23 March 2015

Stargazing in one of the best night sky in the World. The Sahara Sky observatory

On my latest astronomy trip to the Sahara in Southern Morocco, I met with many enthusiast people in astronomy. I had a blast doing many activities related to astronomy as Meteorite hunting, astrophotographying the night sky and learning much of astronomy in general at this fabulous hotel/observatory called Sahara Sky. 10 days of meteorite hunting, astronomy learning and stargazing in the Sahara was incredible and just unforgettable. Please join me in a series of posts on my journey through the Sahara in Southern Morocco and one of the most dark skies places I have ever seen.

Me @ the Sahara Sky hotel/ observatory with a telescope.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ KTY Toutatis.
Stargazing is a lot of fun, but at Sahara Sky hotel/observatory stargazing is ecstatic! You find a large roof terrace that holds beach chairs to lay on to enjoy the stars without straining your neck. A part from the excellent telescopes and mounts, the fact that you can be on the terrace and simply look with your own two eyes is just amazing. The environment around the hotel is also exceptional with it's low horizon view of the night sky. It is just amazing the quality of dark sky you find there. The desert climate gives almost guarantee cloud free sky, in fact on my 10 days journey only 1 night was partially clouded.

my friend Janne Leppäkoski and Sahara Sky
observatory guru Patrick Innocent.
Stargazing is all about looking at special events occurring in the night sky. For example in this Astro-trip I starred at the Geminids meteor shower and saw many shooting stars. We had a look at Jupiter and the Galilean moons having a celestial dance in the telescope eyepiece. In the morning after a typical Moroccan breakfast, we look at the Sun and it's Sunspots and Prominences on it's surface. One of my favorite ”workshop” of this trip was to take videos using a CCD camera of the sunspots and extract a picture from it. Night after night I stargazed at the stars and had a sense of unity with the Universe. I enjoyed a lot to look at Venus also, this gave me a new perspective of the planet and see why it is so prominent in the sky at dawn and dusk (depending of it's place in it's cycle).

One of the best thing you could find at Sahara Sky is the resident astronomer that works for the hotel/observatory. His mane is Patrick Innocent and is an astronomer that has many years of experience in astronomy. His passion and enthusiasm defied gravity, I loved every minute of it. With him we watch the night sky, sometimes in the night he would shoot from the other side of the roof terrace: ”Come have a look at something you will probably never see again in your life time”. His knowledge of the universe is so large, he knew everything and if he didn't know, you can be sure the next day/night, he would have the answer. It was just relaxing to have a ”personal” astronomer to talk to and engage in for everything astronomy. I learned a big deal from him and the best part was to be able to stargaze and do astronomy with a friend and a guru of astronomy.

Sun spot through CCD camera. Early morning session
with Patrick Innocent.
Credit: Patrick Innocent/ KTY Toutatis.
I headed into this adventure knowing what I wanted to do. I was prepared and had a solid plan to execute from. But the end result was so much better that what i was expecting. It broke all my expectation and it was great. I really recommend this place. It has everything an amateur astronomer (or professional astronomer) look forward to. Simply awesome!

Please continue reading the next post of my Astronomy trip in the Sahara, Southern Morocco HERE. Follow the complete travel post series and enjoy the astronomy behind it. This is all part of the public outreach of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.