Stargazing Picnickers will raise their eyes to spectacular Jewel Box

As the summer draws to a close, Capetonians and visitors can get to know the dazzling night sky – specifically the multicoloured Jewel Box – during the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument’s last stargazing picnic on Paarl Mountain on Saturday, 26 March 2022. It promises to once again be a festive evening in the beautiful setting; in addition, a spectacular sunset and visit to the iconic sculpture is included, and the event is in aid of a good cause.

Visitors will explore the galaxy with the aid of the Orion Observation Group (OOG) whose friendly members like to share their knowledge and telescopes for free. The focus is on the Jewel Box – an open star cluster tucked in next to the Southern Cross – which, thanks to its spectacular colours, is a visual feast and regarded as one of the finest objects in the southern sky. The Jewel Box was first described by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille while doing astrometric observations for his 1751-1752 southern star catalogue Cœlum Australe Stelliferum at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

The picnics are popular with locals and overseas visitors who especially enjoy the beautiful views of the valleys, mountains and peninsula. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnics and drinks (no glass) or to order picnic baskets in advance at the ATM Koffiehuis via 082 216 2510 or info@atmkoffiehuis.co.za – this coffee shop will also sell refreshments during the event. Guests are encouraged to explore the area, and there are outdoor games and playgrounds for the children. The picnic series is in aid of ‘Let’s Read!’, the Taalmonument’s literacy project for children, and therefore picnic-goers are invited to donate new or second-hand children’s books in support of this project.

The event starts at 18:00 where-after visitors can stare into the skies from 20:00 to 22:30. The entrance fee is R50 per adult and R10 for under-18s; tickets are available at Computicket or the gate, but booking (021 863 0543/4809 or kommunikasie@taalmuseum.co.za) is essential to ensure sufficient telescopes. Unfortunately, Stargazing Picnics will be cancelled if the weather doesn’t play along – call 073 853 3100 or 083 544 6510 for weather inquiries on the day itself. Pre-bought tickets can be transferred or reimbursed. Please remember binoculars, warm clothing and masks. See taalmuseum.co.za/covid-19/ for the specific protocols.

For more information on all the other exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument, call 021 872 3441/863 0543, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The website also offers virtual tours of the monument and museum, information in six languages on the symbolism of the Taalmonument as well as many interesting articles on Afrikaans, multilingualism and the institution’s past, present and future. There are also many resources for school and research projects. THE LANGUAGE MONUMENT, LANGUAGE MUSEUM AND COFFEE SHOP ARE OPEN TO VISITORS. Annual permits are available at R120 for individuals or R220 per family, which includes access to all Full Moon Picnics.