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Darragh O’Donoghue 1957-2015

Darragh O’Donoghue 1957-2015 In Memorium: Darragh O’Donoghue was a truly remarkable man and an extremely talented scientist. He contributed enormously to astronomy, South Africa and, most profoundly, to the lives of his many colleagues and friends around the world. In 1977 he came to Cape Town, from Durban where he had studied physics as an […]

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Brown Dwarfs

Stars are massive bodies – the sun, which is a middle of the road dwarf star, has a mass of 2 billion billion billion tons. The crushing weight of all that material leads to enormous pressures and temperatures at the centres of stars – extreme enough to cause nuclear reactions, which again produce the radiation […]

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Barium central stars

At the heart of all planetary nebulae is a star hot enough to ionise the gaseous envelope that we see, usually a white dwarf. Curiously, some planetary nebulae only show nuclei that are cool giant or sub-giant stars at optical wavelengths. These stars are too cool to ionise the nebula. So what’s going on? If […]

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Elusive Binary System

SALT Discovers an Elusive Binary System Sculpting the Planetary Nebula NGC 5189 I wonder what James Dunlop was thinking when he stumbled across one particular nebula with his telescope from suburban Sydney in 1826. In the fledgling colonial Australian city, far from his Scottish home, Dunlop called the newly discovered nebula Delta 252 (Cozens, Walsh […]

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MASTERS of the Universe

The MASTER-SAAO robotic optical transient detection system consisting of two 0.4m telescopes. Following the installation of the robotic MASTER SAAO optical transient detection system in December 2015, some 27 new transients have been detected. Of these 19 are new cataclysmic variables (CVs), 2 were supernovae and 6 were unclassified transients. In addition several Gamma Ray […]

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SA Comet Discovery

First South African Comet Discovery in 37 Years In the early hours of the 7th April, an un-manned robotic telescope, MASTER-SAAO, situated near Sutherland in the Karoo, discovered a new comet. This is the first comet to be discovered in South Africa since 1978.  The Russian – South African run telescope has been scanning the […]