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It’s written in the stars for this stargazer

At the age of nine Cheyenne Kersting experienced her first lunar eclipse.

Since then, the avid stargazer has taken a special interest in astronomy – a passion she shares with her mother Christine.

Now aged 16, the learner at the Montgomery and Miller Academy in Somerset West, recently attended the Spring Southern Star party held at Leeuwenboschfontein in the Klein Karoo district along with her mother.

Attending for the third year running, the pair this year hosted a creative workshop painting galaxies on T-shirts.

On Cheyenne’s return she wrote an article about her experience, which peaked the interest of her teachers, who contacted DistrictMail to share her story.

At night, when most people are asleep, Cheyenne is up admiring the night sky.

“I have always had an interest in the night sky because my mother was always involved with it, but my first real [experience] was the 2011 lunar eclipse when I was only nine years old,” she said.

“We were in our back garden with a few friends and we stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse. My passion for astronomy came from an interest in getting to know what was out there in our night sky.

“I was introduced to looking at the stars when I was very young by my mother, who has always had a passion for it. It sparked a passion and curiosity in me to find out more about our universe and the objects that can be found there.”

As the years passed, she met others who shared her interest and eagerly shared their knowledge and experiences with her.

“I found that other aspects such as the physics behind it and the skill of using a telescope were also fascinating. Learning more about the history of astronomy as a general subject also fascinates me,” Cheyenne related.

And if curiosity gets the better of her, she has recourse to a network of experts who would happily assist.

“We are in contact with friends at the Astronomical Society of South Africa (ASSA), such as Auke Slotegraaf, who is also editor of the Sky Guide Africa and director of the Centre for Astronomical Heritage [CFAH],” she proudly said.

On completion of her high school career, Cheyenne does not plan to further her studies in astronomy, but rather an animal-related profession.

“Astronomy is my passion, but I also love animals,” she said. “One day my dog and I can go stargazing together.”

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