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Outreach in Stellenbosch (2009 Aug 29)  @psychohistorian.org

Outreach in Stellenbosch (2009 Aug 29)

posted: 3366 days ago, on Sunday, 2009 Aug 30 at 18:33
tags: astronomy, outreach, Stellenbosch.

Stars over the Braak

When you've advertized a public event, you follow through even if it is cloudy. So around 18:00 we converged on the Braak for the second night's outreach activity. (Yesterday's event)

Ed and Lynnette couldn't join us, but Erich Schliemann and Richard Ford joined our ranks, each bringing a 12-inch Dobsonian. Martin brought a 6-inch Dob and a 9-inch SCT, and I dragged Maphefo (8-inch Dob) along.

Maphefo was again set up on the brightly sodium-lit street corner, surrounded by posters and a banner.

The other telescopes were positioned in the (relative) darkness on the southern edge of the town square.

We hit the ground running.

A steady stream of visitors passed by and I quite soon lost count, my clicker only recording 174 star gazers, none of whom had ever looked through a telescope. There was much less cloud tonight, so clear views of the Moon and Jupiter could be enjoyed.

Richard Ford, a member of the Cape Centre, came through from Cape Town to help with the outreach. He writes:

"One of my passions came to life when I shared the night skies with young and old alike at the Braak. Over 50 students from Stellenbosch University observed the night sky with me," he said enthusiastically.

In addition to the Moon and Jupiter, several deep sky objects were shown in the telescopes set up in the dark. "One of the popular open clusters that evening was the Jewel Box Cluster and the Butterfly Cluster," writes Richard Ford. "The students absolutely enjoyed looking at these bright open clusters that evening. The globular cluster, Omega Centauri was on the brink of visibility that evening," he adds.

Richard Ford writes: "The students were absolutely thrilled by the appearance of Jupiterís cloud belts and white zones of how it appeared through my 12 inch dobby."

One highlight was a beautiful transit of Io's shadow across the disc of the planet, the crisp jet-black spot coming into view almost exactly on the equator, between the N and S Equatorial Belts.

"The students, young and old alike, could not resist looking at the transit of one of Jupiterís moons in front of the gas giant," Richard writes.

An image of Jupiter was kindly passed along by Oleg Toumilovitch, who captured it from Johannesburg using the Foton AstroCam VI, an 8-inch Cassegrain with a 2x Barlow.

Another highlight was meeting Ernst Jordaan, an engineering student at the US with a good deal of public outreach experience. We look forward to coercing him into joining the SGC committee ;-)

Equally delightful was Erich's willingness to set up his 'scope and to promise to join us on future outings.

It was especially pleasing to note that we had several return customers, who had been to previous star gazing sessions on the Braak and now came back for more.

Many of the guests were students; Richard noted that "some of them were wild and esoteric. They reminded me of my young days when I was wild and boisterous."

Around 23:00 the mist went from misty to soupy, and our sign-up forms were as crisp as a wet towel. We threw it in and by midnight we had packed up.

nothing more to see. please move along.


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