OOG 2006 year-end star party at Delvera
Scenic Delvera, just outside Stellenbosch, was the venue for the year-end star party of OOG – the Orion Observasie Groep – on Saturday, 2006 November 18. Hosted by Serena Ingamells, Willie Koorts & Carol Botha, some 70 folk gathered on the north-facing lawn, in front of the Vineyard Connection, and set up telescopes and picnic apparatus.
Just after sunset, fortified by the buffet and local wines, Willie Koorts gave an illustrated talk on computers in astronomy, revealing amongst other things that these used to be female in the days of yore. He also described the essential role computers play in operating SALT – some 16 different computers are required for it to function smoothly.
A delightful surprise followed as Carol Botha presented her illustrated version of the traditional Bushman tale of the origin of the Moon. The text, taken from a tale published by G R von Wielligh, was brought to life by her series of stylised drawings, and I'd love to see more!
I brought along print-outs of the Top 100 Deesky Objects list (including selected star maps), and was thrilled that forty sets were taken. I look forward to hearing from observers who seek out some of these delightful southern gems.
With the sky clear and dark, guests then mingled amongst the telescopes, where the first target was Messier 31, the Andromeda Galaxy. Even with nearby lights and less than pristine skies, M31 could be seen with the naked eye, and Messier 33 was a ready binocular target, rising above the Klapmuts koppie (which is top, centre in the image below).
Wicked green laser pointers lanced into the night, which made pointing out stars, constellations and deepsky objects amazingly easy. Willie showed me a great trick: he held his laser pointer against the tube of a telescope and turned the 'scope so that the green beam bulls-eyed 47 Tuc – and there it was in the eyepiece!
With Orion and Argo well-placed for observing, needless to say I made sure I got a view of M42 (through Carol's 'scope) – divine. Other targets included Messier 41 in Canis Major and several clusters in Puppis.
It was after midnight that the exodus began, and I returned home having spent an enjoyable evening in the starry winelands surrounded by telescopes and star-lovers.
nothing more to see. please move along.