Die Klerehanger (Coathanger)

deur Serena Ingamells
klerehangerWat kan lekkerder wees as om op die naat van jou rug na die sterre te lê en kyk behalwe miskien om onverwags jou eerste sterrebeeld (asterisma) raak te loop?

In die OOG-nuusbrief van November 2004 het Willie Koorts geskryf: Noudat die ergste winterwolke begin wyk en voordat die winter konstellasies ons verlaat is hier ‘n lekker raaisel om op te los en sommer die stof van verkykers af te skud. Die leidraad is: “Ek laat jou jas netjies pas, in jou kas! Wie is ek?

SterrekaartDie meegaande sterrekaart wys die Noord-Westelike uitsig vir die begin van November teen so 9:30 nm. wanneer dit na aan die horison is. Vroeër in die aand en vroeër in die jaar, sit dit hoër sit. Met die blote oog kyk Noord-Wes en soek Altair, die helderste ster in daardie rigting. Vergelyk wat jy sien met die sterrekaart en oriënteer jouself op Delphinius (die dolfyn) en Sagitta (die pyltjie). Gebruik nou jou verkyker en volg die blou lyn vir omtrent drie verkykervelde langs weerskante van Altair soos aangedui. Net as jy by Sagitta verbybeweeg sal jy die antwoord op die raaisel raaksien!

Aangespoor deur hierdie uitdaging het ek een onvergeetlike aand in die Pilanesberg Nasionale Park my soektog begin. Eers ‘n bietjie by Cygnus (die swan) met die interessante veelkeurige ster Alberio gekuier en toe opwaarts verby Deneb na Delphinus, Aquila en Altair. Van hier was Sagitta maklik om te vind en toe skielik verskyn die “Klerehanger” in my gesigsveld – ‘n klein juweel en die enigste asterisma wat ‘regop’ vir ons in die suidelik halfrond voorkom. Die Klerehanger (Collinder 399) staan ook bekend as ‘Brocchi’s cluster” maar dis nie ‘n ware swerm nie, bloot ‘n toevallige samekoms van sterre wat geen fisiese verbintenis met mekaar het nie. Dit bestaan uit 6 sterre wat die staaf vorm en 4 die hak en is vir die eerste keer in 964 deur die Persiese sterrekundige Al Sufi beskryf.

Magda Brits Streicher: Diva van sterrebeelde in Suid Afrika

Magda Brits Streicher:  Diva van sterrebeelde in Suid Afrika

Magda Brits Streicher, die Diva van sterrebeelde in Suid-Afrika (en miskien in die wêreld) wat reeds 109 op haar kerfstok het, gebruik die mooi woord “sterstring” om hierdie verskynsel te beskryf. In 2007 het sy geskryf: “My gedagtes rondom sterstring soektog is om ‘n verrassing te vind om elke draai en dit is so heerlik om so ‘n sterstring met karakter in woorde om te sit”. Vir menige jare het sy bydraes aan die OOG-nuusbrief gemaak. Hierdie sterstorie word met groot dank en lof aan Magda opgedra.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap081223.html

Fact vs Fiction

by Serena Ingamells
Sci-Fi booksI always thought one was either a sci-fi lover or not but over the last 50 years the border has become so blurred I believe most stargazers have at least one foot in the sci-fi camp.

Jules Verne started writing his stories in the 19th century and predicted that we would put three men on the Moon in a spaceship called Columbia – 104 years later NASA did just that – well more or less. Add the stories of Mark Twain, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark and you will find the key to much of what we see today: radar, the atomic bomb, the Internet, flat screen TV and the Ipad. For fun don’t omit to dip into Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. He was not only the inventor of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster but also said: “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws”.

In truth good science fiction is based on good science. Most of the writers have sound academic training which illuminates the way for the scientific community.

Watch “When Science Fiction becomes Science Fact” on PBS
http://www.pbs.org/video/2365687087/

Known as the ‘man who invented tomorrow’, H. G. Wells, a trained botanist, is generally regarded as the father of science fiction. In 1938 a radio adaptation by the Columbia Broadcasting System in the USA of “War of the Worlds”, depicting an invasion of Earth by Martians, was so realistic it caused widespread panic amongst the public.

Eventually Hollywood entered the arena and a whole new world opened for the enthusiast. Top of my list is “The Martian” which tells the story of an astronaut who is left stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead. With basic science one can follow the story without much trouble (…. may his rest be calm and placid he added water to the acid etc, etc). Together with “Gravity”, “The Europa Report” and “Interstellar” you have grand viewing during the cold winter months.

For added reading pleasure:

“Contact” (Simon & Schuster 1985) by Carl Sagan

“Leviathan Wakes” (Orbit, 2011) and the other books in “The Expanse” series by James S.A. Corey

“Aurora” (Orbit, 2015) by Kim Stanley Robinson

“The Martian Chronicles” (Doubleday, 1951) by Ray Bradbury

“Dune” (Chilton books, 1965) by Frank Herbert