Astronomy at the Aurora Borealis Observatory
For the 2020/21 Aurora Borealis season starting in September we have an exciting new service to offer our lucky guests, stargazing with our new telescopes. Our new astronomy and photography duo, Jacqueline & Matt, have allowed us to expand our guest experiences at the Aurora Borealis Observatory. Our location in Senja, Norway, is not only perfect for a northern lights holiday, we are distant enough from light pollution that we have spectacular star filled skies above our resort. Therefore, it was a no brainer for us to invest in telescopes to add to the exciting services we already offer our guests.
Telescopes are optical instruments that make distant objects appear magnified by using an arrangement of lenses or curved mirrors. The larger the mirror or lens means the more magnification you can apply; the magnification is applied by the eyepiece that you look through. It’s an incredibly simple design and one that hasn’t really changed for hundreds of years.
The telescopes we will be using are the Skywatcher Skyliner 300p model, Skywatcher are a world renowned and trusted telescope brand who formed in the 90s. These telescopes are a wonderfully simple design that have an extremely quick set up time, our Astronomer Matt has hundreds of hours of experience using these exact telescopes. “In the years I have been doing astronomy these telescopes are my most favourite that I have used, they are manual which means you have to find the objects between the stars yourself. It’s fantastic fun and a wonderful way to learn more about astronomy.”
Here are our astronomer’s top 5 objects that you will be able to observe on your visit to the Aurora Borealis Observatory this coming season.
We all know the Moon, we see it for a few weeks every single month as it orbits around the Earth once every 27 days, this is how we get our months. Each full Moon would be used by ancient civilisations to count the months throughout the year and assist them in knowing which seasons were oncoming, this would in turn help them with planning their harvest. This is why we have the Harvest Moon close to the autumnal equinox as this was the best time to harvest crops. Throughout the year every full Moon has a special name as a reference point to that particular time of year. Because we know of the Moon from a very young age, when you look at it magnified through a telescope it’s like seeing an old friend but closer and finding a new level of beauty. We know the Moon will be one of our guest’s favorite objects to observe through our new telescopes for the astronomy service.
The Orion Nebula is the centrepiece of the winter constellation of the same name, we see this rising in the late autumn and rising higher and higher into the winter. Below the three famous stars of Orion’s Belt you can see a faint, diffuse patch of light with your naked eye, but through a telescope this object comes to life. The Orion Nebula is a star forming region in space 1,344 light years away, deep within it the molecular hydrogen is coalescing to eventually form stars, our Sun will have been born in a region like this around 4.6 billion years ago! The Orion region of the sky is an incredibly fascinating part of the sky and one we will spend plenty time on over the season.
The Double Cluster in Perseus is an absolute treat to observe through our telescopes, the two dense, open clusters of stars will come alive and astound our guests at the Aurora Borealis Observatory when we find them with our telescopes. Through the autumn and winter seasons they will be high up in our aurora borealis filled dark skies and in a perfect position to observe them. We use the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus to find this treasure chest of stars, drawing a line straight from Cassiopeia to Perseus will allow you to find the clusters in the middle of the two. They sit in around 7,500 light years away from the Earth and each contain between 300 – 400 bright stars in them.
Did you know the closest galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy is visible with the naked eye from the Aurora Borealis Observatory? It sits in space around 2.5 million light years away from the Earth and contains around 1 trillion stars, that is twice the number that we have in our own galaxy! We are very excited to be able to show our guests this object through our telescope, the farthest object they will have seen in their lives.
The Pleiades are probably the most well-known cluster of stars in our skies, they sit in the constellation of Taurus to the right of the brightest star, Aldebaran and are 444 light years away. The Pleiades have been observed throughout millennia and their rising in the summer in the Mediterranean have been used as an indicator as calmer weather for sailing. There are around 3,000 stars in the Pleiades, but we know them due to the seven brightest stars being visible with the naked eye. These stars are named after the Seven Sisters in Greek Mythology who were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione.
We are very proud to start up with the new service: Astronomy at the Aurora Borealis Observatory