16th Southern Star Party
Leeuwenboschfontein from 03-08 April 2019
People often ask whether we really need rules at an event like the SSP and the answer is unfortunately that we do. We need them, not because the attendees are a wild lawless crowd hell-bent on creating mayhem, but because we are people and not robots. As humans and individuals, we exhibit a wide range of preferences, character quirks, and behavioral differences, unlike preprogrammed robots that can all be made to do everything in exactly the same way.
Things to keep in mind :
- cell phone reception at Leeuwenboschfontein is non-existent.
- there are several wifi hotspots with internet access but tokens must be purchased at the office.
- the nearest shops and a pharmacy are 35km away in Touw’s River, on a gravel road.
- each campsite and house has a braai drum. We ONLY supply wood for the Saturday braai.
- purchase wood at the office for personal use but remember that ALL fires must be out by 17:00.
- bring a fold-up table and camping chair for use at your telescope.
- please attend the presentations/talks – there is always something interesting in the talks/presentations and it is also an excellent place to socialize.
- the Telescope Field is on the lawn in front of De Oude Opstal. This area MUST be kept dark and you will incur the combined wrath of all the observers if you use white lights or too bright red lights there. You may leave your telescope there during the day but remember to cover it properly.
- if there are any astrophotographers we will designate an area for them to set up their equipment. Astrophotography always produces lots of light-spill which destroys the night vision of the observers, so it makes sense to separate the two groups.
- please remember to bring along any and all medication you may require. Nothing will be available on site.
- the coffee shop will cater to those who do not wish to prepare their own meals. Arrangements must please be made on arrival with Hermien at the office. A set menu might also be available.
- important phone numbers: Montagu Hospital, c/o Hospital & Church Streets (023-614-8102), Worcester MediClinic, 67 Fairbairn Street (023-348-1500), ER24 Ambulance (082-058-6716).
General site rules
The most important rule is to always take other people into consideration, that way everyone will have a wonderful time and enjoy the SSP. However, from experience, we know that one general rule does not suffice so here’s a comprehensive coverage of the topic.
- Take care of yourself and your belongings, relax and have fun!
- Stay on the roads. No shortcuts through the veld with your vehicle or bicycle.
- Do not break branches off trees, it disfigures them and they grow slowly.
- Buy firewood and don’t use dry material from the veld or tree branches.
- No fires anywhere except in the braai drums or in the Lapa.
- Only sleep in designated camping areas or in the houses.
- Do not exchange furniture between houses and do not use it outside the houses.
- No loud music at any time.
- No dogs of any size, colour or breed are allowed by the Leeuwenboschfontein Management.
- No camping in the Lapa! It is for general use and not for exclusive personal or private use which will exclude the rest of the campers
As amateur astronomers, we want to see the celestial lights and not artificial lights. At the Southern Star Party, you will very likely be spoken to in an unfriendly tone of voice if you cause observers a loss of dark adaptation.
- All white lights or very bright red lights at night are taboo! The Southern Star Party is held as far away as possible from major towns to enjoy the dark sky at night. To fully appreciate the night sky your eyes have to be dark adapted and any light from a torch, cell phone, camera flash, camera LCD display or any other bright light source ruins that adaptation. It takes 30 minutes to re-adapt!
- The use of head-lamps, as typically sold for camping, after dark is strongly discouraged as they are way too bright and most of them cycle through a white light setting when switched on in any case.
- No fires to be lit after 16:00 and all fires to be out by 17:00.
- No white light after sunset. A very dim red light is all you need at night once you are dark adapted. This applies to the camping area as well as the telescope area. All houses must keep their curtains drawn and shade all lights used inside. Beware of light-spill when doors are opened!
- If you want to use your camera outside the designated “Astrophotography” area, switch off your LCD display or cover it when you have to use it. A black towel, black t-shirt or a jacket can be pulled over the camera and your head to prevent the irritating light spill.
- No cars may be driven with their headlights on in the proximity of the observing area between sunset and sunrise. If you intend leaving during the night park your car some way away from the observing area and walk to the site. Please, do not activate your car alarm during the night. Switch off all interior vehicle lights and remember that your reverse lights are blindingly white, so park in such a way that you do not first have to reverse when you leave. If your boot light cannot switch off, “red proof” it with red cellophane or remove the bulb.
- Very bright red lights are also detrimental for your dark adaption, so keep it dim. Use a simple cheap torch with layers of red cellophane taped to the front (you can also coat the bulb with red nail varnish). If you can see your red light on your star maps during the daytime it’s too bright.
Green laser pointers are excellent tools for pointing out stars and constellations, and for use as finders to locate deep sky objects with your telescope. They are also potentially dangerous. Make sure you comply with the relevant registration and licensing requirements for your laser. Bright green lasers can affect your night vision and show up in astro-images. Use them sparingly.
- Keep it 5mW or below
- Never point it at people, aircraft, animals or reflective surfaces
- Be aware of obstacles such as trees, stationary vehicles, masts, and power pylons
- Warn people if you are going to point it in their direction
- Use only it when needed
- Stand still while using it and don’t wave it about. It is a pointer, not a lightsaber!
- Keep it out of the hands of children
Please note: The Laser Safety Officer can request that you abide by these and other relevant laser rules. If you do not comply, he/she may take your laser for safekeeping and return it upon your departure.