What Will I See?
Away from the light pollution of the city lights, we are afforded a much clearer view of objects in our night sky, and detail which simply was not visible in the suburbs can be seen. This is especially true of the “faint fuzzies” like galaxies and nebulae, which are generally lost in the suburban glare. Depending on sky conditions and time of year, we can reasonably expect to see examples of everything from planets to clusters to nebulae, and perhaps even a glimpse of some distant galaxies. We’ll look at some of the brighter constellations that will be visible from the suburbs, and examine some of the more interesting objects within them. Of course, if you already own a telescope, you are always welcome to bring it along to the tour and see the difference a dark sky can make!
When is the Best Time to Go?
Tours can run at any time of month, but the objects that are best observed changes with the phase of the Moon. Dates around first quarter allow us to get a good look at some of the crater detail along the Lunar terminator (the line that separates the day and night sides of the Moon), while still being dark enough to see some of the brighter deep-sky objects, such as globular clusters and some bright nebulae. During the third quarter phase, the Moon doesn’t rise until late in the evening, which means that the sky will stay relatively dark. This allows us to get a good look at some of those fainter objects that light pollution normally obscures. Of course the best time for tours is around the New Moon, as the skies are at their darkest, and faint objects such as nebulae and galaxies are at their best.
Each tour generally begins around sunset with a brief presentation that highlights some of the different kinds of objects we might see, and how they fit into the ‘big picture’. Then, as stars begin to appear and our eyes begin to adjust to the dark, we’ll get our bearings by taking a look at some of the brighter constellations that you may be able to see from the suburbs. Finally, as the sky becomes truly dark, we can begin observing using our 8″ computerised telescope, and try to track down various examples of the kinds of objects that were covered in the presentation.
All up, you can expect this to last perhaps two to three hours, depending on conditions.
What does it Cost?
Current prices for a 2-3 hour night sky tour are:
Family2 Adults + 2 Children
Children (6-16 yrs)
- A minimum of four participants is required for a night sky tour.
- Please dress warmer than you think for your night sky tour! Astronomy generally takes place in cool night air, in the open, and with low activity levels. It’s easier to dress well and stay warm, rather than try to get warm if you start to feel cold.
- Astronomy is a very weather-dependent activity! When booking, please provide a return email address and a telephone number so that you can be contacted in the event of weather cancellation. (We use SkippySky and the Bureau of Meteorology for weather forecasts.)
- A final call on weather will be made on the day of the tour. In the event that forecasts look grim, you will be notified of the expected weather conditions and the choice given to cancel/postpone your tour.
Help us Achieve our Goals!
BrightStar Astronomy is operated as a social enterprise with the primary goal of providing people (and especially students) with an in-person, hands-on experience with astronomy. We hope to use our amazing, globally-shared day and night skies to encourage more people to become actively engaged with science in general and amateur astronomy in particular. In order to maximise our ability to achieve this goal, we are currently offering visits to schools within 250 kilometers of Brisbane at no charge.
If you would like to assist us in accomplishing this lofty goal, and keeping our service free of charge to students, we would be extremely grateful if you would consider leaving a small donation. Alternatively, if you would like to offer sponsorship or in-kind support, please do not hesitate to contact us!
BrightStar Astronomy is currently supported by the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, an Australian Government initiative