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SkyGuide 2006

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 120 pages of information for the year 2006 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 60th year of publication.

What's inside, and what's new?

The Table of Contents is shown in the column on the right.

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.
  By popular demand, the "deep-time" graph, showing Moonless nights, is back. This is an easy-to-use aid in planning your observing sessions.
  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. 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, Fascination & Wordsworth, sell the Sky Guide.

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


Free downloads

Lunar Calendar 2006
Sky Highlights for 2006


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 pages 76-81 useful for identifying the brightest stars, constellations and deep-sky objects.

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

A 2006 lunar calendar, showing the phase of the Moon for each day of the year, is given on page 113. This lunar calendar can also be downloaded for free in various formats, suitable for high-quality printing. Also look out for the free download of a "Best of 2006" colour poster, showing the highlights for the year.


With book prices typically in the three-digits, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the 2006 SkyGuide sells for only R50!

How to get your copy

Available mid-November 2005! Avoid disappointment and place an order now.

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 and the barcode no. is 9 770571 719038.

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 photos

Front Cover: The Great Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. Also known as M31 and NGC 224, it is 2.2 million light years (21 billion billion kilometres) away from Earth, and is visible from Southern Africa with binoculars or even the naked eye above the northern horizon in mid-summer. Also appearing in the photograph are the elliptical galaxies M110 (bottom left) and M32 (the large 'fuzzy' circular object close to M31). The 2.5° by 1.8° image is by Robert Gendler, and is a digitally processed mosaic of 40 separate images, using two different telescopes and with a total exposure time of 50 hours. The image is © Robert Gendler 2003 and is reproduced with permission.

Back cover: Saturn. The largest, most detailed, global natural colour view of Saturn and its rings ever made was assembled from 126 images taken by the spacecraft Cassini over a two hour period on 2004 October 06, while Cassini was 6.3 million kilometres from Saturn. Many of Saturn's splendid features are visible in this one detailed, all-encompassing view: subtle colour variations across the rings, the thread-like F ring, ring shadows cast against the blue northern hemisphere, the planet's shadow making its way across the rings to the left, and blue-grey storms in Saturn's southern hemisphere to the right. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.





Table of contents

Using the SkyGuide
Must-see events for 2006

Monthly sky diary (pp 2 - 49)

Sun (pp 50 - 53)
Observing the Sun

Moon (pp 54 - 59)
Lunar occultations
Ramadan and Shawwal
Moon maps

Planets (pp 60 - 69)
Planetary occultations
Close planetary pairings
Rise-set times

Minor planets (pp 70 - 71)
Close approaches during 2006
Minor planet occultations

Comets (pp 72 - 73)
Observing comets

Meteors (pp 74 - 75)
Meteor showers
Meteorites & craters

Stars (pp 76 - 81)
Double stars
Variable stars

Deep-sky observing (pp 82 - 83)
Discover! workbook

Basic observing skills (pp 84 - 87)
Light pollution

Star charts (pp 88 - 97)
Brightest stars and constellations
Circumpolar stars

Astronomy in S.Africa (pp 98 - 104)
A heritage to be proud of
Contemporary astronomy
Professional observatories
Private & amateur observatories
Other sites of interest
Education in astronomy
Astronomical societies

ASSA (pp 105 - 108)
Office bearers 2005 – 2006
Officers and Award Recipients

Reference (pp 109 - 110)
Useful websites




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