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Thread: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

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    Default Best locations in South Africa in February ?



    We (girlfriend and me) want to go to SA for 3-4 weeks in Feb 2013 and I'll bring my Televue Genesis and Canon EOS7 with me. In 1997 an '98 I also visited SA in feb/mar with the same equipment (but a Canon T90 instead of an EOS 7) and had very clear nights in the West Cape particularly Prince Albert.

    Are there other locations with really dark sky in SA for astrophotography and visual deep sky observing ?
    Knowledge of northern and southern skies.
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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Hi Skysurfer,
    I would stick to the West/Northwest part of the country at that time of year. Up here in the Northeast it is our rainy season so you can't bank on getting clear skies.
    Cheers,
    Steve

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Well the Karoo/Sutherland area would be a good bet. As would the Northern Cape. Obviously you'll be quite far from civilisation, but that also means you'll be in darkness.

    For more modest locations, my two spots are outside Cullinan (which is outside Pretoria). It's quite dark there, and only about 50km from the capital. Otherwise, more scenic locations would be out Mpumalanga side. Dullstroom/Lydenburg/Pilgrims Rest. We've got a place outside Pilgrims Rest that we go to a couple of times a year and it's VERY dark. You get some small light domes in the distance, but I was able to find a bunch of really dim objects with my dob in the space of an evening.

    As Steve said. The North/North East part has its rainy season then. It's not that it rains all the time, mostly it's just a day and then it's gone again.

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    I know in NE S-Africa it is rainy season but that means transparent skies.
    Last year I was in Bali in the wet (Feb 2012) and transparent skies as well. Dry season means a hzay sky more often.
    But indeed, the Karoo is the best place.
    Knowledge of northern and southern skies.
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    Canon EOS 6 with EF 85mm f/1.8, EF 200 f/2.8L, EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L, 50mm f/2.5 macro

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    I live in the North-Eastern part and we have some really dark places, some of the best observing I've done (didn't have a telescope at the time) was in the Northern parts between the border and the Kruger National park (Pafuri area). You get clear skies throughout the rainy season but when it rains, it often rains hard for days. The Karoo, however, is a great place for astronomy and although I have never been there, I don't think you can go wrong if you choose the Karroo.

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Quote Originally Posted by WiK1d View Post
    Well the Karoo/Sutherland area would be a good bet. As would the Northern Cape. Obviously you'll be quite far from civilisation, but that also means you'll be in darkness.

    For more modest locations, my two spots are outside Cullinan (which is outside Pretoria). It's quite dark there, and only about 50km from the capital. Otherwise, more scenic locations would be out Mpumalanga side. Dullstroom/Lydenburg/Pilgrims Rest. We've got a place outside Pilgrims Rest that we go to a couple of times a year and it's VERY dark. You get some small light domes in the distance, but I was able to find a bunch of really dim objects with my dob in the space of an evening.

    As Steve said. The North/North East part has its rainy season then. It's not that it rains all the time, mostly it's just a day and then it's gone again.
    One good thing about the North East is there is lots to do and see during the day also. One thing about the Pilgrim's Rest area though, is that it is in the mist belt. It's not always misty, but it does seem to be attracted to telescopes (It is where my home is). When it is clear, the views are stunning though

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Yeah, that's why I suggested it. Sitting in the middle of the Northern Cape or Karoo during the day is going to be crappy, unless you're planning on making up for lost sleep.

    When I was in Pilgrims Rest in May I returned home exhausted, usually it's not supposed to work that way when you're on vacation. During the day I went to see the sights, cast some fly line, had a beer at the highest brewery in Africa and so on. And then spent the early evenings having a braai (BBQ for you American folk) and then heading up the mountain to do some stargazing until after midnight. It was a great trip.

    As for the mist, that's true. We go there in May and October and there is almost always mist in October, but I've found it's only around sunset for a couple of hours and then just before the sun rises again, I'm sure Steve can provide more insight on that though. The past two times I were there I've had some exceptional viewing.

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    I managed to get a good shot of the mist a few years back. As you can see, it seems to favour the village itself. This was taken from Robber's Pass looking towards Pilgrim's Rest. It is usually gone by mid morning.

    mist.JPG

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Just for interest, the holes you can see on the hills in the middle distance are old prospecting excavations. Pilgrim's Rest is an old gold mining town. There is still some gold around in the creeks so if you want to fill in some time during the day you could always try your luck
    gold.jpg

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    Default Re: Best locations in South Africa in February ?

    Lovely! It wasn't nearly as green as when I was there in May, still quite amazing sights (just outside Sabie)



    And some single 30s exposure photos





    Light dome in this shot is Lydenburg I believe

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