Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Observing the Grahamstown Observatory

Having only time for art galleries and little patience for museums I decided to move out of narrow minded comfort zone and confront the most boring museum (rumour has it) in all of Grahamstown- the Observatory Museum. On entrance I expected to be confronted with instant fatigue and a desire to claw my way out of the door…my experience however, was vastly different. Despite the strange and rather creepy Victorian figures staring blankly at you from every angle, the visit proved to be interesting and educational. The camera obscura placed in the actual observatory above the museum stole the show. The museum was a house owned by Henry Carter Galpin, goldsmith and watchmaker interested in astronomy, from 1850-1886. Working via a simple mirror placed on the roof of the observatory (which I had a look at by climbing up a rickety ladder) you can see the whole of Grahamstown in moving detail (from people to cars and stray dogs) on a large white circular board. It is fascinating and slightly unnerving to see absolutely everything outside- within the museum in perfect focus and detail and knowing that perhaps minutes ago someone had been staring at me-in-miniature walking down the street. My advice to anyone who lives in Grahamstown or who visits (careful you don’t blink) this quaint town, a visit to the Observatory is definitely in order.

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