Morning Person, Evening Person or Night Owl

April 2014

IMG_7584-bSo often when I ask people whether they have seen a specific bright star, I get the answer oh no, I am not a morning person or oh no, that is long past my bedtime. Well I am afraid you have no excuse now. Jupiter is shining bright towards the north after sunset with Mars, the Moon and then Saturn following from the east. I would say three planets and the Moon before bedtime is very good going. Even though Jupiter sets just around midnight, Saturn, Mars and the Moon are putting on a splendid display to entertain night owls until the early hours of the morning when dazzling Venus comes gliding in from the east to herald the day. For the next week or so even Mercury will be visible low on the eastern horison at dawn. Continue reading

International Dark Sky Places

March 2014

OrionNow would it not be absolutely wonderful if Betty’s Bay could be declared an International  Dark Sky Place? It certainly has all the potential to become one and not such a difficult goal to achieve either.
First of all we would have to implement a community-wide lighting code. Now how difficult could that be?
As set in the International Dark Sky Association Guidelines, we would have to promote responsible lighting and set an example to surrounding communities, promote eco-tourism, protect human health, nocturnal habitats and public enjoyment of the night sky.
Betty’s Bay’s  lighting code would have to adhere to the following: Fully-shielded or  full cutoff  standard for all lighting fixtures over 3000  lumens  initial  lamp  output.  Is that sounding too technical? In other words we would not be allowed to project our lighting heavenwards and in all directions, onto our neighbour’s property or flood the fynbos.
Restrictions would have to be placed on the total amount of unshielded lighting for an area of certain size with the issue of over-lighting to be taken seriously.
A wide range of community organizations would have to support the initiative – even the electricity suppliers.
How amazing it would be if the BBRA would support such an initiative!
If Betty’s Bay were to become an International Dark Sky Place, it would be allowed to use logos like ” First South African IDA Dark Sky Community”
Even if Betty’s Bay never receives this international recognition, there is no reason why we could not retain and preserve the beautiful night sky. Our skies are darker than the surrounding communities. We are an example. Educators are in abundance and I have noticed that Betty’s Bay has some of the most enthusiastic folk when it comes to protecting this area.
I had my telescope out recently and standing out in the dark, I thought of all the kids that are growing up without seeing the stars….and I wondered, how can one live without being able to see the stars?
Oh yes, I almost forgot – I love promoting public enjoyment of the night sky!