Earth and Sky – Mt John Observatory Stargazing
Whether you are an experienced stargazer or a complete celestial novice the various tours offered by Earth and Sky will appeal to you.
Located in the town of Lake Tekapo on the South Island, Earth and Sky are the only stargazing business that are permitted to visit the nearby Mount John Observatory during the night and operate a small, enthusiastic business that caters for groups of around 20 people at a time.
Before booking any trip with them you need to know the following:
Six Tips for Mt John Observatory Stargazing
1) In order to see the stars you need a clear night so check the weather before you book online. Please note that if the weather changes and clouds arrive the tour will still go ahead (there are NO refunds) but it will be more centered around the workings of the observatory.
2) As well as checking the weather also check what phase the moon is in. If you are a moon lover then a full moon will provide you with a chance to see the detail of our closest planet through a telescope but it’s light does diffuse the stars so be warned. If the stars are what you crave then book for when a new moon is due and the heavens will be clear.
3) Dress for the winter. It is very chilly on the mountain at night and luckily Earth and Sky provide warm jackets, but not everyone likes to wear a coat that has been worn by a thousand different people.
4) If you have a Digital SLR camera ensure that you take it with you so that the astro photographers can mount them on their equipment and leave you with a memory you will always treasure. You do not need a tripod or monopod just leave the pictures to them.
5) You do not need to take a torch as Earth and Sky provide you with a solar powered, red laser pointer key ring so that you can see where you are going. There are no lights permitted on the observatory and the enthusiastic guides will illustrate the important relationship between the town of Lake Tekapo and the observatory scientists in preserving their ‘dark sky’ award.
6) The best tour to book is the Mount John Observatory tour from all the options presented. This is slightly better than the twilight tour as there is the opportunity to see Saturn through a telescope!