Report 05: 15th SSP. (September 05-10, 2018)

The 2018 Spring Southern Star Party, StarPeople’s 15th event, was held at Leeuwenboschfontein on the far western edge of the Little Karoo from 05 to 10 September (see the first announcement).

Front Row (Left to Right): Alan Cassells, Rose Cassells, Pamela Cooper, Dylan Lock, Jana Smit, Juri Smit, Awie Smit, Victoria Bark, Anya Lock, Kiona van der Merwe, Sarah Collier, Jamie Kersting, Rennier Mulder, Martie Mulder, Paul Kruger
Second Row (Left to Right): Roger Macfarlane, John Richards, Gavin Lock, Suki Lock, Leesha Singh, Sally Macfarlane, Michelle Bark, Lynn Court, Doret Smit, Gigi Laidler, Jannie Nijeboer, Christine Kersting, Cheyenne Kersting, Nicole Markle, Dianne Nxumalo-Köhler, Lynnette Foster, Edward Foster
Third Row (Left to Right): Marc Roffey, Wendy Vermeulen, Benny Kotze, Pierre de Villiers, Kechil Kirkham, Juanita van Rensburg, Susan Lotz, Lenelle Foster, Kim Reitz, Caryn Pendlebury, Marcelle de Sousa, Robin Köhler, Dennis Laidler
Fourth Row (Left to Right): Paul Pendlebury, Chris Theunissen, Corné van Dyk, Derek Duckitt, Rob Bark, Kindy Theunissen, Andre Smit, Chris Forder, Harald Kersting, Marius Reitz, Wim Filmalter, Eddy Nijeboer, Ray Brederode
Inset Left (Tertia Steyn, Prof Herman Steyn) Inset Right (Dr Daniel Cunnama)

The event was held early in the Southern Hemisphere’s Spring in an area that is normally dry. However, it was neither dry nor typical Spring weather but very cold and wet with snow on the higher peaks.  Just check out all the jackets, caps and scarves in the group photograph!  Despite the inclement weather, there were periods when the sky cleared and then the viewing was very good. On the evenings of the 9th and the 10th, when it cleared completely, the viewing was fantastic.

Organizing a Star Party? Step 1: Get everything organized and laid out in the house. Step 2: Get everything out under the carport ready for loading. Step 3: Empty the carport into the vehicle. Step 4: When everything is loaded, depart.
1. Sunrise 2. Sunset, 3. Earth’s shadow & Venus girdle 4. Snow on the Hex River Mountains.
1. Empty hall on arrival 2. Prof Herman Steyn speaking – notice the woolen caps & warm jackets 3. There were quite a few youngsters 4. Rob and Michelle’s first SSP
1. Coffee break 2. Dr Daniel Cunnama speaking 3. Tertia, Eddy, Rose & Alan 4. Dr Cunnama emphasizes a point

The presentations by Prof Herman Steyn (A Historical Overview of the University of Stellenbosch’s Satellite Projects over the past 25 years) and Dr Daniel Cunnama (Simulations of galaxies and galaxy clusters) were very good and enjoyed by all. The short talks on Saturday afternoon by Rob Bark, Chris Forder, Wim Filmalter and Kechil Kirkham gave the audience a closer look at the different things that make amateur astronomers tick and specifically those that interested these four speakers.

1. Derek & Chris 2. Alan & Rose 3. Corné’s braai moves 4. The Kerstings and friends
1. Christine & Marti 2. Gavin’s braai moves 3. Paul’s Texan looking good 4. Christine, Jurie & Jana

The 15th SSP was a special one for John Richards as he became the 10th recipient of the coveted Star Party Veteran’s badge.  Congratulations John!

1. Edward hands over John’s Veteran’s Badge 2. Cheyenne & Christine and their very successful T-shirt painting layout 3. Edward hands over Captain Kirk(ham)’s mug of chocolates 4. Edward & Prof Herman Steyn
Some of the lovely t-shirt designs produced under Christine’s expert tuition.

Wim’s telescope exhibition, which drew lots of attention, showcased the ingenuity and workmanship of a few amateur telescope builders.

1. Alan & Wim’ with the 300mm f/8 collapsible 2. Alan & Rose with Joe Churms’ 150mm f/8 wooden tube Dobsonian 3. Sally & Roger with Jan Wolterbeek’s 150mm f/8 Dobsonian on an Old English fork mount 4. Alan with Joe Churms’ 70mm off-set Gregorian
1. 200mm f/5.6 Dobsonian “Bike-Scope” 2. 300mm f/8 Dobsonian 3. 100mm Jaeger’s refractor
1. Joe Churms’ 70mm off-set Gregorian 2. Dave Wilkonson’s 200mm f/8 Dobsonian with hand wheels for fine tuning 3. Marius Reitz’s new baby built by Chris Forder on its maiden outing

The people who attended this SSP were, as always, a fantastic crowd and the general atmosphere was warm despite the cold.

1. Activity around the telescopes at night 2. The Milky Way on Sunday night 3. The Lagoon and the Trifid on Saturday night 4. The morning after the night before
1. The Leeuwenbosch Lion 2. Snorre, our astronomical cat was so cold he even took his blanket with him when he went to have a snack 3. The rest of the time he spent under the blankets 4. A Caracal with a sad tale attached

From the Organizing Committee a heartfelt word of thanks to each and everyone that attended and made another memorable SSP possible. If you missed this one please make a note of the date for the Autumn SSP (03rd to the 08th of April 2019) at the same venue and make sure you join us. If you were at this event, we hope to see you at the next one too.

Thanks as well to Leeuwenboschfontein and our hosts Pieter and Hermien.