Thank you...

... for taking the time to stop by. I hope some of these ponderings will resonate with you.

Leave a comment if you want to - your contributions are more than welcome.

(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

1 plus 1 plus 1 for 365 days

Let me start with the thank you: I have to thank Suki Lock, who is a fellow astronomy enthusiast, young mom and freelancer doing tons of different, interesting things, for the idea to do this 1+1+1 for 365 thing.

Or rather, I have to thank her for the picture part of this concept.  She has a 365-pictures project going and I suggested casually the other day that "maybe, I should copy your idea in my blog."  She did not mind - so there you go.

My overall concept goes a bit further, though and it starts today:  One picture, one book and one quote per day for a year.  I've been thinking for a while about adapting my blog to something that has a theme that will inspire me to keep going regularly. Well, this is it and let's see how long I can make it work.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Suddenly they were gone

It was a case of "now you see them, now you don't". That is how fast the cooling towers at the old power station at Athlone came down - 4 minutes before schedule.It happened quickly and indeed we were caught unawares because they pushed the button 4 minutes ahead of the scheduled time at noon. Also, there had been a rain shower and most of us had our cameras hidden at the time. I managed to get only one shot of the actual implosion, because my camera was hidden under my sweater. But I did manage to capture some of the atmosphere at Pinelands from where we watched.
The two "salt and pepper" towers had been a Cape Town landmark for decades since they were commissioned in the early 1960s. The power station was closed down in 2003 and after it bacame clear that the tower structures had become dangerous, the decision was made to implode them, following the example of similar cooling towers at power stations in other parts of the world.

I watched the event from Pinelands where my family live, together with my nephew Ulwin and niece Tara. It was one of those events where you know that people will say in future "I was there when..."

It took only a few seconds to destroy the towers, but somehow it had become a large, sociable event with many thousands people of all ages and backgrounds sharing the experience of witnessing it first hand. No decision has yet been taken about what the area will be used for in future. There have been many ideas and in the end it will probably end up being used for a mixture of residential, commercial and perhaps cultural and educational purposes. We'll have to see..

Also see my article at Digital Journal here where there are some excellent pictures courtesy of the demolition company Ross Demolitions and a video.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The best is yet to come for astronomy in SA

Among the many electronic newsletters on various subjects that end up in my inbox, the ones that I always glance at least briefly, are the astronomy-related ones.

Together with regular “clicks” to visit links via the places like the Astronomy Picture of the Day and numerous newsfeeds, the newsletters from NASA, JPL,,, the Planetary Society and various astronomy clubs & societies around the world are very useful to keep up to date with relevant developments.

Naturally, for professional as well as amateur astronomers the “looking up” is the main thing. Professionals worry about funds and research project deadlines if their domes remain closed and data cannot be gathered from ancient light hitting their mirrors. Big, complicated research telescopes like SALT are not commissioned overnight and running them smoothly takes the technical expertise of some of the best minds on the planet. The astronomers find ways to work around problems and use existing data to continue their work or plan new projects from their offices – indeed, their telescopes no longer have the traditional eye pieces and modern research astronomers are mostly desk bound.