September 2013

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La Caille and the Far Southern Sky
William Tobin

The Abbé Nicolas-Louis de La Caille (1713-1762) is one of the early European explorers of the far southern sky. This essay discusses La Caille's new southern constellations as represented by Anne-Louise Le Jeuneux in a magnificent oil painting dated 1755. Along the way it also reviews new books by Ian Glass and Nick Kanas.
Volume 52, number 3. September 2013. P3

Southern Close Binaries Programme of the VSS
R Idaczyk, M Blackford, E Budding, R Butland

We review the programme of studies of southern close eclipsing binary systems that has been underway in recent years, involving observations at the Mt John University Observatory and elsewhere in the region. We include brief descriptions of equipment used, before presenting summary results on four typical examples (U Oph, V831 Cen, R CMa and η Mus) drawn from the programme. We show that absolute stellar parameters thus obtained are of high enough quality to compare favourably with any other recent data in this field. Thus, for U Oph, we derived a new value for the third star's mass, and an age consistent with the system's origin in Gould's Belt. We announced the chemical peculiarity of the third star accompanying V831 Cen. Our new parameters for R CMa solve the longstanding 'overluminosity' issue, although the close pair must have lost considerable angular momentum. For η Mus, we discovered another member of the system that removes the problem of the (otherwise) anomalous radial velocity of η Mus B. Such new findings encourage interest in further pursuit of the programme.
Volume 52, number 3. September 2013. P16

Book Review - Imaging the Southern Sky by Stephen Chadwick and Ian Cooper
Bill Williams

Volume 52, number 3. September 2013. P22