Sunday, 26 August 2012

Scouts visit Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory

Saturday 25th August was a day of excitement for Harmelia Air Scouts going to the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory as located near Hartebeespoort Dam.

Scouts and parents met at the Scout Hall and departed by car at 15:30 On arrival Scouts were facinated by the size of the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) radio telescope.

Credit: M Gaylard / HartRAO

The evening started off with an introduction by HartRAO staff on how a Analemmatic Sundial works and also how the Scouts can make their own one. Detail on how to make one is also available using the following website link

Scouts and parents were then introduced to why we have day, night and the seasons; the position of Earth in Space ; how a satellite dish communication works (see left Scouts whisper at one dish and it was received clearly at the opposite dish) and then given a presentation on a range of astronomy and space-related subjects. Interesting to note was the amount of "space junk" left is space (nuts, bolts, pieces of old rockets, etc) that can cause serious damaged to working satellites currently in operation in space. To see for yourself visit

The 15 metre diameter radio telescope that was built in 2007, the 26 meter diameter radio telescope and their satellite "laser ranger" that shoots a laser beam into the sky towards passing satellites to gather information was then shown to all. Amazing was the laser beam shooting into the sky. If the satellite is able lock onto the beam then a signal is returned.The returned signal (together with satellite data information) is then detected by the radio telescope. The captured data is then stored for processing.

Credit: M Gaylard / HartRAO

The evening closed with some viewing of the moon using optical telescopes (one optical refractive and the other an optical reflective mirror).

Saturday, 25 August 2012

New in our "Interesting Articles" page

Mignet Flying Flea (an aircraft from the 1930's)

Focke Achgelis FA330 (an autogyro kite built in 1940's)