Friday, March 4, 2011

In the still of the night...

Orion's Belt

We have just returned from a fantastic evening out. It is the most perfect evening in the Mother City, not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind.

Just 13km from the City Centre, we had the pleasure of walking up through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to a slope where some astronomers were waiting for us with their telescopes. Below us, the city lights lit up the horizon. Behind us, the mountain was silhouetted against the dark night sky and the stars above glittered like jewels. The cool night air was refreshing after a hot, late summers day.
The astronomers were very knowledgeable and were able to point out the various constellations.To the northwest, Orion's Belt was hovering just above the mountain, and we saw the nebula or star nursery through the telescope, an amazing sight! Below it we saw the red giant star, Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull.
Sirius, the brightest night star was seen and the Southern Cross with it's two pointers hung above the southeast horizon. A truly amazing sight was the "Jewel Box" inside the Southern Cross. It glittered with an array of colours and brightness. I was amazed by how much could be seen that we just don't see with the naked eye.
The children delighted in lying on their backs, gazing at the stars and spotting shooting stars and satellites. A worth while evening out and something truly different!

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