Stargazing picnic celebrates new lunar king of the solar system

Locals and visitors can get to know the glittering stars and planets – specifically the new lunar king of our solar system, Saturn – better during a spring picnic on Paarl Mountain on Saturday, 23 November 2019. It promises to once again be a festive evening in the beautiful setting; in addition, a spectacular sunset and a free guided tour of the iconic sculpture is included, and the evening is in aid of a good cause.

Visitors can explore the starry sky with the help of Orion Observation Group (OOG) members who like to share their knowledge and telescopes for free. The focus is on Saturn, which, with its 82 moons (20 of which were recently discovered), has dislodged Jupiter (with 79 moons) as the planet with the most natural satellites orbiting it. This planet is visible for the last time in November, so come admire and salute him until next time.

The picnics are very popular with locals and overseas visitors who especially enjoy the beautiful views of the valleys, mountains and peninsula. The theme is ‘Let’s wave goodbye to Saturn’ and the picnic begins at 18:00. The guided tour of the monument is at 18:30 and visitors can stare into the skies from 20:00 to 22:30. Guests are welcome to bring their own picnic baskets or pre-order one (R300 for two people or R400 with a basket included) at the coffee shop on 021 863 2800. It will also be open for coffee and light refreshments as well as pizza. Safe parking is available and entry is controlled. Please remember binoculars and warm clothing. Visitors are encouraged to explore the area, and there are outdoor games and playgrounds for the children.

The picnic series is offered in aid of ‘Let’s Read!’, the Taalmonument’s literacy project for children, and therefore picnic-goers are requested to donate new or second hand children’s books in support of this project. The entrance fee is R50 per adult and R10 per child; tickets are available at Computicket or the gate, but booking (021 863 0543/4809) is essential to allow for sufficient telescopes. Unfortunately, Stargazing picnics will be cancelled if the weather is bad – call 073 853 3100 or 083 544 6510 for weather inquiries.

For more information on all the other exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument (which is celebrating 45 years in 2020), call 021 863 0543/4809, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The next Stargazing picnics are on 21 December, 18 January 2020, 22 February and 21 March.

Post script: There is currently a competition to name the newly discovered moons of Saturn. Participate via https://carnegiescience.edu/NameSaturnsMoons and see if your name makes it!