Cosmic Reconciliation * Hemelruim Versoening

For the past decade or so I have been part of an astronomy group, the Orion Observation Group. Our main mission is to inspire others to look and appreciate the night sky.We were invited by the Afrikaanse Taalmonument (Afrikaans Language Monument) which is affiliated to the South African Department of Arts and Culture to host their popular summer season Stargazing Picnics. Once a month we set up our gear to give the public a chance to experience the night sky through our telescopes.Give and Take: Through the years my participation at the Taalmonument in Paarl, has made me much more aware of our country’s cultural diversity and so I aimed to contribute towards building a bridge between South African culture and Astronomy. I decided that a good way of achieving this would be to choose themes for our Stargazing evenings that would not only inspire budding astromers but budding artists, writers, poets and performers in any genre.

Our themes aren’t just chosen at random. First of all I scrutinize the date to see whether it coïncides with a specific astronomical event. I scour the library’s bookshelves and internet for star-related material suitable for specific dates like Valentine’s or New Year’s day. Finding new themes has been almost just as much fun as stargazing. If I find inspiration in the title of a book, in song lyrics, poetry or art, I contact the author. Most are very appreciative and give me their blessing. Some just ignore me and then I have to resume my search.So far no-one has been rude! Afrikaans is a colourful language and lends itself well to slight twisting and tweeking of the original.By now I have a file of themes with lots of memories of every Stargazing Picnic at the Taalmonument.

Initially I had something completely different lined up for 16 Dec 2017 when it dawned on me that this was a very special South African holiday: the Day of Reconciliation/Versoeningsdag. Back to the drawing board.

Hemelruim/Constellations sort of jumped off the computer screen and into my lap. When I read the synopsis I knew I had found the most perfect theme. The play “Constellations” by Nick Payne was adapted by well-known South African director, Nico Scheepers. The Afrikaans text was a triumph and “Hemelruim” staged sold-out performances at Aardklop, the KKNK and Fugard Theatre.

Reviews read: Hemelruim was an amazing theatre experience on a galactic scale
It’s about one relationship,infinite possibilities,free will and friendship; it’s also about quantum multiverse theory, love, and honey

Nico Scheepers revealed: I tried to make the characters as real as possible as people, whichever universe they’re in, because I think it is a core soul that echoes throughout all these parallel universes, with intent and choice painted over that

The theme for the Stargazing Picnic at the Taal Monument on 16 December 2017 will be:
Hemelruim Versoening/ Cosmic Reconciliation

With this I hope I can inspired more South Africans to reconcile and bring parallel universes together and most of all to inspire others to look at the stars.

Thanks to Nico Scheepers for this wonderful inspiration.

Getting to know the Night Sky

Nov 2011

Getting to know the night sky is not much different from getting to know your neighbourhood, city, province or country. Some of us skip a few steps and venture farther to neighbouring countries or feel a real need for speed and travel right around the world. A select few have progressed past all of this and have become zero gravity junkies, living and working beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
In getting to know the night sky, you first visit Earth’s immediate neighbourhood – the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars, the  gas planets, the Sun and other objects of the solar system. Some skip these steps and venture to our second nearest star system,  Alpha,Beta and Proxima Centauri. Others explore the thousands of star clusters and nebulae between the millions and millions of stars that form our Milky Way Galaxy.
The ultimate thrill seekers search for galaxies outside our own, whizzing past the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which are visible to the naked eye and farther and  farther into space. A select few go for gold  and with the aid of “Extremely Very Large” telescopes see back in time, as far back as thirteen billion years and more, to where it all began.
Whichever adventure you embark on, there will be pros and cons.
You will either be constantly on the move or quite stationary. Reading road maps during the day is much easier than reading sky maps in the dark.
Discovering new places on Earth and in the night sky are equally thrilling. On daytime excursions you need to look respectable most of the time. On night sky adventures you need not fret if you have left your vanity case at home.
During the day you could get struck by a buck. Snakes are nocturnal.
Jet lag or lack of sleep are to be expected. You have the option of lugging along heavy baggage or travelling light.
Adverse atmospheric conditions could put a damper on any adventure.
Depression is a normal side-effect when you return to reality. This is a necessary condition which drives you to plan your next excursion.
Which destination will beckon? Plenty sunshine or plenty starshine?
Traffic, crowds, noise, queues or solitary stillness, with or without a few like-minded friends.
In my case, getting to know the night sky will most probably outweigh all other options…