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Dance under the stars at Taalmonument

In the new year, locals and visitors can get to know the glittering night sky – specifically the star cluster 47 Tucanae – better during a summer picnic on Paarl Mountain on Saturday, 18 January. 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 skies with the help of Orion Observation Group (OOG) members who like to share their knowledge and telescopes for free. The theme is ‘Dance under the Stars’ as the focus is on 47 Tucanae, the second brightest constellation of stars, that will be beautifully visible in the south. Tucanae, named after a South American bird, is 16 700 light years from Earth and consists of at least half a million stars.

The picnics are very popular with locals and overseas visitors who especially enjoy the beautiful views of the valleys, mountains and peninsula. It starts at 18:00, with a guided tour of the monument at 18:30, whereafter 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 at 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 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 ensure sufficient telescopes. Unfortunately, Stargazing picnics will be cancelled if the weather doesn’t play along – call 073 853 3100 or 083 544 6510 for weather inquiries. Pre-bought tickets can be transferred or reimbursed.

For more information on all the other exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument (which is celebrating 45 years in 2020), call 021 872 3441/021 863 0543, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The next Stargazing picnics are on 22 February and 21 March.

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