Stars over the Fynbos (2008 Dec 14)
As part of the Fynbos Festival in Kleinmond/Betty's Bay (organized by Louise Fick & team), Edward Foster and myself presented a star gazing evening at the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens on Sunday evening, December 14.
The delightful Jane Forester of Harold Porter showed us around and we set up in the spacious lecture room cum conference centre next to the restaurant. Educational posters were laid out in the rear of the room (in lieu of sticking them up on the newly-painted walls) and a planisphere activity table was set up.
As is the nature of an astronomy evening, no amount of planning can influence the weather. Early-afternoon saw complete cloud-cover over Betty's Bay accompanied by intermittent drizzle. Our Plan B was to present an extended version of the talk, make the Q&A session longer, and I was even going to perform a card trick.
No doubt because of the inclement weather, the turnout was disappointing, with only nine guests attending. Half-way through the talk Murphy appeared as the clouds began to thin. Edward set up Maphefo on the western stoep of the lecture venue (Lorenzo stayed at home) and Jupiter & Venus were on offer. By 20:30 the southern horizon was pretty clear and the stars of Argo Navis were on display. Through patches of clearing sky the remainder of the bright constellations could be pointed out and their mythology recounted.
By 21:30 Orion had risen over the mountain, and the Pleiades, Hyades and Canis Major were discussed. Even the low-down Jewel Box could be seen, and eta Carinae was also on the menu.
It was delightful to be able to point out that clouds over the ocean were dark because they were unafflicted by light pollution; in contrast, the Magellanic Clouds were distinct white cloud-like glows.
Shortly after 22:00 the Gardens closed.
Thanks to Louise and Jane for their assistance in arranging what turned out to be a lovely evening.
nothing more to see. please move along.