August 8th & 9th Tzaneen (Letaba show)

Once again the Letaba Show in Tzaneen did not disappoint.  James and I were setup by midday and were kept pretty busy. For the first few hours there was a lot of interest from the various learners as the schools had closed early due to the public holiday the following day (Women’s Day, Friday 9th August).  Once again loads of handout material and posters were available, including views of our closest star at the telescope.  This was the first time this year during our outreach activities that there were only a few small sunspots visible on the solar disk.  Shortly after sunset we spotted the day-old Moon and projected that on the screen handing out Moon facts to the passing public.  After the Moon it was Saturn’s turn on the screen followed by views at the eyepiece that had everyone oohing and aahing.  During the course of the evening we showed various astronomy related clips including ones of Curiosity which has now been on the Martian surface for a year.  We packed up at around 21:00 and after a late meal at the local Spur retired for the evening.

After an uncustomarily late breakfast and having a cheetah peering into our hotel room in the morning, we were up and running again by 10:00 am.   Due to the public holiday it promised to be a hectic day and once again Tzaneen and the Letaba Show did not disappoint.  In the two days that we were there James and I did not once get the opportunity to walk around and look at any of the stalls.  During the course of the day people and kids were being bussed in from around Tzaneen and we often had queues at the telescope as well as at the handout table.  The display of cosmic and fossil history going back 2.1 billion years with a South African flavour, named “Fossils, Light & Time”, was once again a winner, broaching various aspects of our fossil history as well as the light, time line that it portrays.  Thunderclouds in the afternoon had us packing up the telescope on two occasions before it cleared up enough late in the afternoon for another attempt at setting up again.  The Moon and Venus were popular targets till around 19:30, before the Moon disappeared behind the main events tent.  Unfortunately it started clouding over again and although we pointed the telescope at Saturn, there was nothing to see.  Thankfully the rain stayed away but we could not use the telescope for the remainder of the evening due to the cloud cover.  After an exhaustingly long day we decided to pack up at around 20:30 and head home to Louis Trichardt.

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