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ScopeX 2008: The 7th ScopeX had a little extra!
by Lerika Cross

Another ScopeX came along on 24 May 2008 – the 7th in fact. New additions this year were the Camera Obscura, built by a group of enthusiasts, and 4 focused workshops aimed at the amateur sky gazer, the astrophotographer and those interested in photometry. It again was a fun day for those "working" on the day and for the ~ 1500 visitors.

Some of the highlights experienced by the ~ 1500 people who attended ScopeX 2008 include:

   * The ATMers enjoyed it and were pleasantly surprised to see an "out-of-towner" from Riversdale - Wim Filmater - walk away with the grand prize for his 12" portable scope flown-in from George. Read Chris Stewart's ATM report for more. Thank you Rodney, Julian, Keith, Percy and everyone who popped in and helped at the ATM stand
   * The talks – which started with Johan Smit presenting to the students his entertaining "How a telescope sees" and showing how to build a telescope in less than 5 minutes - were well attended. It was very pleasing to have Prof Block back as the key note speaker and he has not lost any of his magic since 2003. Also thank you Case Rijsdijk, Mark Comninos and Dr Pierre Cilliers from the HMO. Read Robert's Auditorium report for more. Thank you, Robert, for doing 8 hours in the Auditorium!
   * The many excellent entries for ATM and Astrophotography awards didn't make the job of the judges easy. Thank you Chris Stewart and Dave Blane for judging the ATM exhibits; Case Rijsdijk, Brett Edwards and Auke Slotegraaf for judging the astrophotos. See the winners below
   * Young and old attended and learned from the popular and noisy science shows by Experilab and some walked away with a lucky draw prize
   * Visitors inspected, had interesting talks and bought stuff at various stands:
         o Commercial telescopes and accessories and related equipment by Celestron, TelescopeShop, TelescopeSA and EridanusOptics
         o Books by Exclusive Books, Protea Boekhuis and the Planetarium
         o Radio astronomy by HartRAO who displayed a model of the SKA
         o Rocketry. The two associations joined forces this year and seem to enjoyed the day as much as the visitors did. Thanks for the smoke and noise with the static test fire of a rocket motor, guys!
   * The Star Party was lucky to have a beautiful clear sky, albeit nippy. Perfect for sky gazing. Groups were chatting and relaxing and long queues patiently waited to look through the scopes on the lawn. Someone was convinced a little photo of Saturn was pasted inside the scope.

And then there was a little extra this year which was nice:

   * Workshops in the Delville Wood Hall for amateurs by amateurs. These were well attended and favourable feedback was received. Thank you Auke, Oleg and Chris Middleton and Magda Streicher, President of ASSA. Thank you, Magda, for your enthusiasm and support of ScopeX
   * The Camera Obscura. It was fun to build and it was even more fun to hear the comments from the visitors; read all about it in the Camera Obscura Story. Offers for a name are still accepted ... seriously, submit your suggestion and who knows there may be a surprise waiting for you in future.

Some belated awards to three who considerably contributed to the day's success:

   * Hero of the Day award – unfortunately no prize – to Case Rijsdijk for saving and making Magda Streicher's day when he managed to get her presentation to work through the data projector.
   * Snappy Dresser award – no prize – to Auke Slotegraaf for donning his monk's garb making many people wonder why he's wearing it or just smiling because he did wear it.
   * Thankless Job of the Day award to Brian Fraser who manned the outside PA system from morning to dark and missed out on talks and workshops. The universe is fair; Brian won one of the raffle prizes.

A thank you also goes to the:

   * Help Desk volunteers who were answering questions, selling and giving away stuff, doing a sterling job, in no particular sequence: Luke Arnott, Claire Lee, Sharon Tait, Chris Penberthy, Catherine McKinnon, Gary Els, John Somersvine, Belinda Graham, Graham Mephius, Michael Caine, Dagmar Hubbard, Sue Jamieson and Atze Herder. Gary did manage to break his previous personal best of enrolling new members by enrolling 14 newbies!
   * Unika Kommando Voortrekkers who helped with manning the Camera Obscura and ATM exhibits and who made and delivered food parcels and kept dishing up nourishment until late
   * Learner mentors, Cetric and his 7 merry mentors who excellently guided and looked after the ~ 120 learners who had an educational and fun morning
   * Vernon Zwiers who gave up his time to come provide First Aid support

Finally, a big thank you to the ScopeX Commercial Sponsors (see the list below) for their kind donations used as prizes and giveaways: their donations made the day very special for many and through the raffle ticket sales help to defray costs not covered by ScopeX's non-Commercial Sponsor, SAASTA: thank you very much for your confidence in ScopeX!

Major John Keene of the Military Museum said about this year's show: "we are happy – you must be very happy as well?" Yes, we are happy - because ScopeX went well and because Dave Gordon is back.

PS: International Astronomy Day falls on 2 May 2009 but to avoid the Saturday of a long weekend, maybe ScopeX should be on 30 May 2009 (First Quarter Moon is on 31 May 2009)

 
 
 
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