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SkyGuide 2005

Astronomical Handbook for Southern Africa

Sky Guide Africa South is an invaluable practical resource for anyone who has even a passing interest in the night skies of southern Africa.

Prepared by the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa as a reference work for the novice, amateur and professional astronomer,it presents a wealth of information about the Sun, Moon, planets, comets, meteors and bright stars in a clear and accessible way, accompanied by a number of diagrams to support the text.

Here you will find 126 pages of information for the year 2005 about the movement of the planets, about the occurrences of eclipses, the appearances of comets, the dates of meteor showers as well as clearly presented star charts to aid in identifying bright stars and constellations in the night skies of southern Africa.


The SkyGuide continues the tradition of the well-established Astronomical Handbook for Southern Africa. This is its 59th year of publication.

What's inside, and what's new?

The Table of Contents is shown below.

The Guide is divided into a number of sections most of which will be familiar to users of other handbooks. Each section is identified by a symbol.

The first section is the monthly sky diary, giving a summary of events for each month, such as phenomena relating to the Sun, Moon, planets, comets and meteor showers.
  Predictions for rise and set times of the Sun and Moon are given for five centres: Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Durban and Harare.
  The apparent positions of the naked-eye planets at regular intervals throughout the month are tabulated. The orbits of the readily observable moons of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are illustrated, as are the orbits of the inner planets. Times when Venus is near the Moon during the day, and may therefore be seen with the naked eye, are listed. Dates when Jupiter's moon, Callisto, is at maximum separation from the planet are given.
  Easy-to-use sky maps illustrate interesting events each month. The dates and days of the week are displayed along the top of the page, along with a base Julian Date number, to which the day of the month can be added to obtain the actual Julian Date. The monthly sky diary pages can be used as hand-outs for public outreach activities, or placed on classroom and education centre noticeboards.


How to get yours

ASSA Business Manager
Mr Cliff Turk,
   PO Box 9, Observatory, 7935
   e-mail []
   tel. (021) 531-5250 

ASSA Centres nationwide
Cape Town
Garden Route
Natal Midlands

Book shops
  Various shops, including Exclusive Books & Wordsworth, sell the Sky Guide.

  Johannesburg Planetarium
   e-mail []
   tel. (011) 717-1392
  Iziko: Planetarium (Cape Town)
   tel. (021) 481-3900

Free download

The 2005 January "Diary of Events" can be downloaded as a high-resolution PDF file for viewing or printing.

The graph of times of rising and setting of the Sun, planets and selected bright stars has been enhanced by the addition of an extensive table of corrections for places throughout Southern Africa. Several tables of solar system data were added to this edition: discovery of planetary satellites, the Cassini space craft mission to Saturn, and physical & orbital data for the planets.

The sections dealing with comets and double stars have been expanded. The Directors of these Observing Sections have prepared introductory observing guides to these fields of study.

First-time star gazers may find the simple star charts on page 92 useful for identifying the brightest stars and constellations. A circumpolar chart, with simple orientation instructions, is on page 93.

The final section contains a list of useful websites and a glossary, defining commonly used terminology.

The South African Astronomical Observatory has a special four-page supplement describing its activities and highlighting SALT, the Southern African Large Telescope, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2005.


With book prices typically in the three-digits, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the 2005 SkyGuide sells for only R50!

How to get your copy

Available mid-November 2004! Avoid disappointment and place an order now -- the 2004 SkyGuide was sold out in record time.

If you are a book seller, enquire from our Business Manager about the special discounts available to bookshops. Placing a bulk order early will avoid disappoinment! The ISSN Number for the SkyGuide is 0571-7191 is and the barcode no. is 9 770571 719021.

Contact the ASSA Business Manager, PO Box 9, Observatory, 7935 e-mail  [] to secure your copies.

What others have said...

"Whether you are a never-looked-up-at-the-night-sky novice or experienced professional, this Guide is packed with everything you need to know. Dont go out in the dark without one!"
-- Prof. TONY FAIRALL, Astronomy Dept., UCT and Iziko Planetarium

"A valuable resource for anyone needing information about astronomy, be they professional astronomers, dedicated amateurs, casual skygazers or concerned teachers.I keep a copy next to my telephone so I have quick access to all the necessary information I need to answer queries."
-- Prof. DERCK P. SMITS, Dept. Maths, Applied Maths & Astronomy, UNISA

About the cover photo

This deepfield image by Robert Gendler of a 3° by 4° area in Orion includes at bottom right, Zeta Orionis (Alnitak), the westernmost star in Orion's belt, and close to it NGC 2024, the Flame Nebula, as well as the elusive Horsehead Nebula. At the top right is the Great Nebula in Orion (M42) which is at the centre of the' Sword of Orion'. The image is a mosaic assembled from over 20 hours of exposures, using three different telescopes. Further details and more images at []  The image is © Robert Gendler 2004 and is reproduced with permission.


Table of contents

Preface & Using the Guide
Monthly sky diary
The Sun
  Observing the Sun
  Solar telescopes in South Africa
The Moon
  Observing the Moon
  Lunar occultations
  Grazing occultations
  Crescent visibility after New Moon
The Planets
  Motion of the planets
  Planetary occultations
  Rise and set times
Minor Planets
  Meteor showers
  Double stars
  Variable stars
Basic observing skills
  Limiting magnitude charts
Star charts
  Finding the brightest stars
  Circumpolar stars
  Summer stars
  The Orion region
  Autumn stars
  The Crux region
  Winter stars
  The Sagittarius-Scorpius region
  Spring stars
  The Cetus-Sculptor region
Astronomy in Southern Africa
  A heritage to be proud of
  Contemporary astronomy in SA
The South African Astronomical
Host to SALT
The Astronomical Society
of Southern Africa
  ASSA Scholarship
  Officers and Award Recipients
  Useful websites



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