The observatory is staffed most weekends the exception being full moon weekends (When the moon is full, one cannot see anything else because the moon is too bright) The staff at the observatory perform various activities as outlined below.
Astrophotography is one of the many activities performed by the astronomers on duty.. Photos are taken of many astronomical objects using either conventional photography or CCD photography (digital). The objects photographed include planets, star patterns, clusters, nebulae and deep sky objects like galaxies and planetary nebulae.
Measurements of variable stars are done as well as timings of occultations. This information is then forwarded to various institutions like the AAVSO (America Association of Variable Star Observers) and ILOC (International Lunar Occultation Center).
Assisting Other Astronomers
Occasionally the staff is required to assist visiting astronomers in a particular task. These visiting astronomers may be professional or other amateur astronomers. Douglas Arnold with the help of Bill Hollenbach came to photograph many southern constellations for his star atlas (Photographic Atlas of the Stars – HJP Arnold, P Doherty, P Moore, 1997). Axel Mellinger photographed many of his southern skies from the Cederberg Observatory for his photographic atlas.
In 2004 Titan occulted 2 stars. Thomas Wiedermann was the SA organiser of the operation run by Prof Bruno Sicardy of l'Observatoire de Paris. The expedition ranged from South America to Namibia and South Africa. Cederberg was one of 2 stations which got the best observations (the other being Sutherland). Results were published in Ciel et Espace.
At times the staff will arrange special viewing evenings for interested parties such as school groups or scout groups. If you are interested in bringing up a large group of people to the observatory please feel free to contact any of the partners for more details.
During the day the only observable star is our own star the SUN. Sun spots and occasionally solar flares and eclipses can be viewed. Most people in the area will be enjoying the outdoor life and doing some of the many activities on offer in the Cederberg from hiking and swimming to just resting with a good book.