A view of the Moon

A view of the Southern Hemisphere Moon

Taken with a Nikon D5100 mounted directly (no lens used) onto a 12″ Skywatcher Dobsonian telescope.
Location: Brackenfell, Western Cape, South Africa
GPS: 33.811S,18.68E
Altitude: 75m
Date Shot: 09/11/2013
Time Shot: 20:57:27.80
Aperture: F0
Shutter Speed: 1/200s
Exposure Mode: Manual
Exposure Comp: 0EV
Metering: Center-Weighted
ISO: 400

Bonnievale Bonanza – 2013

Bonnieval Bonanza – 2013

From the 01st to the 03rd of November 2013 ELF Astronomy and Star People conducted an outreach event at the annual Bonnievale Bonanza in Bonnievale.  This is the main fundraising, actually the only fundraising event, for the Bonnievale High School.

Lynnette and her sister Petro putting the finishing touches to the papermache Mars. Lynnette is actually finishing off the crater on Olympus Mons at this point

Auke, Lynnette, Snorre  and I set off as planned on Thursday under cloudy skies for Bonnievale. First stop was the Dassiefontein Farm stall on the N2 between Botrivier and Caledon.  Pay the place a visit next time you are out that way, because it is not your usual farm stall by any manner of means.

View from the parking area in front of the Dassiefontein farm stall
The menus and in the wheelbarrow perched on the old mill stone behind the menu there’s a fire going
I think Auke is try to see the future in his coffee cup.
Coffee at Dassiefontein

After refreshments we hit the road again and eventually clocked in at Bonnies BB in Bonnievale where we were welcomed by Div and his wife Wilna.  One look at our heavily loaded trailer and the crowded Vito and Div promptly offered us the use of part of his spacious garage to unpack the trailer and do any last minute preparations.

The lovely garden at Bonnies Bed and Breakfast in Bonnievale
Snorre on his leash in our room at the guest house

We set off to find Huipie Schreuder who is the lady in charge of organizing the Bonnivale Bonanaza.  She was in Robertson so we set off to explore Bonnivale.  We eventually made contact with Huipie and sorted out the details about where we were to set up the next day. We had an early supper in town and then returned to the guest house to finalize our preparations for the next two days.

The next two days can be summed up very briefly by telling you that it rained cats and dogs on the Friday and turned into quite a scorcher on the Saturday.  So, on Friday there was no solar viewing during the day and definitely no stargazing in the evening.

Friday was wet and windy
It was wet on Friday in Bonnievale. So wet, in fact, that even the Universe was under water
I have mentioned that it was wet, in fact so wet that Lynnette was using an umbrella under the gazebo.

On Saturday it cleared by mid-morning and we were able to show the sun to a large number of visitors. While either Lynnette or I were manning the telescope, Auke and whoever was free tried to talk to as many passers-by as possible about astronomy related topics.

On Saturday the Sun, at last. Please note papermache Mars obscuring Auke’s head
Lynnette – holding the umbrella – doing her thing on solar viewing with two interested members of the public
Me and some children who wanted to look at the Sun

Later in the afternoon we tried out Auke’s latest brainchild, a game which required participants to throw small hoops around hooks screwed into tiny Saturns on a board.  It worked very well and, with some refinements, it is going to turn into a star attraction in the future.

Another hopeful contest trying to win the telescope.

During the course of the evening we were able to show visitors Venus and nothing else, as the floodlights made everything else invisible.

The next day we packed up after breakfast, said our farewells and set off home.  We broke our journey at Dassiefontein again, before dropping Auke off in Somerset West and heading home to Brackenfell to unpack and pack away.  The packing away was complicated by the fact that almost everything was damp and many things were muddy so that we had to wash and dry before we could actually pack away again.

Snorre catching the late afternoon sun and at the same time preventing the banners I had washed from taking off in the wind

What did we learn form the weekend?  First of all, there is no really effective “Plan B” if it rains and one does not have access to a hall or some other dry indoor facility.  Secondly, shows like the Bonnievale Bonanza are run under floodlights, lots of them, and this blots out all but the very brightest of stars.  For shows like this, the Moon really is essential. We are also going to have to invent or find some portable means of fixing banners and posters neatly so that we can not only be more visible, but also use our resources properly.