'We saw it from far away, the dish - we saw it going up and then turning. Turning all around. It doesn't move fast - just slowly all around. It is very beautiful to see it happening.' - Abie Makok, Church Warder, United Reformed Church, Carnarvon, Northern Cape.Read More
‘So I think it can form a basis for humanity, the world, to say that we all have a relationship with the stars and we have used stars for different purposes. If we start sharing those experiences, those practices, those stories - it is one way in which we can unite our people.’
Sivuyile Manxoyi, South African Astronomical Observatory, SALT Collateral Benefits ProgrammeRead More
The lights are left on through the night at this new petrol station building site - mainly for safety. The manager of the building project, who also slept on site, was eager to show visitors around - clearly dedicated to building a place that everyone can be proud of. He also explained that the station will be named after the owner's daughter, who, as she grew up, really took a liking to the energy of the people working at stations of this kind.Read More
'To whom shall I dedicate this book? It is about a being who is not human, who is higher than man - an unattainable superior.
I think I will go to the opposite - and then I will not have to look very far. I lost a friend a long time ago - a friend that I loved and who loved me. I will never see him again forever; but forever I will never forget him. Now, after all these years, there is not a day that passes without his image coming before me and I'm grieving about him. To him I was the higher being - a Loeloeraai of a higher existence. To me he was the ultimate perfection I found on earth, of love and faithfulness and virtue. And I lost him, and I miss him dearly. . .
I dedicate this work:
To the memory of
MY FRIEND AND DOG, JAKHALS’
From the dedication of Loeloeraai, CJ Langenhoven, 4th Edition 1929, First published 1923. Translated from original Afrikaans by Nic Grobler.
Photograph inspired by Loeloeraai, CJ Langenhoven. Loeloeraai is a visitor from Venus, who spends about two weeks with a family in Oudtshoorn. They end up going on a small trip to the moon before Loeloeraai returns to Venus.Read More
'I’ve learned a a lot about stars by coming here. I knew enough stars before so that I could point out a few, but here I got to learn more about them - about stars, what they are, what they are made of and so on. How they come about and into being. Before we were just learning names and constellations but here we were going deeper into it. Usually I just looked at them - without any understanding. Just you know, like if you looking at a tree that is standing there, you know that it is a tree, it is just there, it is a tree, you don’t really know what it does or anything. So I’ve got to learn more about stars, who they do and what their significance are in our lives and in the lives of everything around us. I understood that things were big you know - like the earth has got to be big, and South Africa has to be big - but without understanding that there were even bigger things out there. You know when you look at the sun, from a distance, like when it is on the horizon before it sets. You are not exactly sure where it is and how it relates to you and your life - you just know it is something that is out there. You are so far away from it, you don’t actually know that is very big. You could fit like a million earths into the sun - that is how big it is. It is hard to grasp. You know you are part of this world, but the universe can feel like something else - far from you. Even at night, you are thinking: there is the universe and here am I. But all in all you are part of the universe, you know, the universe is you, the universe is me, the universe is around - the space we are living in is the universe. This is not just earth and your life and then the universe is over there - you are in the universe. So in terms of understanding the whole universe like that. Ja… ja… a very very big place you know - really no one can understand how big it is, like fully understand. You can talk numbers, like 13,7 billion light years - what is that? You don’t know, but it’s big, something very big.’
This is a transition area between Planetarium entrance and the Planetarium dome - An area where the viewers eyes are given some time to adjust to the darkness that they will be in when inside the dome.Read More
'The place where I was born influenced my life to a great extent - I was born in the Northern Cape, in a small town called Upington, where the summers would be so hot you couldn't sleep indoors; we would carry our beds outside and sleep there. That is where my love of stars started, and it kept on influencing the rest of my life - it is as if I was born to do this. I'm at my happiest when I am here and telling people what they can see up there in the night sky. When I've been away from the planetarium and I come back to it again and activate the system and see what is up there, it is like coming home. It really touches me - I remember showing children for the first time with the new system flying away from Earth, and seeing planet Earth projected on the dome, even though I knew it was just a projection - to me it was such an emotional moment, to see our planet so fragile, so beautiful, so blue, projected on the dome. I could share that moment with the children as it felt like they were with me from the responses I got. You can do so much more with the new system than the old one, although I'm still sometimes very nostalgic about the old system, how it was really a hands-on system, now you are just sitting behind the computer and pressing the buttons, but it can show you show much more and can put you right there. You feel less contained with this system, here I can fly you thought the solar system, through the galaxy, out of our galaxy and the gasps I get from people when they see our galaxy from the outside is just absolutely amazing. This is as close to real as we can take you, without putting you into space, which is of course not possible at the moment!'
Elsabé Uys, Planetarium Presenter, Iziko Planetarium, Cape TownRead More
'Do you want to hear it? It is nothing spectacular. But you’ll get an idea of what happens during the eclipse. Maximum brightness, first contact, second contact… getting close to totality - It doesn’t go completely silent because you will always have some light. We were able to get our sensor to be sensitive enough to detect luminosity. My friends at the University of Harvard were able to achieve minus 1 lux of sensitivity, that means it is a little bit more sensitive than the human eye.'
Wanda was a post doctoral fellow at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town and currently works with the Office of Astronomy for Development(OAD) where she has led the OAD project AstroSense since April 2014. She helped develop sonification methods that allow us to listen to the stars. Her research in this field started after losing her sight as an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico.Read More
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
'With the 1.9m we were looking at the spectra itself. Like looking at a prism, we used diffraction gratings where you could shift the light and look at different parts of the colour spectrum - from there you can tell from what stars were made of and so forth. Just doing star gazing, especially if you look at Jupiter and Saturn, it blows your mind away. If you look at Jupiter it looks like a solar system on its own. The big mother planet with a few small moons around it, and from time to time you see one of the moons disappear. Then you look at Saturn with the nice rings around it, it looks like a sombrero - that is just unbelievable.'
Francois van Wyk, Night Assistant and service observer, South African Astronomical Observatory, Sutherland.Read More
'Meteorites or shooting stars are regarded in the Xhosa speaking community as a bad luck omen. This is because it is believed that when somebody dies they become an ancestor and the spirit of that dead person is wandering among the stars guarding us from the evil spirits. So if, perhaps, one dies as a bad person then that person would be a bad spirit or ancestor and up in the celestial sphere the good ancestors would kick out the bad ancestors - so when you see a meteor coming down you are actually seeing one of those bad ancestors being kicked out of the celestial sphere and it falls down. When you see this we say ‘let the bad luck pass us for we are not the only one who saw that’ - meaning that we associate that with bad spirit.'Read More
'We are leaving a memory - an inheritance through the SKA. We are staying positive because a change is coming into the land - so that many people can see. We heard about changes in Sutherland, and now it is happening here as well. Many are negative but they perhaps do not know what is really happening. For our children this will help them, to go into a direction to study, at the University. They spoke about this at the meeting, going in this direction for the youth. For the future I'd love for the children to learn, and not struggle with work, to get a bursary and to study further.'Read More
‘I’ll just tell them it is a thorny tree, it can get stuck into your clothes - you have to pull it out. It goes so deep into your skin that you need to rip it out - it is very dangerous plant. I don’t even want to get close to it and I keep my distance when I water it. It will pierce straight through your clothes into your skin - the thorns are that sharp.’ The same species of plant that was chosen for the photograph of Die Hemelblom (photograph to the right) was found growing in front of Wilhelmina Bostaander’s house in Carnarvon. Photograph inspired by Die Hemelblom, by Jan Rabie, first published 1971. The Hemelblom was sent to the earth by a concerned galactic council to ensure the survival of life on earth.Read More
A planetary poster is visible through an educational face in the hole display at the Space Science Centre in Hermanus - South Africa's national geomagnetic research facility.
South Africa maintains a scientific base in Antartica where it is ideal to study the Southern Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly - covering an area where communication systems are more exposed and vulnerable to damages and interruptions caused by high levels of radiation from space. Together with the geomagnetic and auroral observation research done on the Antarctic, Marion and Gough Islands, SANSA Space Science promotes interest in science through science advancement programmes.
SANSA(South African National Space Agency) Space Science emerged from the original Hermanus Magnetic Observatory that was first established in 1941.
Text adapted from www.sansa.org.za.
'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.
‘The half blood is not accepted by anyone, he is not ethnic enough for his own group and not good enough for the group he is descended from. So both groups reject him, but he posesses the skills and knowledge of both groups - the strong characteristics of both groups is combined within him. Even though he is initially rejected by the modern group and the historical native group, at the end of the day he unites them - he is the glue that keeps them together. He is the connection or the missing link between them and the two groups then fight together against what you can call the evil side - the bad guys in the story. With him as the leader figure. In the beginning the natives from the planet Kazdan, the Hunters didn't trust the Neanites who were technologically advanced - almost seen as gods. Like it was in the past when the white man landed in the Cape - everybody thought it was amazing and at the end of the day it wasn't that amazing and there is a golden middle groud to be followed and somebody has to take the lead - that is the half blood that brings the groups together. That is the initiating concept of my sci-fi story.’
Nico Smit, Sci-Fi Writer, ClanwilliamRead More
'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
‘I enjoyed the scientific work, especially solving problems and understanding the physics of the stars, so doing something like this is a kind of motivation for other people to become interested in astronomy and until you studied physics and astronomy you don’t really know what is going on in the stars and you don’t see what professional astronomers are interested in. There are many things happening in our own galaxy and in our own solar system and of course with the space age we know a lot more now about planets and asteroids and many things. So even quite nearby objects turned out to be more interesting than people realised in the past. I studied the heat radiation from stars, with infra-red light. Usually stars that are forming or stars that are dying have a lot of dust around them and this shows up very strongly in the infra-red, so I studied basically variable stars that show up brightly in the infra-red and I studied certain types of galaxies which have active centers, the nuclei we call them - and Quasars. So you think of stars, but dust and gas are also very important parts of the galaxies in the sky.’Read More