Blaauwklippen Xmas Market astronomy outreach (2015 Dec 17-19)

posted: 706 days ago, on Sunday, 2015 Dec 20 at 04:31
tags: astronomy, outreach, StarPeople, Sun, Moon, events, Stellenbosch.

The StarPeople - and StarFriends - were invited to the Blaauwklippen" Twilight Christmas Market to share the Sun, Moon and stars with the visitors. We had a great time last year, so we accepted without hesitation.

With the Sun sporting a massive sunspot, and a perfectly placed Moon, the severe light pollution wouldn't make it a total wash-out -- although many people were disappointed that they couldn't get a clear view of the stars. But the thousand or so who did look through the telescopes were super pleased, enjoying close-up views of our nearest celestial neighbours, and in many cases, taking their own cellphone photos to share with distant friends.

Changing appearance of the large sunspot complex over the three days of the Market.

Thursday, December 17

(top row) We arrived at about 15:00 to set up for the start of the market, at 17:00. The first two bits of kit deployed were Evan's solar microwave detector and Jonathan Balladon's 6-inch refractor (which Wendy is admiring on the right).

(centre) Leisurely picnic-style star gazing; Cheyenne & Christine came to show off her awesome cosmic top; close-up of the C-shaped sunspot.

(bottom) Panoramic view of the setup: Wendy's Dobby on the left, then Jonathan's refractor, Lorenzo in the distance, and Dirk Rossouw's kit (with custom red travel carrier) on the right.

(top) Dirk Rossouw, Jonathan Balladon, and Wendy Vermeulen.

(bottom) A row forms as Ed nudges Lorenzo on to the Moon; late-night view of the busy row of telescopes; the winner of our 6-inch equatorial Newtonian spot prize - Rayno, with StarPerson Lynnette Foster. Rayno is joining us at the Autumn 2016 Spring Southern Star Party, and we're keen to see him show off his new telescopist skills!

Friday, December 18

(top) Banners pinned to the grass; Ed with our first queue of eager Sungazers; close-up of the sunspot group

(bottom) Hectic night-time viewing, capably managed by Wendy (left) and the Dobby Trio (centre). The right-hand image is the scene just after packing up after a very busy evening. The Market was so well-attended that early evening they had to close the gates as they were at capacity! It was so busy at the eyepieces that there wasn't much time to take photos of the crowd.

Saturday, December 19

(top) Despite sombre weather predictions, Saturday afternoon turned out perfectly. After an early setup, it was time to chill and wait for 5 o'clock.

(bottom) Lorenzo poised for the Sun; Alan's 12-inch and 8-inch gave early views of the Moon; close-up of the sunspot.

(top) With the Sun gone, it was time for Lorenzo to move on to the Moon - but first a photo of that cool rock on Stellenbosch Mountain; the Moon's view of self-appointed telescope operator Duane; and our view of the Moon.

(bottom) Early evening view of the festive Market and our telescopes; StarPeople & StarFriends: Alan Cassells, myself, Ed & Lynnette Foster, Rose Cassells and Wendy Vermeulen. Other StarFriends who graciously helped out at this event were Jonathan Balladon and Dirk Rossouw. Many thanks, y'all! (And personal thanks to Duane & Breyten (all the way from Pretoria) for volunteering to help run the telescope & signature collection!)

nothing more to see. please move along.