Talk at the Hermanus Astronomy Centre – 02 October 2014

Once upon a time when the Western Cape was young …

A tale about why everything isn’t just flat everywhere.

On Thursday 02nd of October Lynnette, Snorre and I set out for Hermanus.  The first port of call was Lee’s new place in Sandbaai where Snorre was confined to his carry box, because we were uncertain what the reception from Lee’s three resident felines would be. All went very well but, just to be on the safe side, we confined Snorre to Lee’s spare bedroom when the three of us left to have supper with Pierre de Villiers, the chairman of the Hermanus Centre.

The three resident "Moon Cats"at Lee's place
The three resident “Moon Cats” at Lee’s place

After a pleasant meal at Lemon Butta and some impromptu whale watching we headed out to the SANSA (South African National Space Agency).  They are housed in the buildings of the erstwhile Hermanus Magnetic Observatory.

The whale festival was in full swing at Hermanus and the whales  were there doing their thing
The Hermanus Whale Festival was in full swing at Hermanus and the whales were there doing their thing
Just a puff of vapour and a section of  its back hints at the presence of the whale
Just a puff of vapour and a section of its back hints at the presence of the whale
A big splash of its giant tail
A big splash of its giant tail
A last glimpse of the tail as the whale dives
A last glimpse of the tail as the whale dives

Pierre introduced me and I then presented my talk. This covered the geological origins of the Western Cape and I took the audience in a time journey from the deposition of the sediments forming the Malmesbury shales in the Adamastor Ocean through to the present. Along the way we stopped of briefly to look at the formation of the Agulhas Sea, sedimentation of the material that forms the Cape Fold Belt Mountains, the folding and uplifting of those sediments and eventually the breakup of Gondwana and subsequent erosion down to its present day appearance.

Pierre de Villiers introducing me
Pierre de Villiers introducing me
The title slide of my talk
The title slide of my talk
Members of the Hermanus Centre attending my talk
Some of the members of the Hermanus Centre attending my talk
More members of the Hermanus Centre attending my talk
More members of the Hermanus Centre attending my talk

After the talk we stopped off at Lee’s place for coffee and to collect Snorre.  Then we headed home to Brackenfell and packed for the weekend’s activities at the Makadas Country Festival in Touw’s River.

Snorre in his "I am taking over" pose at Lee's place.
Snorre in his “I am taking over” pose at Lee’s place.

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.

DSC_0067
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.

DSC_0008
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.
DSC_0011
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.

DSC_0060
Alan doing his thing on the Solar System model
DSC_0040
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.

DSC_0072
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.