A Brief History of The Cederberg Observatory

In the early 1980’s a British astronomer named Peter Mack, who was working for the SAAO (South African Astronomical Observatory), visited the Cederberg and saw its potential as a base for an amateur observatory. He obtained the use of a piece of land on the farm Dwars Rivier, courtesy of the then owner, Pollie Nieuwoudt, and built the first piers for telescopes there in 1984. A storeroom and a dome were constructed early in 1986 and the site was used for observations of Halley’s Comet later that year.

In 1988 Peter Mack created a partnership with five amateur astronomers from Cape Town and a constitution was drawn up officially establishing the Cederberg Observatory. The ‘first generation’ astronomers where then, Peter Mack, Chris Forder, Wayne Trow, Bill Hollenbach, Martin Lyons and Martin Fuller.

An accommodation block with cooking facilities was completed in 1989 and subsequent work at the site has seen the erection of an ablution block, a storeroom, a second dormitory and a roll-off roof structure to house a 12” telescope. As a final luxury, Eskom provided power in the mid 90’s, rendering redundant the batteries and a rather noisy generator.

As partners left or retired to greener pastures, new partners were brought on board and included Steve Kleyn, Cliff Turk and Jeff Groom. Currently the partners are, Chris Forder, Wayne Trow, Cliff Turk, Malcom Cerfonteyn, Peter Schonu, Dany Duprez, Jeff Groom (dormant) and Gerhard Pool (standing in for Jeff Groom).

Dome under construction
Transporting a piece of the dome to the observatory
Dome wall & bungalow foundations