Just because you love to spend your holiday time at sea, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a little time reaching for the stars while doing it. Depending on where you choose to travel from and to, there’s a number of opportunities for star-gazing, whether you’re an astronomical enthusiast who can give Professor Brian Cox a run for his money, or simply if you’ve a passing interest and are looking for interesting shore excursions or fascinating ways to spend some of your time on the ocean.
Cape Canaveral –USA
The hub of US space exploration, the Kennedy Space Centre is situated on the Cape Kennedy headland, and has got to be at the top of most space enthusiasts’ must-see lists. If you book a cruise which includes Port Canaveral on its itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to see it for yourself, as it’s a popular shore excursion for a number of cruise lines which visit the port. Another good option is to book a cruise and stay in the region. Being close to both Disney World and Seaworld too, there’s no shortage of hotels and it will give you a full day to explore. Situated on what’s known as the USA’s Space Coast, the Kennedy Space Center is of course the site of every NASA space flight since 1968 and its Visitor Complex one of the region’s top tourist attractions. Packed with all manner of exhibits, displays and vintage spacecraft, the centre also runs tours of a launch complex and a simulated shuttle launch experience.
Tromso, Norway – Northern Lights Planetarium
Regarded as the best place from which to view the Aurora Borealis, the famous Northern Lights, Tromso is a regular port of call on any cruise which explores arctic Norway. Most cruise lines offer excursions to the Northern Lights Planetarium in the town and it’s from here that you can view the natural phenomenon in all its glory.
Caribbean cruises are among the most popular, so no matter where and when you choose to travel, there’s ample opportunity to stargaze as you travel between ports. You’ll be close to the equator in the Tropic of Cancer, the Caribbean seas are a great way to view the constellations of Aquarius, Eridanus and Canis Minor. If you want to indulge in a spot of amateur astronomy while on land, be sure to book a cruise which visits Southern Caribbean islands such as Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent, which enjoy virtually no light pollution. If you explore the Caribbean on-board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in November or December, there are four cruises which will offer astronomy programs, hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society.
Haleakala National Park – Hawaii
Perfect for stargazing due to their remote location in the North Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian islands are one of the world’s leading destinations for astronomers. The island of Maui is the home of Haleakala National Park where Mount Haleakala can be found and it’s a great spot from which to view the Milky Way, Jupiter’s bands and the constellation of Orion.
By Simon Brotherton