Stargazing - Helpful hints and stuff.

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Carole
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African Night skies

Unread post by Carole »

A few years ago while we were in Lower Sabie camp, we saw one of the most awesome sights that we have ever seen in our 32 years in Africa. The sky was ablaze with stars - and as we looked up it was as if we were being pulled upwards into the dome. The stars actually reached down and touched the horizon. Two of our family members were with us, and remarked that they would never ever forget such a tremendous sight. We have only ever seen this once and it really was awesome. Has anybody else ever experienced anything like this where the stars appeared to touch the earth :?:
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Meg
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Unread post by Meg »

Hi Carole,

Awesome indeed! Actually, it's a good indication of light pollutino (or lack thereof) how far down to the horizon you can see stars. If you think it was awesome in KNP, try the Kalahari or the Karoo :D
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Unread post by Meandering Mouse »

Sutherland is the place to be.
Karoo National Park would be the closest.
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Josh. W
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Unread post by Josh. W »

The Night Skies are fantastic in the Waterberg (eg. Marakele) but NOTHING beats skies when at an altitude of over 3 000m, must be the crisp, freezing(-10'C) air. Best sky lately must be just outside Golden Gate, spectacular, including a rainbow at night :wink: interesting and beautiful!
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Stargazing - Helpful hints and stuff.

Unread post by JenB »

I'm still a dust cloud when it comes to stargazing but I've always been interested in what is beyond. Please share any tips and helpful info with myself and other dust clouds so we too can enjoy the hobby? What can be better than listening to the sounds of the African bust while watching the stars? :D

My tip:
Stellarium an excellent night sky program which is a free download from the web. You can set your location and time and it shows you the sky in real time, you can also go forward and back. Shows you constellations with star names, planets, nebulae ect.
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nightjar
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Best night sky viewing

Unread post by nightjar »

Where is your favourite place to stargaze in SAN Parks?
I was really amazed at the impressive display of stars on show at Talamati. It adds a whole new dimension to a visit to Kruger.
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Re: Stargazing - Helpful hints and stuff.

Unread post by Betelgeuse »

Stellarium sounds so 8) 8) 8) ...
Will wait till I get to a DSL line though before I download :whistle:

We have been checking out the South African Astronomical Observatory's website for star maps & printed them out every month - the monthly updates come with a description of what's where when & a bit of interesting info.

Alternatively go to their homepage http://www.saao.ac.za" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, click on the "Public info" tab; a drop down menu will appear, click on "sun, moon & stars. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the download options.

In addition you can also view the Johannesburg planetarium's website & download starmaps from there at http://www.planetarium.co.za" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I received the Sky Guide, Africa South 2009, Astronomical handbook for southern Africa, Astronomical Soceity of southern Africa as a gift. (a very 8) 8) 8) gift!!) It contains very good info about monthly events, the sun/moon/planets/deep-sky observing/basic observing skills/astronomy in southern Africa/useful websites etc.

A stargazing tip: If you don't have fancy telescopes & stuff - use your binoculars/spotting scope. You'll be surprized at how many more stars you can see.

Now is a good time for evening stargazing since the moon only rises after midnight rendering a dark sky for approximately 6 hours.

:hmz: me thinks me need to chair and go sit outside under the stars now...Ciao!!
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Re: Best night sky viewing

Unread post by Betelgeuse »

On a drive at Punda Maria!! (Okay I might be biased :twisted: )
There's no light pollution from settlements here. I love to stop during a drive & switch all the lights off on the vehicle as well as the engine. While on a drive I can also select an open spot as there are quite a lot of large trees (& a hillside) in camp which hinder the view.

:hmz: thinking...on top of Dzundzwini hill...(I wish!)

I have fond memories of sitting around a small camp fire at Marakele's delapidated bush camp underneath the stars while on a course. It's at the base of the mountain & I remember a full moon rising from behind the cliffs...

I haven't stayed at Talamati yet - mental note made to go & check it out!
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.
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christo
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Re: Best night sky viewing

Unread post by christo »

Most of the smaller camps (not on the border of Kruger) gives you an impressive display on a clear night.

I just love the view from all.

I sometimes love winter more, less cloud cover, less leaves on trees to hinder the sighting of stars and less snakes to step on when my eyes are fixed on the stars.
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Re: Best night sky viewing

Unread post by restio »

Nossob in KTP is amazing when the generator's off at night. *sigh* Augrabies is great too.
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Re: Stargazing - Helpful hints and stuff.

Unread post by jaapvandijk »

a real obvious point is keep watching :shock: (watching).

keep :shock: over the weeks, months and year. keep in touch with what you have seen and what you have learned. in may we started off with the Southern Cross, now that one is gone and Orion came in its place.
So keep watching over time as the constellations (seem) to move across the sky. That way you will get a 'feeling' for the movement and position of the different constellations, moon cycle, planet movement etc.

dont do only stargazing in the bush, but back at home as well!

As said an obvious point, but might be good to restate..
Watching the slow flow of the river. A continues movement of water down towards the ocean. Like blood flowing through a vein, keeping the body alive.
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Re: Best night sky viewing

Unread post by Batsman »

The nightsky in Richtersfeld NP is amazing.

We haven't stayed at Kokerboomkloof but especially at Potjiesprom and all other camps without artificial light pollution it's amazing.
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Satellite Spotting

Unread post by hobbit »

One of the things I enjoy when in my Marloth Park home is to have a sundowner on our terrace, watching the sky darken and the incredible sight of the milky way come out.
Whilst waiting to hear the first lion call, I often spend time lazing back on a lounger and looking for satellites passing overhead.

For a half hour or so after dusk it is possible to spot satellites as they are still in sunshine, so you can see what looks like a small star moving quickly across the sky.
Some of these are real satellites, earth sensing, communications etc.
Others can be old rocket stages, large amounts of junk, and sometimes you can see the Hubble telescope or the International Space Station.
If you know when and where to look you can even see the toolbag dropped by the astronaut on the last Hubble repair mission, although you will need binoculars for that.
Most of the time they are steady, but occasionally one will be variable, sometimes disappearing altogether. This is usually because the object is spinning or tumbling in its orbit, with different parts having different reflectivity.

There are several websites that can predict what you can see from your location at a given time and date.
I use the following:
http://www.heavens-above.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A fascinating site - lots of info about all sorts of things.

Now who is going to start a list of satellites spotted :D

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pepperjuice
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Re: Satellite Spotting

Unread post by pepperjuice »

Could this be a Satellite. Top right.
One of my first attempts at Star Trails.

In East Africa/Equator we spotted Satellites quite often.

Image
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deefstes
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Re: Satellite Spotting

Unread post by deefstes »

Hi pepperjuice. Yes, that looks very much like a satellite.
I wouldn't be surprised if it's an Iridium Flare.
What was the exact date and location of that photograph?

Awesome pic by the way!
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