Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Sound Of SIlence

 
Karoo National Park

So here we are in the Karoo National Park, at the tail end of our three weeks away. So nice that we have such a big family - always someone to stay with all over the country. We began with a week with one sister-in-law on the East coast - a place called East London.  That was where we had the bee stings. Then onto the Natal South Coast - four days with good friends who go way back. That was lots of nice eating, jawing and sight-seeing. Then a long journey through the Transkei (all day), (now part of South Africa and much improved since apartheid days), although one still has to watch out for livestock dawdling across the highway at every turn. Further down the coast we then spent a week at the beautiful Hole-in-the-Wall with more family. Then another six-hour trip to the middle of the country for an overnight stop at a nephew's farm and now this huge park. Our chalet is at the end of the line with a great view of the mountain and scrubland (zebras, antelope mostly - and 22 pairs of black eagles). The thing is  - compared to our other stops - it is amazingly quiet here. It is night-time, we are sitting outside, sipping our drinks, not talking, totally calm and relaxed, watching the crescent moon and the North star. You can hear a pin drop. Well, not quite. The wind is blowing relentlessly but we have our backs to it. The info says that Beaufort West (the nearest town) holds the record for the strongest wind in the country - about 120 mph. I can believe it: I can hear it whistling round in my wine glass. Soon we will eat in the restaurant, dinner and breakfast, then home at last. Another six-hour drive. About 500 miles. Such a big country, such a good trip, such good company.

8 comments:

  1. How did your bee sting remedy end up? Do your finger joints feel better?

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    1. Yes - much improvement all round. My brother-in-law had six stings in each knee and now walks much better, my sister-in-law's thumb joints are improved and my finger is improving. We are all going to continue with the treatment. (I've now put photos on that post).

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    2. NB My GP knows about the bee treatment - the theory so far is that it encourages a huge rush of blood to the area which brings all kinds of healing things with it. They are not sure about the action of the poison.

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  2. So nice to travel and then go home.

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  3. Sounds like a very lovely trip.

    You know I have to be a pain in the ass. North Star? Is there a star in the southern hemisphere that is called the North Star? The North Star of the northern hemisphere, Polaris, Alpha Ursae Minoris, sits at +89 degrees 16 minutes Declination. That is, it is less than a degree from being directly overhead at the North Pole. As such no matter where you are at in the northern hemisphere, Polaris sits due north. However at the Equator, Polaris sits right on the northern horizon and it is below the horizon in the southern hemisphere. It can't be seen, because it is literally on the other side of the world.

    There is no equivalent South Star although the honor sometimes is bestowed on Sigma Octantis but it is barely visible and it is over a degree off from the -90 declination that a true South Star would require.

    Any how it sounds like you had a very lovely trip.

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    1. Blinded by science as usual. Hubby says I can look up the name of the star on some or other app relevant to our skies... I suppose I am confused by the night sky I used to look at when I grew up in England.

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    2. Hmmm.....seems the bright star I saw might be Mercury or Venus.

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    3. I set my astronomy app for my iMac, Sky Safari, to Cape Town. I set played with the dates and time until I saw a crescent moon.

      On May 21 2015, at 8 PM the moon and Venus were aligned closely and would have set (gone below the horizon) approximately at 8:35 PM. There could be an hour error for daylight savings time. (I have the option checked for DST but it says it is in standard time, oh wait I am forgetting you guys are in autumn Is DST applicable?).

      May 22 at 8 PM the moon is half way between Venus (further west) and Jupiter. Venus sets again at 8:35 PM and the moon sets at 9:40 PM, Jupiter at 11 PM.

      On May 23 at 8 PM the moon is slightly west of Jupiter. Venus is close to the horizon. Venus sets at about 8:32 PM, the moon sets at 10:35 and Jupiter at 11.

      These set times are approximate. The app uses a graphic of a horizon, rather than a true theoretical horizon line. Your horizon at Karoo will be different than the graphic used in the app which is actually an island in San Francisco's bay.

      This is actually a very nice app. It is available at the Apple app store. I have an older iMac version that was only $4.99, but the newer version for iMac appears to be $9.99. It apparently it is available for IOS as well:

      http://skysafariastronomy.com/products/skysafari/

      You can buy expensive versions as well but I wouldn't recommend that for casual use. The one I have serves my purposes well.

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