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Bloodtoes
2009-Mar-23, 04:01 AM
Hello!

I want to get the opinion of the BA community on this one. I'm trying to decide on a vacation this year and the idea hit me of doing an astronomy-related trip to celebrate the international year of astronomy. I'd like to head out somewhere with really awesome seeing, maybe even an observatory where I might meet working astronomers.

So the first thing I need to decide is when. I unfortunately am a bit ignorant as to what major astronomical events might be happening this year (other than the solar eclipse of course) so suggestions of anything worth checking out. Maybe a night when I can sight the most planets in a night. Or a night when I can tick off some of the messier objects I can't catch from the homestead in Vancouver Canada. Are there any more comets appearing in the night sky this year? The vague time-frame is from June until October, and probably around a new moon. I'm getting ready to fire up Starry Night as I type this to have a look though and pick some potential target nights.

The next thing to decide is where. I'm keen to go anywhere in Canada, the United States (inc. Hawaii) or western Europe. I've excluded the idea of doing the eclipse cruise. I'd love any place that does organised guided star gazing nights at or near an observatory.

Cheers. :)

JustAFriend
2009-Mar-23, 01:56 PM
I stopped in Flagstaff AZ last spring and spent an evening at the Lowell Observatory (http://www.lowell.edu/outreach/).

Nice, great staff. Got to look through a 12" Dob, a 16" Cas and of course the grand 24" Clark refractor that discovered Pluto. Lowell's mausoleum is right beside the dome.

Plus you're just an hour drive from the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater.

Argos
2009-Mar-23, 03:25 PM
Hello!

I want to get the opinion of the BA community on this one. I'm trying to decide on a vacation this year and the idea hit me of doing an astronomy-related trip to celebrate the international year of astronomy. I'd like to head out somewhere with really awesome seeing, maybe even an observatory where I might meet working astronomers.

Come to Brazil. The IAU 2009 meeting will be held at Rio de Janeiro, in August. :)

Plus, since itīs winter, the air will likely be dry and you could get spectacular viewing conditions atop the Mantiqueira Mountains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantiqueira_Mountains).

aurora
2009-Mar-23, 06:28 PM
Maybe try to attend one of the large regional star parties.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/calendar

http://www.astroleague.org/events/currentevents.html

Or, see about visiting observatories in places like Arizona or Hawaii. For example, I think they have a star party on Mauna Kea on the first Saturday of each month. I know there are public events on Kitt Peak, too.

Bloodtoes
2009-Mar-23, 09:29 PM
Those are some fantastic suggestions.. Arizona sounds great. In particular I found some info about the Grand Canyon Star Party from June 13-20.. the grand canyon, meteor crater, Lowell observatory and a star party all in one. That sounds like a great trip. The Lowell observatory is much more welcoming than the Mauna Kea I've found.. with evening stargazing and tours, whereas in Mauna Kea it sounds like you can't get near the observatories after 4pm and will hang out at the visitor's centre half-way down the mountain.

Brazil sounds amazing too though I'm not sure if I want to go that far.. I do know that Brazilians know how to party, hmmm.. and that meeting does sound amazing. Hmmm.

Very very cool.. I wonder what else is going on this summer. :)

Tucson_Tim
2009-Mar-23, 09:39 PM
If you can afford it I think a wonderful astronomical vacation is to go to the southern hemisphere (if you live in the northern hemisphere) or vice versa, so that you can see objects in the heavens that you can't see from your home. (Or at least see the ones you can from a different perspective.)

If coming to Arizona, don't forget Kitt Peak: http://www.noao.edu/kpno/

For an (almost) live camera view from atop Kitt Peak: http://www.noao.edu/kpno/kpcam/index.shtml

filrabat
2009-Mar-23, 11:19 PM
For observing, try desert areas at high altitudes and low latitudes. That gives you dry air, less atmospheric interference, and a wide variety of stars and other bodies that nightly make it above the horizon. Tropical non-desert areas at high latitudes could work too, during the dry season (usually the local winter).

Argos
2009-Mar-24, 03:19 PM
Brazil sounds amazing too though I'm not sure if I want to go that far.. I do know that Brazilians know how to party, hmmm.. and that meeting does sound amazing. Hmmm.

Well, to tease you a little more, I say that a typical flight between New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil, would have a flying time of about 9 hours, 30 minutes. One Dollar buys two local currency units (the Real, R$). And winter in Rio is just a word [though the air is drier, ideal for a trip to surrounding mountains]. I bet that during the IAU meeting there will be plenty of stargazing programs.

And think of the glory of the Southern Cross, the Magellanic clouds and the globular clusters surrounding the southern celestial pole. :)

Tucson_Tim
2009-Mar-24, 03:27 PM
And think of the glory of the Southern Cross, the Magellanic clouds and the globular clusters surrounding the southern celestial pole. :)


All right. All right. That's enough. Quit making us Northerners jealous! Stop it right now!

(But I'm living further south now than when I was raised and I can finally see Canopus easily above the southern horizon!)

LotusExcelle
2009-Mar-24, 03:32 PM
I hear Mars is lovely this time of year. Hah!

Tucson_Tim
2009-Mar-24, 03:36 PM
I hear Mars is lovely this time of year. Hah!

As long as you don't land on the moons. I hear that there are people stranded on the moon Phobos. Elderly and sick people:

http://www.bautforum.com/conspiracy-theories/86275-im-trying-understand-where-we-headed.html

LotusExcelle
2009-Mar-24, 03:39 PM
Wooowwww.

Back on topic... I wonder if there are any pre-packaged 'astronomy destination' vacations out there.

geonuc
2009-Mar-24, 04:26 PM
Wooowwww.

Back on topic... I wonder if there are any pre-packaged 'astronomy destination' vacations out there.
Double wow. :eek:

There must be astro-vacations. Maybe advertised in Sky & Telescope?

Bloodtoes
2009-Mar-24, 11:53 PM
As long as you don't land on the moons. I hear that there are people stranded on the moon Phobos. Elderly and sick people:

http://www.bautforum.com/conspiracy-theories/86275-im-trying-understand-where-we-headed.html

What in the holy hell is going on in that thread? lol.. man I haven't been this confused in a long time. You guys said it.. just, wow. Flabberghasted.. utterly at a loss for words while reading the thread. It's like he's speaking an entirely different language.

-shakes head-

ANYWAY... I've tenatively booked lodging for the GCSP and will certainly add Kitt Peak to my must-see list. I had to book now or else it'd fill up by the time I actually make up my mind. Are any of y'all planning to attend? Fortunately they let you cancel up to 2 days in advance for a full refund. :)

You guys make a further strong argument for the skies of the southern hemisphere.. the magellanic clouds I would love to see. I took a cursory glance around the web for pre-packaged astronomy vacations. I didn't find much, other than the massive solar eclipse cruise around south-east Asia.. not exactly what I'm looking for. :)

Thank you all for the tips so far.

redshifter
2009-Mar-25, 05:05 PM
Here is a suggestion:

http://www.astronomersinn.com/ They have all the equipment you'd need, and will even provide you with an expert to help you out if needed or requested.

There is also the star hill inn near Las Vegas, NM. I went to the star hill inn Sept. 2005, but now the site www.starhillinn.com does not resolve, so I don't know if it is still around. It was a pretty good trip, but of course the weather was atrocious most of the time (VERY unusual for NM that time of year). There are a lot of neat daytime activities in that area of New Mexico, such as a day trip to Santa Fe, Fort Union National Monument, the Canadian River canyon, and a really neat old mission near Santa Fe. Los Alamos and Taos are also within day trip distance from the star hill inn.

I have not been to the Astronomer's Inn, but I have done stargazing in Arizona--ironically I am in AZ right now with my 10" dob east of Phoenix visting my in-laws--and I can say that the stable, dry air is a vast improvement over the slop we call atmosphere in the Pac NW.

flynjack1
2009-Mar-29, 01:51 AM
Tucson, Doesnt Apache Peak also have some telescopes available for public use? Seems I recall something about that a few years back when I was looking for something to do in Tucson, but I may be getting it confused with Kitt Peak.

Bloodtoes: The southwestern US has great viewing and if you have your own telescope I would recommend the Canyon Lands National Park (Utah) for the best dark skies, assuming you dont mind camping out.

Sticks
2009-Mar-29, 05:03 AM
If you are in the North West of England, there is Jodrell Bank (http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/visitorcentre/)

In the North East of England there is the Kielder Observatory (http://www.kielderobservatory.org/compwinner.php)

Tucson_Tim
2009-Apr-03, 03:01 PM
Tucson, Doesnt Apache Peak also have some telescopes available for public use? Seems I recall something about that a few years back when I was looking for something to do in Tucson, but I may be getting it confused with Kitt Peak.


Sorry. Just noticed your post. I'm not aware of anything on Apache Peak but you could be right.

Kitt Peak has an observing session which requires reservations:



Arrival
Guests arrive 60-75 minutes before sunset and check in at the Visitor Center (you will be given a specific arrival time when you make a reservation). After spending some time exploring our exhibits and interactive displays and browsing our gift shop, you’ll be served a light meal and experience an introduction to astronomy and the National Observatory. Then we'll head to our overlook point and observe the sun setting over the Tohono O'odham Reservation

Orientation
After a brief talk about the distances between objects in our universe, you will learn how to use a planisphere to find stars and constellations in the sky. Then we will distribute a pair of binoculars to each guest before stepping outside and identifying constellations, stars, and many other interesting objects. You will have the opportunity to use binoculars and planispheres throughout the evening, and you will be shown various objects best viewed through binoculars.

Telescopic Journey
Finally, guests will gather in one of the Visitor Center’s domes to observe the heavens in all their grandeur through one of our reflecting telescopes. We will see highlights of the particular time of year like planets, multiple star systems, planetary nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Learn about these objects as we view them and find out what a light year really means. Ask questions, and above all, have fun discovering your universe! The program runs for 3 to 3.5 hours after sunset and is an experience unlike any other.



Tourist info:
http://www.noao.edu/outreach/kpoutreach.html

Daily guided tours (three tours each day):
http://www.noao.edu/outreach/kpvc/DayTour.html

Nightly observing program:
http://www.noao.edu/outreach/nop/

AstroTulsa_Rick
2009-Apr-26, 06:39 PM
ANYWAY... I've tenatively booked lodging for the GCSP and will certainly add Kitt Peak to my must-see list. I had to book now or else it'd fill up by the time I actually make up my mind. Are any of y'all planning to attend? Fortunately they let you cancel up to 2 days in advance for a full refund. :)

Bloodtoes,

My wife and I are planning to be there this year. I got to go last year for a few of the days and it was a blast. Met people from all over the world. Have plenty to do during the day, take your bino's out the the rim and watch the rafters go by.

Hope to see you there! Look me up, I will be in the white ford F150 with OK plates.

Rick

George
2009-Apr-29, 10:06 PM
ANYWAY... I've tenatively booked lodging for the GCSP and will certainly add Kitt Peak to my must-see list. I had to book now or else it'd fill up by the time I actually make up my mind. Are any of y'all planning to attend? Fortunately they let you cancel up to 2 days in advance for a full refund. :)

Good choice. The have a couple of packages worth looking into. Look at their AOP (Advanced Observing Program) where you can be with a technician an use one of their smaller observatories (16" and 20" RC scopes). The tours at KP are nice. They have the largest no. of observatories in the world (26, I think), including the worlds largest Solar telescope (and home of the famaous white Sun image ;) )

Then, also near Tucson, is the Mt. Graham observatories, including the new Large Binocular and the Vatican Observatory.

A great resort is the Loews(sp?) in north Tucson that has a student astronomer that comes out on Friday evenings who talks astronomy and has an 8" SCT for viewing. I think this is still the case.

Near the resort is a beautiful desert canyon that has open air tour buses, which is great on the warmer days.

AndrewJ
2009-Apr-30, 03:16 AM
Have you ever seen the southern skies? Nothing compares to the sky over an African village when the last kerosene lamp goes out. I lived in Tanzania for nine months many years ago but never looked for the LMC or SMC or Sculptor Group as I wasn't into this knd of thing yet. I was so young and foolish...

lrjarhead
2009-May-08, 10:26 PM
Hello,
As a member of AOAS.org (http://aoas.org/) I would like to recommend our organizations Star Party on Mulberry Mountain, June 19 & 20. It's a great venue and our Saturday speaker line-up is world class - and the view offers some of Arkansas' darkest skies. Just refer to our website and follow the links!
Thanks,
Mike

Bloodtoes
2009-May-12, 10:29 PM
Hey everyone, thank you so much for the awesome suggestions. I may not hit them up this year, but you've given me plenty to think about for a number of years. =) I am going to go to Arizona, to see the starry desert skies, meet up with some friends I've never met (internet friends ;)). It looks now as though a plan sort of like this would work:

Fly into Tucson, do a night or two at Kitt Peak.
Drive up to Phoenix. Stay a couple nights and visit meteor crater.
From there drive up to the canyon, spend a few nights partying it up with other stargazers and checking out the canyon during the day.
If there's time, head over the vegas for lights, shows, and debauchery.

So, I welcome any suggestions of other, even if not astronomy related, suggestions for Arizona.. Tuscon area, Phoenix area, etc. Are there any dinosaur museums? Other natural wonders I might enjoy?

R.A.F.
2012-Jun-07, 05:36 PM
The BA is involved in a vacation package called Science getaways (http://sciencegetaways.com/), but it's a bit "pricey".

redshifter
2012-Jun-07, 08:34 PM
Well, I get rubbish when I click either of the links in my (3 years) earlier post...not sure if that means those places really don't exist any longer but it doesn't look good...

In fact this link: http://www.angelfire.com/stars2/bwolfe/starhillvacation.html says: Sorry, all this is history. I heard in 2011 that the Star Hill Inn is no more

You could check this thread for some ideas: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/133879-The-BEST-atmospheric-seeing-in-the-American-Southwest

Parallel Universes
2012-Jul-16, 05:26 AM
Hawaii surely. Visit the biggest telescope and catch a few waves. I've been there 3 times. Awesome beaches. Only down side is that its full of yanks.