EGTN South Africa R2 Update 2 – Donkey!


We are safely at the new PTO observatory with a couple days of work under our belt. The builder for this observatory has previously completed a few builds for us in the past, so he was able to prep it beyond what we could have asked for walking in. That allowed us to quickly and cleanly begin the installation of our equipment and are well on our way to being done ahead of schedule.

After arriving in Cape Town a couple of days ago, Trent and I jumped in the car and headed out to where we are staying which is a couple hour drive east. We met up with our site host to get acclimated at the new site and then headed to the B&B they booked for us.  I knew this new site was close to the beach, but didn’t realize this would be our reality for the week!


Definitely an unexpected treat.  With the telescopes yet to arrive (they have officially cleared customs and will be onsite Monday!), we have been able to leave the site a little before sunset each day so our drive back to the B&B before dinner has been spectacular.

Our first full day of work was spent setting up all of the computers for the observatory.  We have all of this down to a science now at this point, but still takes the time to sit and get everything installed and dialed how we like it.  Computer building took a little less time than we anticipated so we were able to begin mounting the computers inside the observatory on day one.

Today (day 2), we finished up all of the computer wiring and began the installation of the other peripheral equipment in the shed, most importantly the automation hardware.  I know this was a little anxiety inducing for Max as he has become our expert over the past couple years setting this up, but Trent and I got to work today on it and all is in the clear.  I spoke with Max earlier and he sounded relieved that we were able to get everything going smoothly. Ye of little faith Mister Hillis 😉

At times we were slowed down today due to our good friend Donkey.  I have had observatory dogs, cats, birds, and bugs before, but we have never been graced by a donkey in the observatory until today!


I tried to put that little rope in the way of Donkey (that is her actual name), but she ducked under it and was inside shortly after this picture.  Some people have bulls in China shops, we have donkeys in observatories!

Otherwise, everything else is shaping up to be completed in a timely manner here at PTO. We will be completing some additional telescope preparation work tomorrow before driving to our BTO site on Sunday to complete some small maintenance there.  Then back at PTO on Monday for (hopefully) first light!

The last little tid bit I’ll share is that we are in the area where a popular tourist attraction is shark cage diving. Heading to dinner the other night, we saw the string of boats with all of the cages off the back:


Apparently killer whales have started coming in to the bay and scaring off all of the sharks (maybe this is why they are in California! <– doubtful), so a number of the shark cage diving outfits have closed their doors as a result. Either way, still pretty neat to see this line of boats. And don’t worry Holly, there are no plans to go cage diving while we are here!

Hope everyone has a nice weekend and a big birthday shout out to the one and only BenLane!


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