Porterville Stargazing: March 2015

StarPeople and Snorre venture out into the countryside without Auke.

Nathalie from Porterville Tourism had been corresponding with us since late in 2014 after she heard about our activities during National Science Week from Clanwilliam Tourism. Go here to read about our activities during National Science Week 2014.  After a lot of juggling a date was fixed and we started getting ourselves all fired up but then, at the last moment, Auke had to pull out. Despite this setback Lynnette, Snorre and I packed the Vito and set off for Porterville shortly after nine in the morning.

The Vito, Loaded and ready to go.
The Vito, loaded and ready to go.
Top left: Intersection of Brackenfell Boulevard and Frans Conradie Drive. Top right: Turn right for the N1 and Paarl. Bottom left: Straight ahead for Wellington. Bottom right: Our destination appears for the first time, turn left for Porterville.
Top left: Intersection of Brackenfell Boulevard and Frans Conradie Drive.
Top right: Turn right for the N1 and Paarl.
Bottom left: Straight ahead for Wellington.
Bottom right: Our destination appears for the first time, turn left for Porterville.

 

Top left: On the R44 and ESKOM is fixing a pylon at the Hermon turnoff. Top right: I've always found it difficult to comprehend that at this point Ceres and Porterville are the same distance away. Bottom left: Must be a special fix-it-day because Spoornet is working on the railway line too. Bottom right: The R44 stretches out ahead of us toward the morning mist hanging over the Tulbagh valley.
Top left: On the R44 and ESKOM is fixing a pylon at the Hermon turnoff.
Top right: I’ve always found it difficult to comprehend that at this point Ceres and Porterville are the same distance away.
Bottom left: Must be a special fix-it-day because Spoornet is working on the railway line too.
Bottom right: The R44 stretches out ahead of us toward the morning mist hanging over the Tulbagh valley.

 

Top left: Approaching the turnoff where the R44 goes left to our destination and the R46 carries on through Nuwekloof. Top right: Right, here we are, left for Porterville. Bottom left: The grain silos at Gouda coming up on our left. Bottom right: Gouda station to the left and Gouda bids us welcome but we will give it a miss this time round.
Top left: Approaching the turnoff where the R44 goes left to our destination and the R46 carries on through Nuwekloof.
Top right: Right, here we are, left for Porterville.
Bottom left: The grain silos at Gouda coming up on our left.
Bottom right: Gouda station to the left and Gouda bids us welcome but we will give it a miss this time round.
Top left: A troup of babboons was spread out on either side of the road foraging for breakfast. Top right: This chap stopped for a morning scratch. Bottom left: Signpost to Saron the erstwhile Mission Station. Bottom right: 20 km to go and this hopeful chap thought we might be able to give him a lift.
Top left: A troup of babboons was spread out on either side of the road foraging for breakfast.
Top right: This chap stopped for a morning scratch.
Bottom left: Signpost to Saron the erstwhile Mission Station.
Bottom right: 20 km to go and this hopeful fellow thought we might be able to give him a lift.
Top left: Nathalie on teh phone organizing Porterville's tourism and Lynnette collecting brochures Background: The cheerful mural on the front wall of the Tourism Office and an unintentional "selfie", Bottom right: A notice announcing that Porterville has a twin in Belgium.
Top left: Nathalie on the phone organizing Porterville’s tourism and Lynnette collecting brochures
Background: The cheerful mural on the front wall of the Tourism Office and an unintentional “selfie”,
Bottom right: A notice announcing that Porterville has a twin in Belgium.

Once there Nathalie got us organized and sent us off to our guest house, the Rendezvous where we had a light lunch and, as the show was only due to start at 19:00, we figured that an after lunch nap would be just what the doctor ordered.

We pitched at the Golf Club just after 16:00 and were met by Chanelle who lent a very able hand with the unloading and setting up. She even produced a cup of coffee when I needed it most.

 

Background: The eye catching poster used to advertise the stargazing event. Top right: Lynnette, Chanelle and Lorenzo and the row of trees that got tangled with the setting moon a little later on.  Bottom left: The Vito, Chanelle, Lynnette and Lorenzo. Bottom right: The very useful open area with our A-frame display frames that really worked very well.
Background: The eye catching poster used to advertise the stargazing event.
Top right: Lynnette, Chanelle and Lorenzo and the row of trees that got tangled with the setting moon a little later on.
Bottom left: The Vito, Chanelle, Lynnette and Lorenzo.
Bottom right: The very useful open area with our A-frame display frames that really worked very well.
Background: the orange glow of a Porterville sunset. Top right: Lynnette giving Chanelle and two youngsters a preview of the Moon. Bottom left: These two were of to join their father who was hard at work polishing his golf shots. Bottom right:  Lynnette chatting with Ronel and Sybe Bakker.
Background: the orange glow of a Porterville sunset.
Top right: Lynnette giving Chanelle and two youngsters a preview of the Moon.
Bottom left: These two were of to join their father who was hard at work polishing his golf shots.
Bottom right: Lynnette chatting with Ronel and Sybe Bakker.
Top left: A Porterville sunset. Top right: The birthday table. Bottom left and right: Guests tucking in to their suppers.
Top left: A Porterville sunset.
Top right: The birthday table.
Bottom left and right: Guests tucking in to their suppers.
Top left: This shot shows the venue at the Golf-club which is really very nice except for the fact that there is a just a tad too much light for stargazing. The other three photos: various photographs of the guests listening to the welcome and introduction.
Top left: This shot shows the venue at the Golf-club which is really very nice except for the fact that there is a just a tad too much light for stargazing.
The other three: Various photographs of the guests listening to the welcome and introduction.

The rest of the guests trickled in and we tried to give as many as possible a glimpse of the crescent moon, that was going to dip behind the trees long before it actually set. Shortly after 19:00 the food parcels were handed out and the 50-odd people tucked into their suppers. When they were finished eating I gave a short introductory talk and after that people fetched chairs from somewhere inside the Club and positioned themselves around the telescopes, where I gave them a fairly comprehensive coverage of the visible night sky.  Although the sky was not absolutely dark I was pleasantly surprised by how dark it actually was. The Coal Sack was only just visible but with some concentration one could actually make out omega Centauri and the LMC. I think that if we had put of all the lights inside the clubhouse and put out the two street lights just behind the building, we might actually have had a really dark sky.

Background: guests during the introduction and one of our posters.  Top right: Myself and the guests out on the  lawn during the what's-up. Note the amount of light. Bottom left:  Some guests came well prepared to sit  back and enjoy the stargazing.
Background: guests during the introduction and one of our posters.
Top right: Myself and the guests out on the
lawn during the what’s-up. Note the amount of light.
Bottom left: Some guests came well prepared to sit back and enjoy the stargazing.

Most of the people were very enthusiastic and appreciative of the fact that we had come all the way from Brackenfell to entertain them astronomically. Jupiter and its moons got a very warm reception from everyone.  Some people were less impressed with the Orion Nebula but somehow the Tarantula tickled their fancy as did eta Carina. Omega Centauri and 47 Tuc weren’t as popular as I thought they would be but the Jewel Box was exciting for most people. The Southern Pleiades didn’t cause much of a stir though. Between Lynette and I we scored a lovely bunch of flowers and two bottles of Porterville’s grapes in liquid form; thank you Porterville. We started packing up around 22:00 and were very thankful for the assistance of Nathalie and her friends and also off Chanelle. Without all that help we would not have made it out of there before midnight.

Left: The guesthouse cat sniffing around as she tries to figure out where the "stranger"  is. Right: The "stranger" aka Snorre.
Left: The guesthouse cat sniffing around as she tries to figure out where the “stranger” is.
Right: The “stranger” aka Snorre.
Top: The guesthouse's front garden and the welcoming stoep at the entrance. Bottom left: Lynnette in a pensive mood at breakfast. Bottom right: Our bedroom at the guesthouse. Background: The guesthouse's eye-catching notice board.
Top: The guesthouse’s front garden and the welcoming stoep at the entrance.
Bottom left: Lynnette in a pensive mood at breakfast.
Bottom right: Our bedroom at the guesthouse.
Background: The guesthouse’s eye-catching notice board.

The next day, after breakfast, we popped round to the Tourism Office to say goodbye to Nathalie and then went off to Houdconstant to buy figs before heading home to Brackenfell. Lynnette and I think the presentation was successful and will certainly take Porterville Tourism up on their invitation to do it again.  Next time Auke must come along or Ronel Bakker will boycott us.

Top left: On our way home and to the left the latest addition to the growing number of wind farms in the Western Cape. Top right: The pothole warning is best heeded as some of them were quite serious. Bottom left: At the intersection where the R46 joins the R44.  Bottom right: Coming up to the Hermon turnoff where the R46 and the R44 part company again.
Top left: On our way home and to the left the latest addition to the growing number of wind farms in the Western Cape.
Top right: The pothole warning is best heeded as some of them were quite serious.
Bottom left: At the intersection where the R46 joins the R44.
Bottom right: Coming up to the Hermon turnoff where the R46 and the R44 part company again.
Top left: Sonkwasdrif  turnoff coming up. Top right: Signpost to Voëlvlei dam, one of Cape Town's water sources that also supplies towns on the West Coast and also serves as a major water sport, recreation centre Bottom left: The treatment plant is just visible low down against the backdrop of a section of the Limietberg mountain range. Bottom right: The photos clearly show that this is wheat country with the yellow stubble of last years crop stretching for miles.
Top left: Sonkwasdrif turnoff coming up.
Top right: Signpost to Voëlvlei dam, one of Cape Town’s water sources that also supplies towns on the West Coast and also serves as a major water sport, recreation centre
Bottom left: The treatment plant is just visible low down against the backdrop of a section of the Limietberg mountain range.
Bottom right: The photos clearly show that this is wheat country with the yellow stubble of last years crop stretching for miles.
Top left: Hermon turnoff and now we are well on our way home. Top right: I am not sure what the point of the large green refuse drum is next to the road sign. Bottom left: The yellow wheat stubble makes abice contrast against the blue backdrop of the mountains. Bottom right: A spot of Rugga anybody?  Actually the signpost directs you to the Stormers stalwart's father's farm
Top left: Hermon turnoff and now we are well on our way home.
Top right: I am not sure what the point of the large green refuse drum is next to the road sign.
Bottom left: The yellow wheat stubble makes abice contrast against the blue backdrop of the mountains.
Bottom right: A spot of Rugga anybody? Actually the signpost directs you to the Stormers stalwart’s father’s farm.
The turnoff to the Anglo Boer War (Anglo South African war/South African War) blockhouse as one enters Wellington.
The turnoff to the Anglo Boer War (Anglo South African war/South African War) blockhouse as one enters Wellington.
We made it through Wellington despite the potholes and the extensive roadworks and were well on our way home by now.
We made it through Wellington despite the potholes and the extensive roadworks and were well on our way home by now.
At last a sign that says Cape Town and directs us onto the N1.
At last a sign that says Cape Town and directs us onto the N1.
A busy N1 and we are getting really close now as we pass the Stellenbosch/Klipheuwel flyover.
A busy N1 and we are getting really close now as we pass the Stellenbosch/Klipheuwel flyover.
At last we get of the N1 and as we join up with Brackenfell Boulevard we will turn right and then we are almost home and dry.
At last we get of the N1 and as we join up with Brackenfell Boulevard we will turn right and then we are almost home and dry.