This year’s IAU (OAD) Astronomy for the Public first event was held at Mall of the North in Polokwane on the 29th March. Fittingly our last IAU (OAD) event for the year was at the same venue and coincided with International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN 2013) in the evening, as well as the end of World Space Week 2013, during the day.
We were set up by 1pm and, even though it was mid-month, the shopping centre was busy and as usual we were kept on our toes handing out information and posters as well as a having a fantastic view of the solar disk with some very prominent sunspots. Much information was distributed, and it is always good to see peoples’ surprise when they don’t have to pay anything for the chance to get a view through the telescope or receive a poster or two. Children and students were particularly grateful to receive useful information that could also be used for future school projects.
As the Sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon we started setting up for the evening’s viewing with the Moon at the top of the agenda. With a clear view to the western horizon this would be followed by Venus, Mercury and Saturn. With the first quarter Moon up on the big screen we never did get around to the other planets except to point them out with the green laser pointer while relating interesting facts about them. The evening’s outreach consisted of looking at the Moon at the eyepiece of the telescope and alternating this with various projections of the lunar craters and seas on the big screen, while explaining what we were looking at. We packed up at around 10pm and had a late supper before heading back home to Louis Trichardt for a well-earned rest.