HEMELBLOM (1971), CARNARVON, NORTHERN CAPE
Die Hemelblom, 1971, (The sky flower) by Jan Rabie is a Sci-fi novel about the Galactic Council that sends "sky flowers" to the hopelessly polluted and exploited earth, which then covered the earth and supplanted all other life. So it is an early warning about the dangers of pollution to the earth and its inhabitants. The sky flowers will wither as soon as they covered the whole earth, and it will leave a clean uninhabited earth. The scientists who serve in Cape 2, the space observation station on the Karoo side of the Boland coastal mountains, is surprised at the appearance of the sky flower. They are the commander Francois Korsten, the engineering student Bill Murray and botanist Peter Jordan. Then are abducted by Marwa, an alien working for the Galactic Council. (Translated from Afrikaans)
DIE HEMELBLOM # 1, CARNARVON, NORTHERN CAPE
CHRIS FORDER'S TELESCOPE, CEDERBERG ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY, WESTERN CAPE
"We got music going - we try to keep it to calm music, so that we are not too excited. If you get to excited then things start going wrong and you start doing stupid things. You must just keep calm the whole time while you are imaging. After all the stars will wait - if you don’t get them tonight, you can get them tomorrow night. Time is nothing to them, time is everything to us." - Chris Forder. Amateur Telescope builder.
THE MARWA'S CAVE, (FROM JAN RABIE'S "DIE HEMELBLOM" 1971), TRUITJIESKRAAL, CEDERBERG
'For real, that is not a shadow, but a 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 Hemelblom (Heaven flower) by Jan Rabie, 1971. Translated from the original Afrikaans.
SALT, SAAO, SUTHERLAND, NORTHERN CAPE
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world.
'With the 1.9m we were looking at the spectra itself. Like looking at a prism, we used refraction gratings where you could shift the light and look at different parts of the color 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. 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 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.
SKAAP, CARNAVON, NORTHERN CAPE
'Some people have this strange notion that there is a clash between religion and science. Especially when they come to a poor congregation, where the majority are poor people, they will think that they are perhaps creationist type of people - who reject science per se. That is not even close to the truth. In fact I think we love science, we love to know more. We may have a certain interpretation of the wonders of creation, we believe in a creator, we believe that God not only created everything but that we are part of that creation and we want to really like to dispel the notion of science versus religion as always clashing. The Bible was never written with the intention of writing up a science handbook.'
Dr. Isak Potgieter, Pastor, United Reformed Church, Carnavon.
TEMBA MATOMELA, EDUCATOR, PLANETARIUM OUTREACH OFFICER, EXPERT OF INDIGENOUS ASTRONOMY
'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.'