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On Monday 21st of January 2019 in the morning there was a beautiful sight in the sky – A Lunar Eclipse. CWBR reached out to its extended family to see if anyone captured the moment and received some fantastic photos which were taken just outside of Riebeeck West in direction of Moreesburg. The eclipse started at 5h43 and the moon disappeared behind the horizon at about 6h00. Don’t worry if you missed it there will be another one later this year in July.

The below is on behalf of the Astronomical Society of South Africa -

"Two lunar eclipses occur during 2019. The first is a total lunar eclipse on January 21st and is visible from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas, most of Oceania and easternmost Russia. From southern Africa the event is marginal, as the Moon sets around the time the eclipse begins at 04:35, mid-eclipse is at 07:12.

A lunar eclipse is visible from anywhere on Earth where the Moon is in the sky at the time (unlike solar eclipses, which are only visible from within a much narrower path. In a calendar year between four and seven eclipses (solar and lunar combined) can occur; at least two, and at most five, can be lunar eclipses. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, becoming dim until emerging from the shadow. The Earth's shadow consists of two parts – the dark inner umbra and the lighter outer penumbra.

If the Moon's orbit coincided with the ecliptic, there would be a lunar eclipse every Full Moon, but because of the changing orientation of the orbit, lunar eclipses occur only infrequently. Total lunar eclipses last for up to 100 minutes but do not require eye protection (unlike solar eclipses).

The second lunar eclipse is a partial one on July 16/17 and can be seen from Australasia, Asia (except in the north & east), Africa, Europe (except northernmost Scandinavia) and most of South America. From southern Africa, the Moon will be well-placed throughout the duration of the eclipse. Mid-eclipse is at 23:30 and the umbral magnitude is 0.658"

Astronomy will be a new component to the 2019 FGASA and Life Skills course. At the end of December, a two-day Night Sky course to equip mentors for the upcoming course in March 2019 took place at De Hoop nature Reserve.

WC FGASA Meeting 2018 Recap

A big thank you to everyone who attended the WC FGASA meeting this December!

It was an exceptional meeting hosted at the Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town with a continued group of speakers who have a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and love for what they do. Thank you to Danial Cunnama for making this meeting extra special.

The Programme

Arrie Combrink from National Sea Rescue Institute. Author and trail mapmaker Peter Slingsby. Biologist, researcher, and author George Branch and his wife Margo, marine scientist and author. The Guide of the Year Award was presented to the winners, with a special mention for Cameron McMaster. The meeting drew to a close with a tour of the premises and Astronomical museum by outreach astronomer Doctor Daniel Cunnama.

The Talks

Arrie spoke about breadth of work that NSRI are involved in and showed a video of the volunteers, who give of their time 24/7/365 days a year, training at sea. It became apparent that NSRI in Stillbaai are one big family, who work hard and give of themselves and their time completely to the community. To the motto in their work is communication, knowledge of the vessels capabilities, knowledge of the sea, and continuous practice in what they do. The volunteers at NRI are truly one of a kind.

Peter Slingsby then took the floor to talk about Ants of South Africa, and particularly his new book: Ants of South Africa The Ant Book for All. It became clear how incredible these little creatures are, and how dissimilar they are from termites, a mistake often made. They cover 10 – 15 % terrestrial animal biomass, there are over 20 000 species known worldwide, and they share at least 49 % of their DNA with you! Ants are excellent indicators of the natural environment’s health. There were also some very surprising facts, for example, ants don’t have lungs!

George and Margo Branch spoke about what they both love: the abundant life in the shores of South Africa. And the new edition of their book Living Shores. South Africa is the only place in the world with such large diversity along the shores, in the water and on land, due to two very different currents – Agulhas and   Benguela. Margo emphasized the importance of safety when exploring the rocky shores. Always have a designated spotter to keep a look out for big waves crashing into the shore. 

 Images: George Branch at the Western Cape FGASA meeting, tour of the Observatory premises, and the Winners and nominees for different categories of Guide of the Year Award. 



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