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New UCT/UWC SKA Chair appointment

The UCT Astronomy Department and the UWC Physics Department are delighted to announce that

the joint UCT/UWC SKA Research Chair

has been filled and will be taken up in January 2014 by Prof Russ Taylor

Prof Taylor is coming to us from Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Calgary. He has extensive expertise in radio astronomy, in particular wide-field polarization, cosmic magnetism and Big Data, and has played a prominent role in the SKA project since its inception. He was one of the founding international SKA project scientists and co-authored the first SKA science case. He currently represents Canada as one of the national members on the SKA Organization Board. Before that he served as the founding Executive Secretary of the International SKA Steering Committee, the predecessor to the International SKA Science and Engineering Committee. He is interested in using MeerKAT to detect polarized signals from the low luminosity AGN and star forming galaxies as an initial step toward the SKA key science area of the evolution of cosmic magnetism. Both UWC and UCT are extremely pleased that Prof Taylor will start building up this research area in South Africa.

UCT and SKA SA astronomers publish the first HI line (neutral hydrogen) paper based on KAT-7 observations

A team composed of Prof C. Carignan, postdoctoral fellows D. Lucero and K. Hess, PhD students B. Frank and T. Randriamampandry from UCT and of SKA SA scientists S. Goedhart and S. Passmoor have published, in the well-known Astronomical Journal, the first scientific publication on neutral hydrogen (HI) using KAT-7 observations. The astronomers pointed the telescope towards a galaxy called NGC 3109 – a spiral galaxy, about 4.3 million light-years away from Earth, located in the constellation of Hydra.

SKA SA fellow is lead author of first scientific paper from KAT-7 results

First paper: Dr Richard Armstrong (right) and Assoc Prof Patrick Woudt,on top of UCT’s RW James Building, home to the astronomy department.Armstrong is the first author of a scientific paper based on observations performed with South Africa’s new KAT-7 radio telescope.Woudt and Prof Rob Fender (not in picture) of the University of Southampton and a SKA visiting professor at UCT are co-authors.

UCT Astronomy department hosting large international conference on Galactic and extragalactic novae

In the week of 4-8 February, UCT Astronomy is hosting a large international conference on Galactic and extragalactic novae. This meeting, named "Stella Novae: Past and Future Decades", is the 4th international conference in a series of conferences on classical novae.

First emission line image of the Tarantula Nebula using the UCT teaching telescope

First emission line image of the Tarantula Nebula, taken on 23/01/2013, using the UCT teaching telescope. The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus, or NGC 2070) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). It was originally thought to be a star, but in 1751 Nicolas Louis de Lacaille recognized its nebular nature.

"First Light" from the new teaching telescope

First light image of 30 Doradus taken on January 20, 2013 with the UCT teaching telescope. This is a raw image (22 x 30 seconds exposures with the L filter, automatic off-axis guiding and adaptive optics) with no calibration (flat field, bias, dark frames) taken in very strong wind conditions. Despite the wind, the image quality is quite good over the whole field of view.

Installation of New Teaching Telescope

An astronomer from the University de Montréal, Luc Turbide, has come to help Prof Claude Carignan and PhD student, Thuso Simon, setting up the teaching telescope on the roof of the RW James building. After 2 days, the telescope is already installed and we should get the first images on the first clear night.

New Honorary Professor

The Department of Astronomy is pleased announce that Prof Ted Williams, the incoming Director of the SAAO, has accepted an appointment as Honorary Professor as of the 1st of January, the start of his tenure as Director of the SAAO.

Astronomy Field Trips 2012

Over the September break, the second and third year astrophysics courses at UCT spend some time on a field trip at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland. The third years spent four nights observing the spectra of stars and galaxies, while the second years had a whirlwind one day tour of the small telescopes, SALT and the beautiful Sutherland night skies.

Chair of Astronomy, Prof Renée Kraan-Korteweg, elected Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union

Prof Kraan-Korteweg, the chair of Astronomy and head of the Astronomy department at UCT, has been elected Vice-President of the Executive Committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) at the 2012 General Assembly of the IAU in Beijing.


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