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Macastro Newsletter – June 2019

Welcome to our monthly general newsletter which will reach you, our members and subscribed members of the public, during the week prior to our Macarthur Astronomy Forum each month by simple email.


Dear Members and Subscribers,

This is my second newsletter as your new President, so hopefully I have the content matching this time.

We have a busy year for the club with the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary in July, public outreach events, “Pie in the Sky” at Cuttaway Hill Winery on this Saturday night 15th, the usual club viewing nights and much more.  Our public night on the 8th at the Campbelltown Rotary Observatory had to be cancelled due to heavy cloud cover. Those that braved the cold conditions at Belanglo Forest had a great time.

This year’s big event is getting close Sunday 21 July celebrates the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing and walk on the moon. Titled “Apollo 11 to STEM and The Next Generation”, it takes its title from the official NASA logo and our partners One Giant Leap Australia (OGLA). OGLA are bringing over six current and former scientists from NASA/JPL for STEM discussions and their bios and talks will be on our website shortly.  We will show “The Dish”! This is an all day event and ticketing has been running for over a month.  Members should make their bookings ASAP as they are open for the public and spaces will go fast.  We did give members a grace period before opening to the public. Don’t forget this is a “once in a life chance”, unless you’re going to be around in 2069.


BREAKING NEWS (just came in yesterday, Thursday, 13th June)

We have been given a special offer for MAS Members ONLY.  “Buy a ticket to the event and come and ‘meet and greet’ the scientists at the Catholic Club Bistro for a drink, a meal and a chat”.  Everyone must pay for their own meals and drinks.


Bookings are through TryBooking,  Charges are very modest for an event of this size.

We have now secured some outside funding from our partners, being, Campbelltown City Council, Campbelltown Library, Australian Space Agency, VintageFM, The Australian Botanic Garden, Cuttaway Hill, Commonwealth Bank Employees (Ingleburn), Camera House (Macarthur Square) and Campbelltown Rotary Obseratory WSU. (not in any specific order).  Meetings are in progress for a couple of additional sponsors.

Our Membership Officer, Henry Swierk. has sent out final reminders to those who have not yet renewed.  If you have changed your address, email or telephone number, please let Henry know ASAP.  Payment of a re-joining fee will now be required, with the exception of a small number of long term members with 10 years or more.

We have a very busy season, please check out the calendar for all of our events



“ASKAP and its role in the SKA era”

It was great to see Emil back with us with another excellent talk as always.  He discussed the different types of radio data collection and what the SKA has already done and hopes to do in the future. (Thanks to Frank Lauterbach for the meeting images)


Our new mentoring year is now under way!  This year we are working with two schools.  Thank you to those members who have taken on students.


Our most recent event was at Cuttaway Wines, Exeter for their “Pie in the Sky” night.  We will have a report on it in the next newsletter.

On 20 July, in conjunction with the Casula Powerhouse, MAS will participate in an event displaying members photographs, a talk will be given followed by an observation session of the moon and other celestial bodies. The Powerhouse launches a series of events going from the 20th July until the 8th September.  Link to Casula Powerhouse Exhibitions

We have a number of public events with Campbelltown City Council and Campbelltown City Library Services who are one our sponsors for the Apollo 11 to Stem and the next Giant Leap event.

Campbelltown City Council

  • Love Ingleburn: Into the night – 21st June 2019

Campbelltown City Library Service

  • Astronomy Night – 13th July 2019
  • Trivia Night – 13th July 2019
  • Oral Histories or Apollo – various dates
  • STEM project – various dates

We have over 140 members now and it would be great to see more of you at our Outreach events.  You don’t need to have telescope.

Clear skies!


Allan Hobbs

President, Macarthur Astronomical Society Inc.






Les is one of the most experienced amateur astronomers in Australia and has been observing the night sky for 50 years.

He boasts of never having purchased a telescope (at least until recently) — preferring instead to build his own from a mixture of home made and commercially available components.


He currently observes with 46cm [18”] and 63.5cm [25”] Newtonian reflectors and is mainly interested in observing galaxies, planetary nebulae and globular star clusters.


Les has one of the largest and most detailed observing logs in the world with almost 6,000 objects observed and noted. 


He is a past president of the Sutherland Astronomical Society and has been a member of that society for a total of 35 years, spread over about 45 years.


Les also worked as a guide and lecturer at Sydney Observatory from 1999 to 2016 where he also conducted astronomy courses.


He is also a former contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine (2000-2009), Australian Sky & Telescope magazine (2005-2015) and has contributed to several other astronomical publications.






Photo by Ric Forster


Belanglo Forest –          Next planned weekend is June 28 – June 30.  Gates open by 2pm.



Stargard – Is next weekend, Saturday June 22nd, we’ll cross our fingers for good weather, please!.





China – 15 May – 29 May 2019. 16 members, partners and friends went to China and had a whale of a time.

We will have a report in the next newsletter, but in the meantime here are a few images to keep your interest.



Photo by Tony (but he’s in the photo!)



All items are now in stock.

See online price list:

Beanies, Caps, Mugs, Polo Shirts, Pens and Jackets are in stock or if you need another size, can be ordered for you through

Red Light LED Torches $10.00 inc. batteries.

“When Galaxies Collide” Prof. Lisa Harvey Smith.  $25.00





Next Month




Heavens Above – June 2019 CHAMAELEON – The Chameleon

by Bob Bee

An uninspiring constellation of faint stars named by Dutch navigators in the late 16th century. Their nights at sea must have been remarkably boring. It is very close to the South Celestial Pole, immediately beneath Carina, the Keel. It looks like a long stretched kite, on its side. To find it, extend the length of the Southern Cross 2.5 times. This should land very close to beta Cham.

Chamaeleon is mostly bereft of spectacular deep sky objects but is interesting all the same, mostly for its binocular (or low power telescope) doubles. But it has a few DSOs up its sleeve.

Firstly, the attractive delta Cham, the bottom star of the kite. Its two unrelated stars, 4.5′ apart, show up clearly in binoculars. One is a 5th mag. orange giant 350 light years away while the other is a 4th mag. blue star 10 light years further away. Note the contrast in colours.

The western end of the ‘kite’ comprises two separate stars that make an attractive wide double in binoculars. alpha and theta Cham. are white (mag. 4.1) and orange (mag. 4.3) and are actually quite close to each other at 63 and 78 light years respectively. Then spread out between alpha and delta are two other optical double pairs: zeta and iota Cham. are both 5th magnitude, white (718 light years) and yellow (294 light years). Then eta and RS Chamare both 5th magnitude.

At the eastern end, just 1.5° above beta Cham. is a beautiful blue and gold wide double. It’s epsilon Cham. Though fainter (mags. 4.9 and 6.5) and closer (only 2.3′ apart) than delta, your binoculars and scope will split them into a very delicate and attractive pair. And look for the even fainter (mag. 7) and wider pair between beta and epsilon.

Parked midway between zeta and delta Cham. is NGC 3195, a planetary nebula. It is the most southern of all the bright sizable planetary nebula in the sky and remains invisible to all northern observers. Discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1835, this (very faint) 11.6 apparent magnitude planetary nebula, about b5,500 ly away, is slightly oval in shape, with dimensions of 40×35 arc seconds, and can be seen visually in telescopic apertures of 10.5 centimetres at low magnifications. Good luck with that.

The next item is for your astronomical interest only. I doubt we amateurs can see it.

The eta Chamaeleontis star cluster (also know as Mamajek 1), around twelve stars grouped about the star eta Cham. and discovered in 1999, is one of the most important nearby groupings of pre-main sequence (PMS) stars. That means they are so young they haven’t even started their main sequence life of cooking hydrogen to helium at their cores. With accurately known distance, compact structure and highly-coeval intermediate-aged population (that just means having the same date of origin), the eta Cham. cluster is an important laboratory for enhancing the understanding of all PMS star evolutionary issues. They are believed to be less than 10 million years old.



Chamaeleon Constellation                                                                      NGC 3195


During November 2015, Camden Council Library Services launched their Telescope loan service to library members. Instigated by the library and supported by MAS, they now have four 8″ Dobsonians and four ED80 refractors on loan. An ideal first step for families and individuals to ‘try before you buy’. The project is a great success.

Contact MAS if you need assistance.



The Society owns four telescopes which, subject to availability, may be loaned under the MAS Education Programme to current members. See website for T’s and C’s




MAS acknowledges Western Sydney University’s generosity in permitting us the use of its facilities to hold MAS events such as the Macarthur Astronomy Forum and the Campbelltown Rotary Observatory for public viewing nights.