Location scouting, day 1: West Coast (Astronomy Month 2008)

posted: 3366 days ago, on Tuesday, 2008 Sep 23 at 15:14
tags: astronomy, outreach, Astronomy Month 2008, SAASTA, Ed Foster, Carol Botha.

Astronomy Month starts in about a week. Eight rural towns, four week-ends, hundreds of hours, and loads of enthusiasm lie ahead. But first, we need to organize the venues for our star shows.

Lacking final confirmation from SAASTA about the exact status of our grant application, we decided nonetheless to go ahead and scout for suitable locations in the towns we hope to visit.

On today's itinerary would be four West Coast towns, so we (Ed, Carol, and myself) set off early to Langebaan for our first appointment. And breakfast. We met with Andre Kruger, who knowledgeably explained the various tourism structures of the region.

Then it was off to Velddrif where, just before 13:00, we met with Bea Struwig of Velddrif Tourism. We explained what we would like to do (daytime astronomy activities, followed by a star party the evening), and she was immediately keen. Bea took us on a tour of likely spots where we could set up (on Friday, October 3), and made several suggestions that we would incorporate into our presentations later the day. Her enthusiasm and eagerness to help was refreshing. In fact, it was almost exhilarating, and although we didn't know it at the time set the tone for the rest of the day's dealings with tourism officials.

Piketberg was our next stop, and at 15:00 we met Martin and Lucille Domburg of Piketberg Tourism. Their willingness to help was quickly evident. During the day (on Friday, October 10) we will set up in Langstraat, and the evening's star party will be at the Landbouskousaal.

After lunch we were off to Moorreesburg, where Rose and Annalize were happy to meet us even though it was past 17:00. Here, too, we were met with heartening enthusiasm and interest. Our day venue (on Saturday, October 11) would be on the main road outside the Spar, and the evening star party is slated for the Museum/Library complex.

With the Sun on the way down, and thick rain clouds overhead, we set off home. Keeping in mind that a large sunspot was reported being visible near the solar limb, we stopped off along the way to try and see it, but with no luck. En route we evaluated the day's efforts, and each expressed in our own way the helpfulness of the various tourist officials we had dealt with. These folk are so keen, I said, that I'm sure that if we showed them how to operate a telescope, they'd run the whole show themselves.

We also discussed our second scheduled presentation, on Saturday October 4, which will be at the West Coast Fossil Park, managed by the lovely Pippa. The day's events will be at the nearby fishing community of Groendorp, and the evening's viewing will be at the Fossil Park.

Our ~700km round-trip came to an end in a thunderous downpour hopefully the rain will be a thing of the past in October. Tomorrow, we tackle the Breede River Valley.

Our initial programme is thus as follows:

  1. Fri, Oct 3: Velddrif
  2. Sat, Oct 4: Groendorp/West Coast Fossil Park
  3. Fri, Oct 10: Piketberg
  4. Sat, Oct 11: Moorreesburg

Slide show

 Bea Struwig of Velddrif Tourism outside the library.  [click to start slide show]

nothing more to see. please move along.