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Special K

What’s your best holiday memories for Astro?

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Posted (edited)

It’s good to know others’ experiences so please heave to and let us know your greatest holidays (family or on purpose) for astronomy or most enduring experiences. Going first:

California Hwy 1 between San Louis Obispo and Carmel. We stayed overnight at Ragged Point motel and the Milky Way was phenomenal. Just bins but I could see it all naked eye!!!

SE tip of Menorca is a close second since I had the ED80 and could just walk it down to the beach 5 mins away from the room. LP was very controlled there by the way.  It was much better than up on the Caldera in Tenerife the year before and that was bloomin marvellous!  :)  Seeing a moonrise coming up from the Med was jaw dropping as were the Helix and Andromeda. 

Edited by Special K
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Seeing sunrise from near the top of Mt Kilimanjaro in October 1976, followed by viewing a few days later, a total eclipse of the sun from Zanzibar island

John

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Visiting Kennedy Space Centre is always special for me. Not always sure about my family though !

Last year we saw our 1st launch and the return of the lower stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 along with two sonic booms as it came down.

I don't tend to do much astronomy when on holiday though. We are visting Australia later this year so I hope to have some good views of the southern skies from the "red centre" :smiley:

We did go to Cornwall in 1999 for the total eclipse and, though we were mostly clouded out, the experience during totality on Marazion beach was magical :smiley:

 

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For me it was the total solar eclipse last year visting my cousin in SC, USA - awesome...!!

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After completing my finals, camping by Llyn Morwynion in the Rhinogs and seeing the stars reflected in the lake and reading the small print on a baked bean can by starlight (that's dark adaptation for you!)

Also, showing my daughter the milky way when camping on Exmoor.

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I think one of my frustrations is that I have never had a scope with me on the very best nights I've experienced. One night on Exmoor was absolutely incredible, but I was limited to just naked eye gawping ;)

On safari in Tanzania the skies, again, were wonderful, no LP at all, but in an open camp I was more worried about avoiding being eaten by something than observing! We had to be escorted back to our 'tents' (read chalets with some form of canvas roof so they could treat it as glamping ;)) by Masai warriors!

Probably my best observing experiences have been camping in Devon and Dorset with my children, normally in late July/early August. The Milky Way is lovely and by the coast shines right down to the sea on good nights. I've managed M7 and some other low targets on occasion. I did manage to lock my 8" Mak in the boot of my car on the very best night I've ever experienced in more than ten years visiting. I very nearly blubbed like a baby!

Outside that I would say the four clear nights at SGL10 with my 16" Sumerian Canopus, in the company of some of the dob mob with scopes from 14" to 20". Two nights with decent transparency and some really lovely views of M33, 101 plus tens of galaxies in Markarian's chain and beyond, the Crescent nebula, too many to name really. I saw more galaxies in those four nights than in my entire observing past up until then! Combine that with beautiful clear skies for the partial eclipse with two lovely scopes, a Quark and a Herschel Wedge and all in all it was a pretty amazing weekend. Right up there, almost a holiday ;)

 

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Posted (edited)

August 1999, VARNA/BAPHA, BG.

Some members of Reading Astronomy Society during 1998 were planning a trip for the solar eclipse on 11.08.1999... two options... Cornwall or Bulgaria.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Location:                           Pros:                                             Cons:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                                                                            

Cornwall: 🇬🇧                     within the UK/GB                          overpriced B&B etc

                                                                                                 gridlocked roads/sites

                                                                                                 large crowds/chaos

                                                                                                 cloudy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                          

Krapets, Bulgaria: 🇧🇬      cheap B&B etc                               about a 2h30m drive from in a mini bus to the observing site, (just a few metres south of the centre line).

                                           no gridlocked roads/sites

                                           no large crowds/chaos

                                           sunny

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Including the flights to/from [LGW - VAR] and accommodation in a three star hotel, it worked out cheaper... and without the stress, (apart from a minor delay on the 'Gatwick Express' train at Guildford and check-in queues at LGW).

Edited by Philip R
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The darkest sky I've ever seen was on holiday in a remote farmhouse in Cornwall but it wasn't my best experience as all I had was some poor quality bins and there were so many stars that I struggled to find my way around.

I was in Cornwall for the 1999 eclipse and was on top of Rosewall hill near St Ives. The thing I remember is not the eclipse but rather looking north/east up the coast and spine of Cornwall and seeing the coast and some populated areas literally sparkling with camera flashes.

I think my best session was on a windswept cliff in Jersey one summer hiding at the bottom of a hotel car park checking out sagitarius with the st120. The views weren't great because of the wind but it was a good long session with no interruptions and no hassle to have to get up early the next day. The lights in the hotel gradually went out behind me, the bar and catering staff all packed up and went home and then it was just me and the darkness.

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Yiwu, Kumul, Xinjiang, China 2008

Total solar eclipse, a fantastic 10 day road trip taking in the Great Wall, terracota army, Gobi desert, Mogao Budda Caves and Xian.

 

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My most memorable stargazing experience - alas not with a telescope, but with binoculars - was in the "empty quarter", the Arabian desert in eastern Yemen. At the time there was civil war within the country, and we were in a tribal region which meant we didn't hang around for long. But the view of the Milky Way was incredible.

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Arriving at the in laws in Canada, being told we’d just missed some great autorae. Went out for a brief stroll to help ease the jet lag (leaving the camera at home), only to be treated to green aurorae all round the sky with a dancing pink halo directly overhead.... 

 

Peter

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Posted (edited)

These are really interesting stories!  Thanks all for sharing. :) 

Edited by Special K

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I think my most memorable have been:

1. Seeing my first total solar eclipse, and the glorious Southern Hemisphere skies for the first (and so far only) time, from Zimbabwe in June 2001.
2. Having a trip to La Palma in 1996 happen to coincide with the appearance of Comet Hyakutake, while it was apparently cloudy at home.
3. More recently, this past January, seeing and photographing some beautiful aurorae in Yllas, Finland.

Best regards, Mike.

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Just come back from a camping trip with wife and baby in wasdale (Lake District) camp site being flanked by England’s two tallest mountains I didn’t hold out much hope for seeing very much but took my scope along just in case. How wrong could I be. 8pm it was raining and all hope was lost. Midnight arrived and what a view - not since I was in Sark many years ago have I been able to see the Milky Way  with my own eyes! Simply breathtaking. The sky was teaming with stars - if anything there were so many, it was difficult to accurately determine the stars names. Impressed me so much I’m trying to convince my wife that we should go back in a couple of weeks. 

 

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Fantastic @PaulUns, sounds great.

It can get confusing when there are so many stars that the constellations don't stand out as they usually do. Mustn't complain though!! :)

 

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1999, Pathos, Cyprus during November Leonid meteor storm. 1300/hour estimated. I dragged wife out of bed at 2am to view. Glorious.

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Seeing a meteor shower from Gran Canaria about 20 yrs ago. It was possibly the Persieds (cant remember exactly when i was there, but most likely August). Each one had a spectacular tail of fire. They were coming thick and fast. Drew quite a crowd to the beachfront. 

 

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I have so many Astro memories over the 30 years I’ve been practicing this hobby. I’ll pick one.

Being at my Mums when she lived in Cornwall. She had a house right on top of a hill on the outskirts of Launceston. I had one of scopes (which doubled as my travel to mums setup) out in the garden cooling. It was a 80mm Revelation Sentinel Petzval on a Celestron SLT Mount.

I had a Beautiful clear sky over head and to the south. In the far distance I could see low cloud and an impressive lightning & thunderstorm raging away over the hills near Bude (20 ish miles away) which lasted for over an hour. The sky just appeared to be 3d, the seeing was spectacular!.. I used the goto (which worked perfectly) and managed so many DSO’s.. all of them just seemed to stand right out.

So the night was just perfect!. As I packed up after around 3hrs of amazing observing with the . To finish the night a massive rolling fireball meteor slewed right over head. It even left a smoke trail!.. I felt so humbled to of had such an amazing night.

Best wishes.. Rob

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August 1999, first total solar eclipse seen quite a few since!  Kennady Space Centre, never lets me down, been three times so far and finally Transit of Venus from Big Island in Hawaii.

Wish list: Northwern Lights, looking thru a large scope over 20 inches in diameter and not having a queue behind me?

Peter

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Best astro holiday (unless honeymoon counts as astro! 😀) was the Side, Turkey, total solar eclipse.

Special memories include first comet, Arend-Rowland 1957, three World class aurorae, having lunch with John Dobson in San Francisco 1989.

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On 10/08/2018 at 12:15, Peter Drew said:

Best astro holiday (unless honeymoon counts as astro! 😀) was the Side, Turkey, total solar eclipse.

Special memories include first comet, Arend-Rowland 1957, three World class aurorae, having lunch with John Dobson in San Francisco 1989.

Wow!!!

this is a great hobby :) 

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South Pacific Star Party in New South Wales for my 40th bday

2 nights with an 18 inch dob under dark skies

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I've only taken two holidays with astro in mind. Eclipses of 99 and 08. Both were cloudy and wet but still special in their own way.

I've done much better by chance.

A holiday to Iceland one summer, more for its geology and landscape than anything, and stopping at a remote hostel I got chatting to a local who said the northern lights had been visible the previous night so maybe I should look out for them. Sure enough about 1am a lovely display, and the only time I've seen them.

Another year I went to the Gambia for work and I remember one evening standing outside in the warmth just staring at a beautiful dark starry sky (not much light pollution as no electricity after dark) and wishing I had more with me than the 10x30 travel binoculars I'd packed. 

I also remember being taken on a weekend away for my birthday many years ago and stopping at the hotel overlooking the Worm's Head promontory in Wales.. After a nice day I was sitting at a panoramic window with a glass of red wine when I saw a bright fireball streak across the sky. My girlfriend at the time earned a lot of points for that one!

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Staying at a friend's static caravan near Salcombe in Devon, this week. It is a family holiday rather than an Astro excursion, but I managed to bring my small SW Newt and AZ goto with me, as well as modified DSLR. I am being  allowed to indulge when the nights are clear (one really good one so far), and have been blown away by how bright the milky way is with low LP. I can't process my DSLR shots yet, but have even managed to take passable 20s smartphone shots with the phone resting on a bin! 

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I've had a few good ones, although the Astrocamp and Star party ones are great as you have people to share it with.  Caravaning in Spain, I regularly disappear up into the mountains around 10pm and find some deserted dark sky area.  Great skies but can be a bit unnerving when some night animals are wandering about, luckily none of them two legged.. but the heard of around 15 boar definitely got the heart beating!  As I ended up having to leave the car outside the campsite on my early hours return, and then go bring it in in the morning, people started to wonder about 'my poor wife left at home whilst I disappeared for some unknown, (but obviously nefarious), nocturnal activities!'  Ady (above) and I had a really great week there on our own, under the pretence of bringing the caravan back to UK, which we did, and also found some sublimbly dark skies close to a small town in France called Nedde.  

One other was when I hired a car to drive from Canberra to Melbourne in SE Australia and stopped at a place called Orbost which has zero light pollution (and the Magellanic Clouds!).  Same deal though, I drive out to the countryside and set up, but still have that slight nervous feeling with every rustle in the trees, so in summary the best ones are when you have people to share it with!

Mike

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