The EYE ON THE SKY AstroCruises (TM) Page
"... and at night they were to dance in the open air, on the upper deck, in the midst of a ballroom that stretched from horizon to horizon, and was domed by the bending heavens and lighted by no meaner lamps than the stars and the magnificent moon — dance and promenade, and smoke, and sing, and make love, and search the skies for constellations that never associate with the Big Dipper ..."
— Mark Twain, in The Innocents Abroad (1867), writing about his experience aboard Quaker City on what might be considered historically to be the first American-origin commercial voyage to qualify as a "pleasure cruise" AstroCruises (TM)
No astronomy training or experience is necessary. All cruises include daytime astronomy lectures and also schedule evening "naked-eye" shipboard stargazing sessions. They all take place on regularly scheduled cruises (not charters) and so have all the regular cruise ship activites and amenities — the perfect entertaining and educational vacation (and a great compromise solution if everyone traveling with you isn't a big astronomy fan)!
Lecturers have presented EYE ON THE SKY® astronomy programs aboard Celebrity, Clipper, Cruise West, Crystal, Cunard, Fred Olsen, Hapag-Lloyd, Holland America, Oceania, Orient Lines, P & O Australia, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, ResidenSea, Royal Caribbean, Saga, Seabourn, Silversea, Travel Dynamics International (Classical Cruises) and Windjammer Barefoot cruise ships.
EYE ON THE SKY® astronomy articles have appeared in shipboard magazines for Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Holland America, Radisson (now Regent) Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Sun cruise lines and in Porthole magazine. We've also written and edited articles for the Cruise Critic Web site.
Total countries/territories (as recognized by Travelers' Century Club) visited by 64 AstroCruises (TM) to date:
Total countries/territories when the next 2 confirmed AstroCruises (TM) are included:
Future AstroCruises (TM)
A dark sky at sea gives an excellent opportunity to spot dim objects and phenomena such as the Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxy (two million light-years away, the farthest object visible with the naked eye), the zodiacal light and gegenschein (best times to see zodiacal light north of the tropics are an hour or two after sunset during the waning moon in March-April and an hour or two before sunrise during the waxing moon in September-October, for south of the tropics the reverse is true, and around November 15-20 (also the peak of the Leonid meteor shower) gegenschein is located between the Pleiades and Hyades), auroras, noctilucent clouds and faint meteors and satellites. Change your latitude and see celestial sights you won't see at home — the southern hemisphere has stars, galaxies and globular star clusters you won't see in North America and Europe, and the Far North and Antarctica have atmospheric phenomena in summer unseen in other locations. Also, the flat sea horizon is an excellent place to spot the green flash.
Each year we seek to offer a wide variety of cruise styles (luxury, premium, family and adventure), lengths (generally 10 to 21 days), ship sizes (44 to 3600 passengers) and costs (from money-is-no-object to bargain, sometimes starting at less than $100/day). The following is a list of upcoming celestial events and potential AstroCruises (TM) destinations. Periodic Events
2013-2020 Total Eclipses of the Sun
- Dark-Sky New Moon cruises to warm and interesting places. Look for the month's last old crescent moon, first young crescent moon and earthshine.
- Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and Polynesia tropical cruises to see more and different stars than can be seen in the mainland U. S. and Europe (including Alpha Centauri, our solar system's nearest neighboring star, and the Southern Cross) and the sun and moon directly overhead.
- Annual Perseid, Geminid and Quadrantid Meteor Shower cruises in August, December and January, but only when forecasts and moon phases are favorable.
- Annual End-of-Season High Latitude cruises — Antarctica after mid-January, Far North (Alaska/North Atlantic/Baltic) after mid-August, and coinciding with the new and crescent moons — for auroras, noctilucent clouds, polar-orbiting/high-latitude satellites and daytime atmospheric phenomena such as parahelia ("sundogs") and sun pillars.
- Occasional Southern Hemisphere cruises to see naked-eye celestial sights unseen in the mainland U. S. and Europe: Alpha Centauri and Southern Cross above the horizon all night; Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (the two galaxies closest to our own and visible with the naked eye); Omega Centauri (about ten million stars in the largest and brightest globular cluster in our galaxy, almost as old as the universe itself) and second brightest globular cluster 47 Tucanae; and 26 new constellations created when Dutch and French astronomers first charted the southern stars. There's also a meteor shower in May, the Eta Aquarids, that is best seen south of the equator.
- Partial and Total Solar Eclipse cruises. Solar eclipses take place during the new moon, the best time of month for stargazing because night skies are darkest.
- Total Lunar Eclipse cruises. Cruises that embark shortly before a total lunar eclipse not only begin with one of the year's best celestial events, they take advantage of the waning moon for stargazing in increasingly dark skies during the rest of the cruise. There are total two each lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015.
- Occasional Comet cruises. According to the International Comet Quarterly of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, since 1935 on average we have been able to view a comet brighter than second magnitude about once every 5-6 years (three of seven Big Dipper Stars are brighter than 2.0 magnitude), a comet brighter than first magnitude every 10 years or so (only 15 stars are about 1.0 magnitude or brighter), and a comet brighter than zero magnitude roughly once every 15 years (only two nighttime stars are noticeably brighter than 0.0 magnitude). Comet McNaught, the brightest comet in more than 40 years (more than a hundred times brighter than Hale-Bopp, brighter even than Venus and so bright that it was visible in the daytime) was discovered 7 August 2006 and only became visible to the naked-eye in late December before reaching peak brightness 14 January 2007. Ephemerides and recent observations are available from the IAU Minor Planet Center
- Tropical and Southern Hemisphere 21 Club cruises at times and places to spot all 21 first-magnitude stars in a single night during the cruise.
- Transequatorial cruises that span 60 or more degrees of latitude, allowing views of many more constellations and other celestial sights than at any single location. Often one can see a noticeable difference in the location of stars and constellations from night to night. At the southernmost point in the voyage the Southern Cross is above the horizon all night and the North Star is always below the horizon, and at the northernmost point it is the North Star above the horizon all night and the Southern Cross always below the horizon. During the voyage the sun will be directly overhead one day, some days will pass across the northern half of the sky and other days pass across the southern half. The moon, in addition to its daily change of illumination on its face, will appear to "flip" its orientation during the voyage.
- Dry Season Clear-Sky cruises during a particular region's most cloud-free time of year. Generally, it's the Caribbean and Pacific Mexico/Central America in December-April (with an extended season in the Mexican Riviera, Baja California, Dutch "ABC" Islands and Venezuela, and a shorter season in Caribbean Central America) and the Mediterranean in May-September (with an extended season in the eastern Mediterranean).
- Shore Excursions and other opportunities to visit world-class planetariums, science museums and significant astronomical heritage sites such as modern, historic and ancient observatories.
- The total solar eclipses of 2016, 2017 and 2020 may be relatively painless to construct itineraries around, but those of 2013 (Atlantic west of Africa) 2015 (springtime in the North Atlantic and Arctic) and 2019 (midwinter in the South Pacific) won't be.
- Here is a map of total solar eclipses 2001-2025
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EYE ON THE SKY is a trademark of EYE ON THE SKY News Service.
AstroCruise (TM), AstroCruises (TM)is a trademark of EYE ON THE SKY News Service.
URL of this page: http://www.astrocruises.com
E-mail for details: astrocruises (at) hotmail.com
Phone: (609) 530-9877 (USA country code is +1)
Last update: January 2013