Posts Tagged ‘Princess Cruises’

Tomorrow (Friday 25 November) I am boarding a plane which will eventually get me to Brisbane (Australia), via Seoul. Yes, I’m aware that Brisbane is not New Zealand, but in Brisbane I am joining a cruise which is going around New Zealand. The cruise will last for 14 nights, and I will give about 6 talks during the two weeks.


The Princess Cruise leaves Brisbane on 27 November and returns on 11 December. I will be giving astronomy talks on the 14-night cruise.

This will be the 5th cruise which I’ve done with Princess, and the 6th in total. The last time I did a cruise in the southern hemisphere was in February, when I cruised from Buenos Aires to Santiago around Cape Horn. Unfortunately, during that 14-night cruise, we had only one clear night! I am hoping for better weather this time, as in addition to my talks I run star parties to show the guests what is visible in the night-time sky. 

Many of the guests will probably be from Europe or the United States, and so will be very keen to see the Southern Cross. I will also show them the Magellanic Clouds if weather permits. The New Moon is on the 29 November, so the first week of the cruise will be ideal to see the Magellanic Clouds if the skies are clear. After that, the brightening moon will render them all by invisible. So, fingers crossed we get some clear skies during the first week!

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By the time you read this I should be on an aeroplane flying from London to Los Angeles, and then on to Honolulu. I am returning to Honolulu for the first time since 1990; and both then and now my visits are for astronomical reasons. This time, I am joining a cruise to give astronomy lectures; the cruise goes from Honolulu and ends (for me) in Tahiti, twelve days later. Here is the route.

I have been asked to give four talks, and these will be during the “sea days” which come as we sail south from the Hawaiian islands to the southern Polynesian islands. Given that there are five sea days, I am not sure why I haven’t been asked to give five, but I always plan to do a few extra just in case. The lectures I will be giving will be

  • What we can see in the sky during this cruise
  • Why is Hawai’i such a good place to do astronomy?
  • The oldest light in the Universe – what is it and how was it discovered?
  • Why was Captain Cook in Tahiti in June 1769?

I also, on the days that I give lectures, run star parties on the top deck so that people can see the stars and planets. The only planets visible really during this cruise are Saturn (in the evening) and Venus (in the morning). This will be my fourth cruise, and my third with Princess, and I have found previously that the main problem in running the star parties is that they won’t turn off the lights on the top deck (for safety reasons), so seeing faint things like the Magellanic clouds becomes essentially impossible. I will see if I can persuade them to turn them off in specific places for my star parties this time.

I will, of course, take lots of photographs of the beautiful islands I will be visiting, so expect a few blogs to come about from those in the future.

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