16th Southern Star Party

  • 23 June 2023

From 16 to 18 June 2023, the 16th Southern Star Party took place in Groß Barmen.

Over 60 participants took this opportunity to learn about astronomy and be dazzled by Namibia’s night sky.

As the planets would only become visible in the early morning hours, telescopes, in all forms and sizes, would set up near the campsite and aim at various star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.

On Saturday, after a late breakfast, the event was officially opened by amateur astronomer Alex Arnold and Ruth Moldzio, CEO of the Namibia Scientific Society. This was followed by a talk by amateur astronomer Lutz von Dewitz, titled Star Gazing 101. Participants were shown the ecliptic movements of the Earth and neighbouring planets as well as being reminded of how small Earth actually is compared to other known stars and planets. As a special treat a copy of the  “southern cross watch” was handed out, an ingenious way of being able to tell the time in absence of an actual watch.

Afterwards, Dr Sisco Auala, a Namibian tourism researcher with more than 20 years of experience in tourism development and community empowerment, held a presentation titled Namibia’s Indigenous Astronomy.  The presentation focused on the people living in the Nyae Nyae constituency, the Ju/’Hoansi and their stories around the stars.

The participants gathered again at the observing site from 3.30 pm at which opportunity, Lutz von Dewitz referred about the sun. Through special solar telescopes, guests could observe the sun with its eruptions, sun spots and protuberances. Simultaneously, all those interested had the opportunity to take a closer look at the various telescopes in daylight to understand how they operate.

Saturday night, the conditions would prove to be near perfect for observing the butterfly star cluster, Omega Centauri, Eta Carina Nebula and Herschels Jewelrybox amongst others. Alex Arnold and Lutz von Dewitz were readily available to answer all questions on various stars and planets, including their origin and demise.

Several participants took this opportunity to take photos of the ever-spectacular Milky Way or even one or another nebula.

A special Thank you goes out to Alex Arnold and Lutz von Dewitz for taking the time to introduce newbies to Namibia’s night sky as well as enabling amateur astronomers a chance to exchange their knowledge. Thank you also to NWR as well as Roof of Africa for their assistance in making this event a success.

Last but surely not least a special thank you goes out to Eberhard von Grumbkow as well as Wolf-Peter Hartmann, two of the founders of this event. Thank you for having a grand idea as well as supporting it for the 16th time.

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