Mountain Sanctuary Park 2012

About two hours of driving on the national highway, away from the Witwatersrand, the hustle and bustle of life ever on the run, we found ourselves driving on a very deep, soft, sandy road strewn  unevenly with bumps of rocks. Our van was jam-packed with telescopes, tent and clobber, for what was going to be a longed dreamed of warm weekend getaway. Others would be before us or arrive later, slipping, sticking. Caravans swinging along, but we all had one thing in mind. Get there for Stars sake!

That’s it, about eighteen or nineteen telescopes with their owners and their families arrived that hot Friday afternoon to setup camp and settle in for a weekends viewing.

The sun, a red-golden ball sank behind the mountains in the west and a search for Saturn was on. The disappointment came when around 10pm. without warning , cloud took over and wiped out the stars and all we could see. With many cell clicks, the weather  report revealed : cloud until 6am.Saturday. All that remained for the night was hot chocolate, visit, chat and the only sleep for the weekend.

Though the weather remained windy and cold for Saturday. There was a Park of activity. Walking, Hiking, Moon Scope building and learning about the Universe for children and those who were interested or, just lazing about for those taking a well-earned break.

As evening drew, Vincent Nettman, the resident astronomer at Maropeng, arrived and opened the evenings viewing to all the Park visitors. It was a most interesting, vividly produced talk that held all listeners and viewers spell-bound.

The night progressed with red lights bobbing up and down the grassy slope, tent to tent. The hum and the burr of automated telescopes as the astro-photographers clicked off their photographic interests, long past the night calls of jackals and the bark of disturbed baboons. Only dawn put a stop to it all and tired, but happily repleted astronomers returned to clatter of polluted civilization.