Our fourth IAU/OAD astronomy outreach event for the public was held at the Forever Resorts in Tshipise. With already three venues under the belt, Sarah, James and I are now well versed in this type of outreach from packing equipment and setting up to handing out information and answering questions. Armed with some more new material courtesy of Sam Rametse from the South African SKA project, we departed for Tshipise at around 18:30 on Friday evening.
The resort was hosting a bulletjie rugby day on Saturday and the 95 chalets as well as the 370 camping and caravan sites were jam-packed with parents and children from eight different schools in the region. With the program starting at 07:30 and ending at around 14:00 it was always going to be a long, hot day, followed with some hopefully clear skies for the evening stargazing.
By 08:00 we had our first customers looking at the Sun which did not disappoint. There were three major groups of sunspots prompting comments about dirty optics! For the next few hours of continuous interest the three of us alternated with manning the scope, handing out the material that was on offer, and watching our youngest son Christopher play his rugby games. The back-to-back games finally ended at around 14:00 and after packing up, the four of us headed to the hot pool for a well deserved swim prior to setting up for the evening’s stargazing.
The turnout for the evening’s stargazing was not what we expected, obviously everyone exhausted from the hot day’s activities. Nevertheless we had a steady stream of visitors joining James and I for views of the Moon and Saturn while Sarah started the fire for the evening’s braai. A number of guests brought blankets and made themselves comfortable on the grass as we watched the constellation Scorpius rising before the Moon made its appearance in the beautiful bushveldt surroundings.
All in all a very successful outreach, with well over 500 people from young to old, showing great curiosity in everything we had to offer.
This coming weekend sees us visiting Mokopane (Potgieterus), you’ll find us be at Comanche Spur on Saturday 1st June, from sunset on and outside Pick & Pay on Sunday 2nd June from 09:00.