Baobabs, Time and Horologium

Baobab

I have a baobab growing in a big clay pot. I was given him when I was living in Kleinmond, just outside Cape Town. He was a small, leafless, dormant twig, about 20 cm tall. Baobabs live in very dry, very hot, very sunny climates – Cape Town has dark, cold, rainy, windy, dismal winters. I nurtured him through eight of them… which meant spending an inordinate amount of time putting on and removing his raincoat and his

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A morning with meerkats

30th Aug 2016

117There is little more enchanting than meerkats – and 28 kilometres outside of van Zylsrus, you can get the opportunity to spend a few hours with a researcher at the Kalahari Meerkat Project.

Because of their unusual co-operative and altruistic mammal behaviour, the team of international; researchers have been studying them at the Kuruman River Reserve  since 1993.

(They were made famous by the TV series, Meerkat Manor… who can ever forget Flower, the matriarch of the Whiskers gang,

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Two Ara Globular Clusters

29th Aug 2016

NGC 6397 ARAGlobular star clusters are among my favourite deep-sky objects. These beautiful swarms of ancient stars are among the most stirring and beautiful sights in our skies.

Globular clusters, more than any other objects give me a sense of movement. Not only because of the dizzying chaos of stars that radiate out in all manner of arcs and curves and lines and bows and curls, but also that while each globular cluster moves as a whole in

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Galaxies Galore in Grus

27th Aug 2016

Blue CraneDuring the day the Kalahari is alive with birds, filling the air with their songs. I had a great treat this afternoon – I saw some vultures soaring effortlessly on a thermal, circling around and around, held aloft by those huge wings. Magnificent birds. Watching them in the binoculars brought to mind another bird that glides through the air on magnificent wings… Grus, the crane.

I think Grus is a constellation close to the hearts of most South African stargazers

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Big 5 of the African Sky

26th Aug 2016

You’ve seen them as a child in picture books, in zoos, on Discovery Channel, and in National Geographic magazine. They are one of the biggest reasons why many travellers visit Africa.

They are “The Big 5”… leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo.

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Leopard

Few animals possess the leopard’s mysterious aura – stealthy, agile and a devastating hunter, it is nocturnal, elusive and solitary – the most widely distributed of Africa’s big cats, it is also

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Telescopium

25th Aug 2016

galileo_04Years ago, while waiting for my eyes to dark adapt, I was idly tracing out Telescopium’s faint and obscure shape in the sky, thinking about this obscure little constellation, when I realised no-one has placed a more important constellation among the stars than Nicolas Louis de Lacaille did when he put a telescope up there.

We owe the telescope the most illustrious position in the sky, bar none. You only have to look at the photo of Galileo’s telescope

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