‘Knersvlakte’, literally translated from Afrikaans means “gnashing plain”. The name is said to originate from the crunching sound made by contact with the white, quartz-rich gravel. The quartz also reflects the sunlight, which makes the rocks and soil cooler in temperature than surrounding areas. This unique condition has allowed a large number of endemic plants to proliferate - many of these are small succulents that can absorb heat during the long and dry summers.Read More
'"Ten . . . Nine . . . Eight . . . Seven . . . Six . . . Five . . . Four . . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . . Zero!"
The constant punch of thunder shakes the whole area. All eyes are focussed on the heavens or monitors that show images of the heavens. Inside them VR3 shrinks on top of an intense column of fire, first moving slowly, then faster, then unbelievably fast until it microscopically swims into the blue sea of heaven.'
'If man ventures out into space, he needs to be prepared to realise quite a few other things. That he was not the first intelligent being to do so and that he was not even the first child of Terra to leave his mother planet in this way. He'll learn to be humble. And further: That Terra is not the only planet in the heavens. That he can forget his allegiance to Terra. That he himself might change out in space, that he will never totally be and think the same as his fellow humans on Terra.'
From chapter 1 and chapter 11, Die Groen Planeet (The Green Planet), Jan Rabie, First edition, 1961. Translated from the original Afrikaans by Nic Grobler.
Photograph inspired by Die Groen Planeet, Jan Rabie, 1961.
These rocks contain a high percentage of iron and their dark appearance forms a truly ancient landscape. The rocks make a metal sound when played; they are referred to with different names such as ‘rock gongs’, ‘ringing rocks’ or even ‘bushman pianos’. Found in various areas around the world and Africa, tradition formed around communicating with the help of the rocks - evident by the ancient drumming marks often found on them.Read More
'My first three years, I was working with other people as I was undergoing training. From there on, most of the time I was on my own. Sometimes for 14 hours in winter, just with a CD player, my night lunch and my coffee. Then it is up to you to make all the decisions. You have just got to make sure you stay awake and alert. Otherwise you can screw up big time. I did fall asleep, but the thing is, if you feel you are tired it is best to close the dome, switch everything off and sit and sleep. If you leave things on and you fall asleep then you are in trouble.’
Francois van Wyk, Night Assistant and service observer, South African Astronomical Observatory, Sutherland.
SALT (Southern African Large Telescope) at the South African Astronomical Observatory, just outside Sutherland in the Northern Cape. It is one of the largest optical telescopes in the world - so powerful and sensitive that it could spot a candle flame on the moon.
'For real, that is not a shadow, but an upright being squeezed up against the edge. Kind of like a human form with two arms and legs, a narrow, oval face framed by a cap looking like a bare skull, clothed in a blue overall that they only had a glimpse of previously. Dead quiet. Francois lowers the torch, lifts it again. One thing is for sure: this being is just as afraid as they are.'
From Die Hemelblom (The Heavenly Flower) by Jan Rabie, 2nd edition 1974, Tafelberg, first published 1971. Translated from the original Afrikaans by Nic Grobler.
The first encounter with Marwa, the main alien character in Die Hemelblom takes place in a collapsed cave near the Cederberg - she takes hands with the humans as they search for the a way out together.Read More
'Are we alone, I don’t know - the thing is we will probably never know. If we find a civilization that can signal to us, we’ve got to be able to signal to them. If they are a 100 light years away we are talking about a 100 years between every communication, and by then the other one may have died out or they may have not reached the communications technology or we may have blown ourselves up enough to have to start all over again. So we will probably not communicate with anyone out there - not in our lifetime. But there is probably someone. We are so proud that we call them aliens - we may be the aliens. Who knows.'
Chris Forder. Amateur Telescope builder.Read More
'We all sat down in this amphitheatre - everyone so excited. Waiting for it to start, and then every now and then a car would arrive in the parking lot and its lights would shine onto the screen and then everyone would freak out a bit. This guy gave a presentation, using like Hubble telescope photographs, each and every photo - incredibly impressive full multicoloured images. This all whilst telling us about the telescopes they themselves have built and that we will be able to see Jupiter with them after the presentation. When we eventually went to look through the telescopes - it was all monochrome tiny little things, no multicolored Hubble stuff. Anyway, it was so great though seeing these old guys, listening to Led Zeppelin, who go up there every two weeks, observing through the night. It’s their thing, it is like playing golf to them'
Dennis Williams, visitor to Cederberg Astronomical Observatory.Read More