Why you should join me in Costa Rica

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Southern Hemisphere Milky Way, with its myriad deep-sky objects, is spectacular. ESO

The great astronomer Bart Bok, who defined our knowledge of the Milky Way Galaxy, used to say that when it came to astronomical observing, “All the good stuff is in the southern sky.” He said it with a twinkle in his eye, but it wasn’t much of an exaggeration. 

A mere 15 percent of Earth’s inhabitants live in the Southern Hemisphere, but a majority of amazingly bright, eye-popping deep-sky objects lie deep in the southern sky. 

That’s one reason you should join me as I accompany a group to observe the southern sky in Costa Rica this coming February 27–March 6. 

I’ve taken many observing trips in my life, but this is among the very best anywhere. My first time to Costa Rica last year left me floored with the amazing views of Crux, Carina, the Magellanic Clouds, Canopus, the Coal Sack, the Carina Nebula, and much, much more. 

The group will fly into San José, which is just a 2-1/2-hour flight from Miami, and travel the next day to a fantastic and comfortable star lodge on the country’s western coast. It is a charming location, on a privately owned, sprawling plantation, and offers horseback riding, world-class birding, exploring, hiking, swimming, and adventuring, and of course amazingly dark skies filled with treats you just don’t see from the north. The climate is warm — highs are typically in the 90s and lows in the 70s F. 

The group will have a variety of telescopes along. Travelers are encouraged to bring their own scopes, binoculars, and cameras, but telescopes will be there that you can look through. 

Among the momentous views of the sky during our five nights at the star lodge will be the darkening of the sky and the southern Milky Way rising. 

You’ll see the brilliant Carina Nebula, which dwarfs the Orion Nebula in size and brightness. 

You’ll see the brilliant star Canopus rising. 

You’ll see the Southern Cross, the amazing dark nebula called the Coalsack, and the brilliant open cluster called the Jewel Box.

You will catch a glimpse of some amazing deep-sky objects you may never have heard of: open clusters that would be killer Messier objects in the northern sky, like NGC 2516 and IC 2602, the Southern Pleiades. 

How about the sky’s brightest globular star cluster, Omega Centauri? Or the nearby peculiar galaxy Centaurus A? 

Or the closest star to the Sun, Alpha Centauri, which we now know has a planetary system, just 4.3 light-years away? 

The list goes on and on and on . . . 

I will be observing with our group and giving a couple of talks throughout the week on observing, binoculars, imaging, galaxies, the universe, etc. etc. 

For more on the trip and for booking info, see:

http://astronomy.com/magazine/trips-tours/2019-costa-rica

I will see you there for some of the best deep-sky observing of your life!!! Don’t miss it!!! 

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