, and a geode is among the most beautiful objects one can find. Geodes are the mysterious treasure-boxes of the geological world. Undistinguished plain rock from the outside, they reveal a cavity in the middle filled with beautiful crystals when they are cut or broken open. The rough exterior of a geode gives no indication of the treasures held within its core – its composition is only discovered when it is cracked open.

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N144 – A Starry Superbubble

N144 imageSir Isaac Newton’s famous metaphor for how knowledge progresses, “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” is one of the most frequently used quotations in scientific enquiry, alluded to by researchers of all backgrounds who wish to acknowledge their own limitations when faced with the complexity of their subject. Because of the access we have to the discovery, observation, description and cataloguing of every glorious objects we see through our telescopes, I

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N206 – An Elegant Superbubble

NGC 206 DSS colourI can think of few things I enjoy more than peering into the Large Magellanic Cloud’s incredible collection of superbubbles. And I find that subsequent visits are even better as a superbubble appears even more beautiful and fascinating than the memories of it burned into one’s mind. Indeed, once you have been captivated by their mystery and their beauty and the sheer magnitude of what they are, these glorious places demand return trips. And there is always something

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