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News Updates » 29 October 2009


Jupiter Ho ! …from aboard a Cruise Ship!

I had the great fortune to be a guest speaker aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship for her two week journey from Los Angeles, California to Hawaii during the Galilean Nights! When we were not in port, I gave a total of seven presentations on Astronomy and Space Exploration topics. I wasn’t sure what kind of attendance I would receive with all the distractions of a luxurious cruise ship, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found I had a strong following of over 100 people looking forward to each talk.

We also had the great fortune to have two clear moonless nights to observe from 25 degrees latitude, which put Jupiter high in the sky! The Princess cruise ship graciously provided an 8″ Dobsonian telescope and a place on the top deck to view from. The Cruise Director and his staff fully supported and encouraged my efforts to bring the exciting world of Astronomy to the passengers.

Clearly, it’s always a challenge to observe from a moving ship, but with a wide angle lens and patient passengers anxious to see Jupiter and its moons for the first time – both viewings turned out to be a great success! Over the two nights 85 happy passengers were heard to exclaim “Oh Wow!”, “That’s really Jupiter?”, “I can’t believe I’m seeing another planet!”

Everyone was also treated to a sky show, where I showed them how to find the North Star using Cassiopeia, view the Pleiades through binoculars, trace out the Summer Triangle, discover the Pegasus constellation and be completely in awe on seeing the farthest object a person can see with their eyes – the Andromeda Galaxy!

It was a great time to enjoy Astronomy and a great cruise too!

Just today, I received an email from a passenger thanking me for inspiring them and that they’re now looking for their own telescope.

I was so busy adjusting the telescope on the rocking deck and managing the crowds that I never had a chance to take any pictures. (I was also reluctant to disturb their acquired night vision.) Included are a few pictures from other parts of the voyage.

Paul Cirillo