Auke Lynnette and I set out on Wednesday afternoon for the appointment with Carl Fourie (Head of Department: Mathematics at Elkanah House) and his group of senior learners from the school (you can visit their webpage here), who were spending a few days at the Kogelberg Farm Hostel (visit this site to find out more about this venue) on the farm Casey’s Ridge near Grabouw (see here for more about Grabouw) in the heart of one of South Africa’s principle apple and wine producing areas. Casey’s Ridge farm is owned by Vrede en Lust vineyards in Franschhoek (go here to read more about them) and its vineyards produce some of Vrede en Lust’s award winning white wines. the Kogelberg Farm Hostel is situated just a few kilometers west of ESKOM’s Palmiet Pumped Storage power generation facility (go here for more information) or read the article about our visit to the site here. Casey’s Ridge also borders the Kogelberg Nature Reserve (go here to read more about the Reserve)
We started the visit with a very informative, short presentation by Auke on the Universe. Unfortunately he was hampered by projector problems which were the result of either overheating or an unstable power supply. After the talk the group set about building Southern Star Wheels in preparation for the evening’s viewing.
While the group went off to supper, we drove down to the viewing site on a netball court and also had our supper, courtesy of Lynnette. After supper we set up and waited. The group arrived but, for some unknown reason, the message about bringing the Star Wheels did not seem to have registered because, apart from two that I saw, there were none there. Auke did an extensive what’s-up-tonight, pointing out a wide range of interesting objects and constellations and, after that Lynnette operated Maphefu and Lorenzo while I set the Celestron on the Moon.
Not having heeded Martin’s instruction to write down the settings for various types of objects, but rather trusting my memory, I could find everything but not produce the sort of imagery the system was really capable off. Mrs Foster’s little boy really seems to have a persistent learning disability.
As for the learner who snubbed Lynnette, when she told somebody that the darker areas on the moon were lava plains, by remarking to bystanders, “Just ignore her, there is no lava on the Moon”; I would like to suggest that said person should do some reading. It might then be possible to convert a Smart-ass to a Bright-ass. Lynnette was just too polite to take you down a peg or two.
Generally all went well and I thought that the group of learners, who were more interested in catching up on cuddle-time than in astronomy, was significantly smaller than on the previous encounter. In all fairness though, it was lot warmer on the netball court than on the grass at Dassenberg Broilers, where we saw them last (go here to read about that occasion) and also a whole lot less windy. Thank you very much for the opportunity to do the presentation Carl, the learners and Elkanah House.