International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) in Gordon’s Bay

InOMN: Saturday the 19th of September 2015

I wish I could say we had a blast, but actually we were blasted out of business by the infamous Gordon’s Bay wind. The outing started off quite pleasantly with Auke, Lynnette, Richard, Wendy and I having a late lunch at Zest in Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay with a gentle breeze hardly ruffling the waters of False Bay.

We started setting up on the strip of grass next to the parking area just west of the Sunset Spur on the Gordon’s Bay beachfront at about 16:15. By then the breeze had gone from “gentle” to “stiff” and showed signs of converting from “breeze” to “wind” judging by the wisps of cloud just beginning to peep over the mountains.

Top left: Richard and his 12"ready for action Top centre: Wendy and her 8" wait for the first viewers Top right: This young viewer had her priorities right - "" first the lollipop and then I'll look Bottom left: These two want to look at the mountain too, so Wendy obliged Bottom centre: Lynnette holding onto certificates and attendance registers Bottom right: One of the handful of visitors that braved the wind and ignored the Rugby

Top left: Richard and his 12″ready for action
Top centre: Wendy and her 8″ wait for the first viewers
Top right: This young viewer had her priorities right – “first the lollipop and then I’ll look at the Moon”
Bottom left: These two wanted to look at the mountain too, so Wendy obliged
Bottom centre: Lynnette holding onto certificates and attendance registers in the wind
Bottom right: One of the handful of visitors that braved the wind and ignored the rugby

We started setting up on the strip of grass next to the parking area just west of the Sunset Spur on the Gordon’s Bay beachfront at about 16:15. By then the breeze had gone from “gentle” to “stiff” and showed signs of converting from “breeze” to “wind” judging by the wisps of cloud just beginning to peep over the mountains.

In the meantime we had also figured out that the absence of people, on the normally busy beach front, was not due to the weather at all. The Rugby World Cup was on in England and South Africa’s Pride & Joy were due to take on the underdogs, Japan, later in the afternoon.  People were probably all gathered indoors getting into the spirit of things for what most people, so I am led to believe, considered a walk in the park for our Men in Green. It seems, however, that the Cherry Blossoms had other ideas and eventually served our lads up as Sprinkbok sushi.

As they say in Dutch, “Hoe zijn de helden niet gevallen!”.

I did not watch the game, but it almost sounds as if the chaps from the Land of The Rising Sun fulfilled Sir Sagramore’s boast to Guenevere “I’ll serve him to your highness en brochette!”.

Top left: Richard and two visitors who braved the wind to look at the moon Top centre: Wendy on the left all wrapped up by this stage Top right: Poor Lynnette wrapped herself in a blanket to combat the wind and the cold Bottom left: Even the birds were leaving for some place downwind Bottom centre: The wind literally blew the telescopes of target unless you held onto them Bottom right: We did actually see the moon as this cellphone photograph shows
Top left: Richard and two visitors who braved the wind to look at the moon
Top centre: Wendy on the left all wrapped up by this stage
Top right: Poor Lynnette wrapped herself in a blanket to combat the wind and the cold
Bottom left: Even the birds were leaving for some place downwind
Bottom centre: The wind literally blew the telescopes off target
Bottom right: We did actually see the moon as this cellphone photograph shows

In the meantime we saw the Moon and the Sun and a beautiful sunset and, to use an Afrikaans expression, “ons het ons gat gesien”. The wind went from a stiff breeze to strong wind to a gale as the afternoon wore on into the early evening.  It blew over tables and chairs, overturned plastic crates and scattered their contents and even rocked the poor telescopes. Lynnette had her work cut out trying to keep the certificates and attendance registers from leaving us and going flyabout over False Bay. As is to be expected, once the sun set it also became colder and the wind’s chill factor maliciously dropped the temperature even further, sending us all scurrying for anoraks, windbreakers and coats.

A collection of photographs to try and show the spectacular sunset. Somehow my photographs just never seem to capture how amazing this sort of scene really was. Sigh!
A collection of photographs to try and show the spectacular sunset. Somehow my photographs just never seem to capture how amazing this sort of scene really was. Sigh!

By about 19:30 we decided that, despite the beautiful sunset, enough was enough so we packed up and headed for the Indigo Spur in Somerset West’s Waterstone Village Centre. Why not the Spur right next to where we were? Because we wanted to get as far away from the infernal wind as possible.

Of course when we arrived at the Waterstone Village Center, it was a lovely balmy, windless evening!

Not Devil's Peak and Table Mountain but the sleeping Olympian giant Adamastor. Look closely and you will see hus forehead shoulde of Devil's Peak, His nose is the peak itself, his torso is Table Mountain itself and his toes are down near Constantia Neck.
Not Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain, but the sleeping Olympian giant Adamastor.
Look closely and you will see his forehead is the shoulder of Devil’s Peak, his nose is the peak itself, his torso is Table Mountain and his toes are down near Constantia Neck.

Despite the very windy conditions we were treated to a splendid sunset and a spectacular view of the sleeping mythological figure Adamastor. Camões describes this terrifying figure in the verse below.

“Even as I spoke, an immense shape
Materialised in the night air,
Grotesque and enormous stature
With heavy jowls, and an unkempt beard
Scowling from shrunken, hollow eyes
Its complexion earthy and pale,
Its hair grizzled and matted with clay,
Its mouth coal black, teeth yellow with decay.”
—Camões, The Lusiads Canto V.

The artist, Cyril Coetzee, tells us that he used to be one of the giants of Olympus. He fell in love with a beautiful, seductive sea nymph called Thetis, but she was repulsed by his extreme size and hideous looks. Thetis’s mother, Doris, promised to arrange a tryst for him with her daughter. One, night, as Doris had sworn, Thetis appeared. The passionate giant ran towards her and took her in his arms, only to find himself embracing a rock. He was transformed into the mountains of the Cape Peninsula, where he still sleeps.  (Cyril Coetzee: Myth of Adamastor Revisited)

One day, legend has it, Adamastor will rise up, rally his fellow giants and they will shake the Earth once more, filling the air with smoke, fire and a great cacophony that will be heard by all mankind and fill them with fear and wonder.

A contemporary rendition of the Adamastor myth well worth reading, is Andre P. Brink’s short novel The First Life of Adamastor (Random House/Struik, 2000).

International Space Week & International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) 2013

As a result of the infamous Cape Weather we had to move the event indoors.  This meant that there was no solar viewing during the day and eventually also no viewing of the Moon either.

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It was wet, windy and cold

Shortly after 08:00 we were all on site.  As Lynnette and I  disembarked the first thing we saw was Auke, coffee and pipe in hand outside Pannarotti’s.  We fetched shopping trolleys and and as I unloaded, Lynnette, Alan and Rose moved the gear indoors out of the drizzle.  After sorting out a territorial dispute with ADT about the prime spot we set up the tables, spread the table clothes, unpacked brochures, models and other paraphernalia and also got all the posters put up.

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Auke’s InOMN poster with a very informative one on Space Junk, which he also produced, below that. Sue Duffell of In-Touch Printing provided an excellent service, at very short notice, for printing and laminating all our posters.
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The World Space Week poster.

By 10:00 we were operational.  Lynnette and I manned the table, Alan took up position as solar system adviser and Rose and Auke took of in opposite directions to hand out flyers to all the shops in the Mall.

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Alan doing his thing on the Solar System model
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Auke, Saturn 5 and a crowd of interested spectators

The Solar System model drew a lot of attention and Alan barely had time to grab a bit to eat.  The model of the Saturn 5 rocket was also quit a popular item and focus for interaction which Auke handled with his usual flair.  At the table Lynnette was kept busy making sure that visitors did not make off with multiple copies of the more interesting brochures and also that as many visitors to the stand as possible signed our visitor’s book. The brochures kindly supplied by Catherine Webster of  SANSA (South African National Space Agency) were especially popular.  Strange how signing the visitor’s book seems to be a problem for so many people.  Quite a few refuse point blank to sign while others are clearly suspicious and many have to be begged to take up the pen.

During the course of the afternoon it became apparent that the predicted clearing of the weather forecast for later in the afternoon was not going to materialize.  We packed up at 17:00, loaded everything into the vehicles and went off to have supper in the Spur.  During the course of supper we received word that the Orion Observation Group had cancelled their Moon viewing event at the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl.  By the time we had finished supper at around 18:30 the clouds were still there and, although the Moon was visible from time to time, these periods were far too short to be of any use to us, so we called of our event as well.

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A fleeting glimpse of the Moon from an overcast Zevenwacht Mall

Up in Limpopo Kos Coronaios and his team had perfect weather and they were able to do InOMN proud so it was Limpopo 1 Western Cape 0!

There are more photos of our activities to be seen here.