This past weekend clear summer skies opened doors to the annual scopeX expo that saw hundreds of enthusiastic stargazers fill the iconic Military history museum in Johannesburg.
The ScopeX Expo represents a rare and perhaps unique experience that sees a niche group of astronomy clubs and institutions come together to share their work with the public. The expo features a rich assortment of talks, workshops and displays. This public outreach initiative is designed to promote interest in astronomy, telescope making, astrophotography and related disciplines within South Africa.
Besides having stood a chance to win some of astronomy most valuable and sought after pieces of equipment that is worth thousands of rands, one of the most anticipated activities on the program was the handing over of two telescopes that were donated by ScopeX on behalf of Jean-Pierre Grootaerd, the founder of Stars Shine for everyone (Sterren Schitteren Voor Iedereen ) in Belgium, to two deserving organisations that would use the equipment for the benefit of the pupils.
SSVI is an initiative of amateur telescope making group of the public observatory Armand Pien in Ghent Belgium together with the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Ghent university. The SSVI promotes ATM, astronomy and spaceflight to young people. Their reach is global with emphasis on developing countries and people lesser means, particularly girls, young children and those with disabilities.
The telescopes bear the signatures of some of Belgium’s famous astronauts, President of the IAU, the Dean and Rector from the university of Ghent, weather forecaster, ESA and NASA astronauts.
Brain Waves Development and The Girls Guide of South Africa became the two successful organisations that will now be the keepers of these one of a kind equipment. The telescopes will be utilized to introduce young people to the wonders of the universe.
“I cannot begin to imagine the kind of impact this will have on young school kids we work with in the township. The telescope with serve as a great introduction to the world of astronomy and I hope it plants a seed of curiosity in their minds that will lead them to pursue astronomy as a future career.” says, Lesego Masethe, the founder of Brain waves development.
The event, propelled by a stretch of beautiful skies ended with a viewing of the stars for those who managed to stay up till late to witness the beauty of the blanket of stars that linger in our night skies.
The telescope was bestowed with signatures of well recognized astronauts, deans and presidents.
Rik Van De Walle (Rector Ghent University)
Dirk Frimout (First Belgain astronaut, Euro space society)
Scott Kell (NASA astronaut)
Ewine Van Dishoek (President IAU)
Frank De Winne (2nd Belgain astronaut, European Astronaut Centre)
Prof Herwig De Jonghe (Dean faulty Science university Ghent)
Andre Kuipers (Dutch astronauts)
Kees de jager (Dutch astronauts)
Anne Lee Fisher (NASA astronaut, first mother in space)
Frank Deboosere (Weather forecaster)
Article by Lesego Masethe