2nd March 2014 - Road trip!

18 March 2014 by Luke Jew

A map of our road trip across South Africa

So far we have been commissioning the telescope from HartRAO, outside Johannesburg. However, this is not C-BASS south's final resting place. In a few months we will be moving the receiver and digital back end from it's current dish to an identical one in the Karoo desert (circa 900km away)... a lovely dry spot with little interference from pesky mobile phone signals or wifi.

It was essential we check the site in the desert and begin preparations for the antenna's arrival. This required a 3 day road trip! So we took our tiny little hire car on an epic journey. Along the route we took breaks at some of South Africa's finest road side eateries (big fans for the Steers avocado and bacon double beef burger). We also had the chance to visit Kimberly and the Big Hole, an old diamond mine now museum.

We were very pleased to arrive at the site and the SKA maintained chalet. Staying at the challet was like living in the lap of luxury - it was clean, well furnished and came with a kitchen stocked full with all the essentials (lots of cookies)!

On our first full day at the Karoo we hiked up to the dish awaiting the C-BASS receiver. After a while Charles got the telescope moving - as it slew downwards dust, twigs and bits of old bird nest fell to the ground. Yipee! The dish works. When then had several meetings and came up with a tentative plan for May, when we will be back to move the antenna.

Charles, Angela, Mike and Luke underneath the dish in the karoo
The start of C-BASS south proper is now in sight. We will be moving in May, starting observations over the summer and we can't wait!

On our second evening at Carnarvan (the little village near the desert site) we were warned that where we were staying was haunted - which lead to an unpleasant night's sleep before the long drive home the next day. We picked to go a different route back which involved 250km along dirt track, a few more burgers and after our 1880km round trip we finally made it back!
(Fun fact 1880km is roughly the radius of the moon!)