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Star Gazing

5 Oct

Star Gazing

Look Up

Over 25 000 years ago, the KhoiSan or Bushmen people who inhabited this region knew that time is in the stars. They had a remarkably extensive knowledge of the stars and wove this wisdom into the rhythm of their lives. The 19th-century scholar Dr Wilhelm Bleek, who studied their languages and analysed their legends, found evidence that the Bushmen had observed the movements of the planet Jupiter and its four main moons with the naked eye. These Bushman legends date back to before Galileo made his observations with his first telescope.

Like the earliest people, we are still awed by the mystery of the stars, planets and distant galaxies. Today, the extraordinary clarity of Sutherland’s cloudless, pollution-free night skies and its high elevation above sea level makes it a prime star-gazing destination and the perfect site for the South African Astronomical Observatory.

The observatory houses the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.
Based on the design of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas, it consists of a primary, hexagonal mirror 11 metres wide made up of 91 individual hexagonal mirrors, each one meter wide and weighing about 100kg.

This great eye probing the universe is sensitive enough to pick up the light of a single candle on the moon – but its main job is to scan deep space, witnessing the birth and death of planets, gazing into distant galaxies and recording the scale and age of the universe, stars, galaxies and quasars billions of light years away.

The telescope cost about US$30 million, of which South Africa contributed a third and international partners the balance.

Please call Juliana at: 023 5712 436 for bookings
Daytimes are as follow:  10:30 and 14:30

At the “Day visit” tour, you will be able to see the big telescope. to see the instrument, but NO STARGAZING.

Amateur star-gazers can set up their own telescopes at the nearby VISITOR CENTRE. 


The facility is open to the public with four evening tours a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings) at the visitors centre. 


FOR MORE INFO Please feel free to contact Alta at:  076 909 8635 – Discover Sutherland. OR 023 5712 436 SAAO, for bookings.

A tour guide will lead the evening tour of the galaxies with a 14” and 16” telescopes(90 minutes tours) tours available. Booking are essential to avoid disappointment.

Contact the Observatory on +27 (0) 23 5712 436 or email suthbookings@saao.ac.za.
Rates are R80.00 per person/daytour – Evening tour : R100.00 per person from 1 April 2019

The emergency number is 076 9000 308 (in case lines are down). Visit http://www.saao.ac.za/about/visting/sutherland/ for updated information.



Alternatively contact Jurg Wagener (082 556 9589)  at ‘Sterland’, a privately owned and managed establishment.
For a stargazing experience just 1.3 km outside of town. Jurg will treat you to a utmost experience at Sterland . A private Stargazing experience. 
Bookings for this activity are still essential to avoid disappointment.

The show at Sterland starts @ (20:00 – 22:00 January – April), (19:00 – 21:00 May) ,(18:00 – 20:00 June – July),( 19:00 – 21:00 August) and (20:00 – 22:00 September – December.)  The show last for about two hours. The stargazer is first treated with an indoor presentation on a three meter big screen explaining all the constellations and sizes in the universe.

Inside the dam are numerous posters of Astronomy and books to be read. After that the stargazers are taken outside to the Muisbos Amphi theatre and first treated with an explanation of how to find South, with the aid of the Magellan Clouds, Southern Cross and other stars. They make use of a very powerful laser so that each stargazer can see what they are talking about.

All the relevant constellations, stars, planets and objects to be observed are then explained before looking through the eye piece of the telescope.

At present they make use of 6 x 11 inch (280mm) Celestron Go-To telescopes, each with its own GPS. Each telescope is operated by a knowledgeable person. Every stargazer gets enough time to enjoy the object to be seen.
The show normally lasts two hours at the cost of R150-00/R200.00 per person.

Alternatively contact Sutherland Planetarium for their night stargazing with their 11 inch and 14 inch telescopes. 

Largest privately owned Telescope in Sutherland. 14 inch Celestron.
At daytime during the Planetarium digital shows, they will show you the constellations in the full dome presentation, as if you are at night under the stars, with the technology you will understand the constellations a bit better, with pictures, at their night stargazing. Most welcome.

The professional guide at Sutherland Planetarium will also do a lazer show and theory outside about the constellations etc. And the telescope stargazing with you at night.

They will treat you with all the pleasures and experiences of our beautiful night sky at Sutherland Planetarium.

Bookings are essential please to avoid disappointment. They can only fit in 30 persons at a time and that everyone can have enough true stargazing time and enjoy the most of their experience all the time.

From 7 pm (19:00) winter times and 8pm (20:00) in the summer months
The tour is more or less 1 and half hours. 

Warm drinks are available at the coffee shop during the stargazing and warm blankets and a cushion are provided to each person doing the stargazing to stay warm and enjoy the tour.
Please contact the planetarium booking line at: 078 603 0058  (calls or whatsapp or text please )for bookings to avoid disappointment.

Stargazing at Blesfontein Guest Farm
An alternative stargazing opportunity is available at Blesfontein Guest Farm.
Blesfontein has it’s own observatory with its own telescope,(12” Dobsonian) telescope where Nicol take guests stargazing at night. It is his passion for more than 20 years and you will truely enjoy and the skies are more clear outside on the farm.

Do enquire when you book with Blesfontein.

The cost is R100 per person. Please book to avoid disappointment. *Guests who stay on the farm will not be charged for stargazing as this is included in the experience.

But everybody else are also very welcome to join in every evening! (Weather permitting.) Do note there is only one guide and therefore it is important to book in advance.
Contact Blesfontein:
Contact Nicol and Marina van der Merwe
Tel:  +27(0)23 5712 631
Cell:  +27 (0)83 444 5810

At Sutherland planetarium you will enjoy an hour show of an audio visual extraordinary extravaganza experience that you will remember.
Bookings are essential to avoid disappointment.
Please call the planetarium at: 078 603 0058 or text or whatsapp please.

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