Day 198 on the Road
The Earth & Sky Stargazing Tour
Today we’re stargazing in an International Dark Sky Reserve in Lake Tekapo! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand, then head on over to our epic YouTube Channel.
Today we’re going to be going to an observatory in one of the best stargazing sites in the world. Boom.
Today we are waking up on the short of beautiful Lake Tekapo. it is a stunning lake it is a stunning area and we are really lucky because today our tour stars at 12am, literally at midnight, so we have the entire day to explore the area and just relax and take a bit of time to catch our breath after doing so many activities around New Zealand.
During lunch time we are receiving a visit from the local residents of the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park they are a couple of ducks and apparently they are really used to humans and are basically feel that they can come inside the campervan to steal our food from us. Laura and I are guarding out food fiercely though so they are not even attempting to come inside the campervan.
Brushing that off, we are now getting ourselves ready toward the base of Earth & Sky which is the company that we are going to be joining for a tour tonight. They’re gonna take us to the Mt John Observatory which is a world renowned area for stargazing as well as an astronomy facility.
Once we arrive at Earth & Sky we are given some US Antarctic Jackets that actually went to Antarctica I don’t know how cold it’s gonna get on Mt John but we definitely prepared.
I feel like I’ve been given a massive hug. I don’t know how I’m meant to stay awake tonight. I could just fall asleep anywhere with this jacket on.
We then hop onto a bus and make our way to the Mount John Observatory which actually halfway up the mountain the bus driver has to switch off the lights so that he is literally driving in the dark to get to the top. he’s done this a few times so guess he knows what he’s doing.
We are also given a few house rules of tonight’s tour which involves having no white light not even on your camera or on your phone we have to solely rely on these little red torches that were given from Earth & Sky to see where we’re going. That’s why it is a little difficult to see the footage that we are bringing you this evening but I hope you get an idea of what the tour is like nevertheless.
No, no, no let’s be honest our footage is just absolute crap but you guys are lucky we’re gonna tell you everything that is happening to us starting with the first part of our tour which is a naked eye orientation of the night sky. our guide is pointing us out a tonne of different areas different star clusters and telling us what they are. Then we are heading toward some telescopes in which we’re gonna be able to see some really close up space objects. And that’s really when things get super interesting. On top of seeing the Southern Cross really up close we get to see items that area only seen in the Southern Hemisphere such as the small and the large Magellan Clouds. It’s really cool to be able to see those two cloudy patches in the sky which represent some massive amount of stars galaxies, planets and heaps of potential life.
We then move onto the Dome telescopes which are massive buildings built right here on the Mt John Observatory for scientific purposes but we get unique access to them to be able to see some even further space objects and see them even more up-close.
We obviously have a guide right here who is setting up everything for us and telling us how to use them. It’s really cool.
We both get a chance to have a look through the dome telescope at some of the oldest objects we’re likely to ever see in our lives including some globular clusters which are 10-12 billion years old.
We’re learning so much at the Mt John Observatory from all the guides here who are actually also trained astronomers. Not only do they actually have all the knowledge but their super passionate about what they’re doing and that makes the tour so much better.
What happens for the rest of this 2-hour tour is that we’re moving between different telescopes and stations to see different objects of the night sky.
And we’re in an International Dark Sky Reserve meaning that these are some of the darkest skies in the world so that we get the clearest views of the night sky.
Each of the telescopes has been set up by the team at Earth & Sky just to make sure that we’re having the best view of every object that they want us to see.
They scan the sky permanently to try and find something different for us to see so we get to go to the same telescope multiple times and see different objects.
They are super high tech telescopes that they control with a bit of a remote and that’s a huge improvement from the really early telescopes that they used to use right here in the Mt John Observatory where they first started to explore the night sky. We get to see them before leaving and I’m really happy that we got to use their high tech ones because they look so much better.
Back on the bus, we are now making our way our campervan and the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park with actually stars in our eyes. I did not know that we could see so clearly the night sky and get to see so closely space objects. I am absolutely in awe that was a unique experience.
We saw a massive amount of space objects and constellations and all of that it was incredible and yet on camera we can barely show you anything which is very very very sad so please trust us. there were a lot to see.