The West Rand Astronomy Club will be hosting a star party on July 29 - 31 at the mountain sanctuary. This is an awesome venue with mountain bike trails and traditional rock climbing for the adventurous as well as rock pools for the lazy Sunday afternoons.
Details here: http://www.wrac.org.za/home/images/MSP/mspinvite.pdf
Mountain Sanctuary: http://www.mountain-sanctuary.co.za/
You have to book a spot in the star party camping site at the mountain sanctuary itself well before hand. Not much luxury accommodation but plenty of camping.
Also on the 15’th June it’s Lunar eclipse time, WRAC will be at “Clint’s Place” in Krugersdorp map here http://www.wrac.org.za/home/images/clint/clint.jpg Coincidently the 16th is a public holiday
All welcome to both events even if you don’t have a telescope. You’ll get a chance to look through the telescopes there which is a great way to decide what to buy if you’re in the market for one.
If anybody here is going you may be interested to know the activity schedule for next weekend’s star party has been released: http://bit.ly/q4MN2Z
FB page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155252531212036
I had an entertaining weekend at the star party. I got some science done and uncovered a whole lot of WOO in the astronomy club.
All the big telescopes attracted many of the campers at Mountain Sanctuary campsite. Our chairman was giving a group of them the typical talk about the stars and planets etc, then his topic changed to the moon landings and that they were fake
Naturally I corrected and things went downhill from there. Other “astronomers” jumped in to his defense and they fired off their usual arguments as expected, for example the Van Allen belts would have fried the astronauts. I explained how the physics of the solar particles trapped in the belts have been measured and calculated to not be lethal for the 1 hour they had to pass through them. The majority of scientists agree with this evidence. The chairman’s reply “they’re lying”. And that’s how it went back and forth but at least the audience got to hear the other side even if it was only me against the majority. Like kids putting fingers in their ears going LALALALALALA.
The chairman claimed that I must watch a video that was shown to him by Vincent Nettmann and that this is what convinced him. Vincent was not there to defend this claim but if he is also a moon landing skeptic and working at Maropeng as the resident astronomer … oh dear. Of course I explained that the video has been thoroughly debunked and if he chooses to only read/listen/watch to things that confirm his beliefs he is biased. The discussion ended there when I asked for an evenings debate at one of the club’s meetings, he declined the invitation.
I did not expect this from an astronomy club.
Phil Plait slams Moon-landing deniers in his book Bad Astronomy. He thoroughly dismantles all of the usual and most of the unusual “arguments” put forward by the conspiracy clique. Still, it’s a real shame that a club whose focus is a scientific discipline should immerse itself in pseudoscience. Morally, it’s an abuse of trust.
I made your “abuse of trust” statement to the club chairman yesterday and he went off his rocker at me. He was very upset. How not to win friends and influence people.
Sorry to hear that, but it illustrates how woo-woo nuts are usually driven much more by emotion and obsession than by fact and reason.