Report: 17th SSP. (September 25-30, 2019)

So, SSP number 17 is done and dusted. The weather kept some people away but despite that, we had a good turnout.

Initially, we were quite nervous because the weather forecast did not look good at all and we feared a repeat of the September 2018 Star Party.

This was the weather forecast for Saturday seven days before the event. Not good at all,

So Auke came up with the brilliant idea of swopping things around on the programme. At the same time, we swopped Wim’s presentation from Saturday morning and evening to Friday evening, which also worked very well.

The adapted programme which was supposed to accommodate the clouds and light rain

Four days before the event the weather was looking better but still not what one wanted for a Star Party as you can see below. The rain had gone away but it was still going to be cloudy from early on Saturday evening.

The weather forecast for Saturday four days before the event was better than the earlier one, but still not good.

Eventually, the weather was very kind to us, unlike the previous September when a serious cold front had us all bundled up in coats, gloves and woolen caps. Click here to see what I am talking about. The weather was actually good throughout the week, contrary to what people who had canceled, had thought. On Tuesday (24th) it was overcast with a few small open patches every now and again. On Wednesday (25th) we had clear skies although the seeing wasn’t as good as it can be at Leeuwenboschfontein. The seeing improved from about 01:30. Thursday (26th) was also clear and the seeing better than on Wednesday but once again improving after 01:00. Friday (27th) was also clear (Three nights in a row? Wow!!) but the seeing was once again not perfect but probably the best of the week. Saturday (28th) was clear up to about 00:30 when it clouded over and almost everyone went to bed. The hopefuls that hung around till about 14:00 (Marius and Willem were among them) were rewarded for the patience by clear skies till dawn with good seeing. Sunday clouded over and we had rainy weather from about 10:00 with quite strong gusts of wind and it was partially cloudy throughout the night.

The weather is crucial for good viewing and observing but our Saturday programme is equally important to fulfill the requirements of being a Star Party as opposed to merely an observing weekend. Our speakers once again did themselves proud.

Wim Filmalter’s Friday evening talk on the basics of using a camera to photograph the night sky. was very well received. Several members of the audience later commented to me that they had been able to identify very basic things they were doing incorrectly. His talk was nicely supplemented by the practical session he presented later in the evening.

Danièl Groenewald’s talk on Mars and its potential as a future home for Earthlings was well received. It is a pity her daughter became ill and she and her husband had to leave early to find medication for her.

Jay, Wendy, Pamela, and Christine acquited themselves very well in their short talk tasks. They each gave the audience a peek into their own private astronomy journeys and illustrated how different people, from different walks of life, with different career paths, found a niche in amateur astronomy.

Auke’s presentation on astronomy photographs was very well compiled and presented. He gave all of us an excellent overview of the scope that astronomy-related photography covers.

Here is a collection of photographs giving you an idea of what you missed.

The latest addition to our posters (thanks to Auke) to remind everyone how young our Solar System is in Galactic Years.
Just to remind everyone that the SSP has not been around forever.
Our StarPeople poster and Clemence’s addition to our display collection
Our eye-catching StarPeople pull-up banner and a reminder of how little the public knows about what’s up in the sky.
The model display-table against the backdrop of some of our banners.
Telescope Field 1
Telescope Field 2
Telescope Field 3
Telescope Field 4
Telescope Field 5
Auke displaying his talents at creating confusion (otherwise known as magic).
There are 3.88889 persons in this image.
Relaxed SSP attendees in the braai-lapa
Braais are hard work – for some!
A connoisseur of the Fruit of the Vine
Alan’s latest SALT model is taking shape.
For those of you who did not take the time to take a close look at Alan’s Mars Habitat Model, you missed something exceptional.
At night the telescope area was a hive of activity as one can see by the traces of the red lights.
This is a 30-second exposure (ISO 1000) presented in greyscale. The bright object at the bottom center is Jupiter and Scorpio’s tail is just above the trees on the left. Sagittarius is slightly left of the center of the photograph.
Snorre the Astronomical Cat got himself stuck up this tree twice over the weekend after being chased by Hermien’s dogs. Each time I had to find a ladder, climb up and fetch him down.
Here you have the entire group that attended the 17th Southern Star Party. If you weren’t there make sure you attend the 18th SSP in February 2020.

That’s it till February 2020! Please diarize the dates from the 19th to the 24th and join us at Leeuwenboschfontein.