As promised, I took a drive down to Johannesburg to the National Military History museum where the annual ScopeX ATM fair was held. I listened to a talk, I watched the auction and the prize-giving, and strolled through the rows and rows of lovingly built telescopes arranged between the old tanks and aeroplanes. It was lovely, but I had to cut the visit short so that I could help my wife prepare for what must have been the world’s most extravagant 3rd birthday party (a subject for its own entire blog. Totally worth the effort, though). I can’t give a very meaningful report on the day, but there were a few highlights for me. First, I finally got to meet Neville Young, who was promoting his new book, Astronomy within Reach, along with a range of teaching tools he’s been selling for years under the StarWaders brand. After that I headed into the auditorium to hear a talk by Adrian Tiplady, SKA Africa’s site bid manager. Adrian talked at length about the SKA, explaining some basics of radio astronomy, and why the African site was a technically superior choice. He spoke about the scale of the project, talked about the benefits it will bring to Southern Africa, and how South African designed technology is already becoming standard equipment in radio telescopes around the globe. He was obviously very passionate about his job, and it was a pity he ran out of time and had to be cut short.
From there, I watched the auction (two commercial scopes were sold off by auction), and the prizegiving. I saw many famililar faces head up to collect their prizes, and they’re all in the attached slideshow.
Sadly, after that I only had time to walk a single ciruit of the grounds, photographing as many home-built telescopes as I could. I apologise in advance for the poor quality of many of these photos, but I only noticed the thick greasy film on the lens after I’d already gotten home. It all looks a lot more romantic than it really was!