Apologies for the delay, but a holiday that excluded internet access prevented me posting the pics from this exciting event which took place up at SALT on Monday 7 November 2011.
As for Ockert's wedding, the crew cleaned up amazingly well for the big day & the only regret is that with everyone running around attending to last-minute preparations, we failed to get the whole team together for a photo. Here are a few of them that I managed to get to stand still for a few seconds...
Here are some of the more conscientious objectors that Chris didn't send home to smarten up ;)
Before the buses arrived from Cape Town, there was time for our distinguished guests from Rutgers University (Prof Ted Williams, Chairman of the SALT Board & Prof Kathryn Uhrich, the Dean of Math & Physical Sciences) to polish up their routine :)
First to show up were the school kids from Sutherland who were to entertain us with their enthusiastic singing of the national anthem & a number of other songs.
Next were the 2 buses from Cape Town bearing the rest of the SALT Board & members of staff from SAAO & SALT.
All the other dignitaries, with appropriate levels of security, made it safely too...
The ushers were strategically stationed to meet the crowd.
& here's one of the superheroes making his way through the guard of honour :)
Entry into the dome was via the side door to the observing floor.
Much chattering & shuffling around as everyone took up their seats.
Master of Ceremonies for the day was the President & CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF), Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.
Rousing speeches were given by SAAO's Acting Director, Prof Patricia Whitelock...
Prof Ted Williams representing the SALT Board....
Dr Val Munsami, Deputy Director-general for Research, Development & Innovation within the Department of Science & Technology (DST)...
& Ms Grizelda Cjiekella, Acting Premier of the Northern Cape.
With the speeches concluded, it was time to unveil the event's comemorative plaque.
Big smiles all around!
This momento will have pride of place downstairs in the visitors' gallery.
Finally, it was time for SALT to speak for itself... All the audio-visual equipment was removed to allow safe rotation of the telescope structure & the dome was rotated in the opposite direction to maximise the theatrics!
But not before a word of warning from Tech Ops Manager Chris Coetzee (seen here doing his best impersonation of a politician) regarding the potentially startling sound effects that were to follow...
Even for those that've seen all this before, the novelty never seems to wear off!
Afterwards Patricia invited everyone to offer the telescope a well-deserved round of applause :)
Later still, Darragh set about interrogating John Booth, Chief Engineer at McDonald Observatory (the home of SALT's older twin, the Hobby Eberly Telescope or HET) as to what they were thinking when they started all this trouble in the first place!
All guests were then ferried down the hill to the Recreation Centre where "snacks & drinks" (the official technical term coined by the Green Amanda) were to be enjoyed.
Somewhat disappointingly, no one actually made use of the climbing wall during this time...
After lunch the buses were loaded up again & made the return trek to Cape Town - a great time to be a local!
A memorable day & congratulations to all for their huge efforts to ensure that everything ran so smoothly :)