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Stargazing and astrophotography at Bateleur Nature Reserve game farm

January 15, 2019

South Africa looks like an excellent place for doing astrophotography and observing the night skies. It is relatively more accessible for European amateur astronomers than Chile or Australia. Moreover it is located within the same time zone as Central and Eastern Europe.

Usually it should take no more than 16-18 hours (overnight flights) to get from Warsaw (Poland) to Johannesburg by airplane and a couple of hours more, by car, to finally reach Bateleur Narure Reserve which is located in Limpopo/Waterberg area. So with the departure from Warsaw at 6pm, we are usually getting to the farm next day at ca. 3pm being ready to start night observations or taking astronomy pictures by 6pm. Wouter Schreuders, who is running the farm, has been arranging for transportation from the airport to the farm so there was no need for us to drive on the left side of the road which is not natural thing for right side drivers like we are in Poland.

Indeed, it took as a few of years to arrange for facilities and equipment which are necessary for doing astrophotography or stargazing with the telescope. So far, with a great help from Wouter, we managed to install 6 rock solid piers at Stone Cottage building which we have been successfully using for equatorial and Alt-Az mounts on which we put our telescopes (with CCD cameras for astrophotography purposes). They could be removed and reinstalled again to protect wide animals.

Last August we even brought 12 inch Newtonian telescope to Bateleur for deep sky object observations which indeed proved to be a good performer under South African dark skies, especially that we put it on the equatorial platform (a guitar) constructed by a Polish engineer Leszek Jedrzejewski (website: http://lx-net.pl/eqn/eqn.html). We could observe planets like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uran and Neptune with high magnifications up to 500 times.

 

 

 

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