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Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

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San Diego...
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Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

We're (a family of 4) going to be in Yulara April 5th & 6th. We'll have a car of our own. One of my hobbies is astronomy and I see there is a 1 hour star gazing in several guidebooks, but the linking site (www.ecotours.com.au/) doesn't exist any longer. I would love to learn more about this. (I also found a link to discoveryecotours.com.au that was basically a shell, but no active links).

Some questions,

1. Is one hour really enough time?

2. How large are the groups that attend?

3. I can't tell if there is more than one time slot that evening, do you know?

4. Is there the possibility of additional time? I've never observed stars in the southern hemisphere and would love to spend some time doing so without being rushed?

5. We'll be in Alice Springs the following 2 nights. Is there any star gazing there?

Thanks in advance.

Buddy

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1. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

There's the Sounds of Silence dinner. It's a bit pricey, but the star talk is good. www.ayersrockresort.com.au/sounds-of-silence/

And there's this one which involves a more casual barbecue: www.aatkings.com.au/au/tour.php…

In Alice Springs there's an active astronomical club and there are star talks on Tuesday nights at the MacDonnel Ranges Holiday Park. tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g255063-d…

Luigi

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2. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

Luigi,

Thanks for the quick response. We're not interested in the SOS dinner. Too touristy (much like our "authentic" Hawaiian Luaus). The BBQ is interesting, but also pricey. We have our own car and figured we could find a dinner and do the touring on our own. We're adverse to traveling with groups.

I'm specifically trying to find out if the Star Gazing tour is still running (since the site is not active) and if it is worth it.

Do you have any recommendations for a good "Outback" or Aboriginal experience. Something that in not a tourist trap but more educational? We'll be traveling in Uluru, Alice Springs, Port Douglas/Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne.

Thanks again for the help.

Buddy

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3. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

I tend to agree with you about SOS. :)

In Uluru, SEIT run some long (full day) tours. We did the Cave Hill tour which goes way out into the desert to a sacred rock cave with paintings where the local owners give a (very casual) guided tour. seitoutbackaustralia.com.au/Home/Tours/CULTU…

In Alice Springs, Mbantua does regular tours. (Not sure if I've got their own website): www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm…

Or try asking the Alice Tourist Infor Centre: http://www.centralaustraliantourism.com/

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

There seems to be an Observatory at Ayers Rock according to this website. It might be worth investigating further:

placesonline.com/oceania/australia/northern_…

Edited: 05 March 2012, 08:05
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5. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

I'll also agree on the SOSbeing too touristy

however..

the night we went (and I wouldn't go again)

GS (aged about 14) got almost an hour to himself with the astronomer...most people went..oh nice stars and went back to drink...

they discussed red dwarfs, blue giants etc.... particular constellations and theories..it actually became a very intimate experience...and cost me a bomb/......(new upgraded telescope)

I cant be sure but the eco tours site was the option for the Observatory...

unfortunately Aboriginal tours seem to fall in the same category as polynesia experiences regardless of where you are...

The best i've had was at Paronella park with the indigenous foods...and at Art gallery NSW in Sydney, these performances have since moved to the Museum....

Lunenburg, Canada
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6. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

Hi Buddy!

I love Southern Hemisphere stargazing. You don't really need a guide unless you're the sort who can't recognize constellations at home. Here's some tips to help you prepare now.

1) You need star maps. Even if you're familiar with the constellations from home, they'll look completely different when you try to trace them "upside down."

The best maps are found in "The Stars -- A New Way to See Them" by H.A. Rey. Copy the pages for the Southern Hemisphere 10° to 30° South and also the pages showing Argo the Ship and also the Centaur.

2) Bring a small flashlight. You'll do even better if you can find a bit of red plastic, like a red balloon, to cover the beam. This keeps the white light from deadening your night vision.

3) The Yaluru resorts, like hotels everywhere, are drenched in light that will keep you from seeing the dimmer stars. After dark, get in your car to drive in toward the national park. Down the road a short distance, there are no more lights.

4) Start by looking southeast. You'll find Alpha Centauri and Agena, the great southern Pointer Stars. On April evenings, they point up to the Southern Cross. The Cross is lying on its side, with its long axis pointing horizontally.

By the way, you'll probably discover the Southern Cross to be a lot less impressive than you've been told. On a number of occasions, I have amazed Australians by pointing it out to them, demonstrating that it's no more luminous than other constellations, and that it looks more like a kite than a cross. Still, don't miss it!

5) You're going to have a problem on April 5 and 6 because the full moon in Australia falls on on the night of April 6-7 in 2012. On the one hand, you'll see the lunar features you're used to "upside down." For instance, the Lady in the Moon rises face down, then spends the night standing on her head. Look for the Boy in the Moon, made up of the same features as the northern Man in the Moon when they are seen inverted.

On the other hand, the dimmer stars will be washed out. It will be harder to trace fainter constellations, although of course you will still see the bright stars.

6) We found that the skies in the southern states are no worse than those in the Northern Territory, unless you'll be overnighting in urban areas. You can enjoy darker skies later in your trip, after you leave the Northern Territory, when the full moon is past.

7) Don't forget the early morning hours. The stars move through the night Before dawn, you'll get a preview of the Austral winter sky. Vega and Deneb are winter stars there.

8) Don't forget the Magellanic Clouds. Since they aren't official bright stars, they may get overlooked. If you can dodge the full moon, they're quite noticeable to the naked eye. The Magellanic Clouds are galaxies of their own, close enough to us that we can make them out as sizeable patches of stars rather than a mere misty blur like Andromeda.

If you forget your star charts, here's what you do. Look south. (Remember how you find south: Use the pointer stars to locate the Southern Cross. In April, where the Cross points right in early evening, that's where the south star ought to be (except that in our epoch there is no south star).

Now, go back to Alpha Centauri. Make an imaginary line from Alpha Centauri through the dark spot of the south pole to a bright star low in the southwest. That bright star is Achernar.

The two Magellanic Clouds straddle the imaginary line, slightly closer to Achernar than to Alpha Centauri. The Large Magellanic Cloud is above the imaginary line, the Small below.

Happy stargazing!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Edited: 10 March 2012, 23:28
Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

The resort area is Yulara...

Actually the best maps can be bought from Observatory and Powerhouse museums in Sydney which have location related, specific maps for dates throughout the year, and includes indigenous astronomy so will meet your local culture question.

this is the link

powerhousemuseum.com/publications/…

Nick Lomb is considered to be one of Australia's leading Astronomers..

Edited: 10 March 2012, 23:54
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8. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

Can I pass on a tip which may seem obvious to you, but others have appreciated. Quite by mistake (and the concern of 'missing' the sunrise), we went out early to view the sunrise at Kuta Juta and arrived in the dark. So we saw the night sky change from black to red before the sun made an appearance. The changing sky was more exciting than the actual sunrise.

One tip though....take a torch with you.

9. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

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10. Re: Uluru Star Gazing Night Sky Show

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Edited: 13 March 2012, 19:38