Stargazing Tour

Steve Owens is a professional stargazer, dark skies consultant, and author of the book “Stargazing for Dummies”. He has worked as a science communicator for over a decade, having run the Glasgow planetarium for many years, and in 2009 was UK manager for the International Year of Astronomy. He was presented with the Federation of Astronomical Societies 2010 award for Outstanding Achievement in Astronomy, the Campaign for Dark Skies 2010 award for Efforts in Dark Sky Preservation, and the International Dark-skies Association’s Dark Sky Defender 2011 award. He was also short-listed for the UK Space Conference’s 2010 Arthur Clarke award, and was a 2011 Winston Churchill Traveling Fellow.

On this stargazing tour you will have the opportunity to stargaze from a truly unique place – St Helena. The island is steeped in astronomical history, and you’ll visit the sites of Halley’s observatory (he of comet fame), as well as those of the other astronomers who have visited St Helena over the centuries. Its location near the equator means that virtually every constellation in the sky is visible at one time or another from St Helena, and visitors from the UK will be amazed to see a whole new collection of stars in the southern hemisphere that simply aren’t visible from Europe: the famous Southern Cross, the Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic centre of the Milky Way.

Stargazing Tour Itinerary

4 May – 22 May 2015

4 May
Depart Cape Town. Meet your tour guide and fellow passengers

5-8 May
On board the RMS St Helena

9 May
Arrive St Helena and check into your accommodation. In the afternoon there is a guided Historic Town Walk, visiting the Cenotaph, Jacobs Ladder, Castle Gardens and St James Church. Dinner in Jamestown.

10 May
In the morning, we visit the site of the new airport followed by an afternoon visit to the Arboretum. In the evening, there is a sunset picnic on the Western side of the Island followed by Stargazing.

11 May
Morning visit to Observatory sites on the island. The site of Edmund Halley’s observatory, who arrived in 1673 to map the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, provides great views of Longwood. Dr Neville Maskelyne came to to island in 1760 to study the transit of Venus over the Sun’s disk. He was later Astronomer Royal.
In the afternoon we visit The Millennium Forest. Almost 5000 gumwood trees were planted as a conservation initiative to mark the millennium. You can help to make this forest the Great Wood it once was by planting an endemic Gumwood Tree. In the evening we take a guided forest walk Spiders by Night. We end the day with a traditional ‘Plo’ the St Helenian version of Pilau.

12 May
Today we take a full day 4×4 excursion to visit the less explored parts of the island. Dinner in Jamestown followed by Stargazing.

13 May
Early this morning we take a sunrise Dolphin Watching trip, which includes coastal sightseeing. Free afternoon. This evening we enjoy a home hosted dinner, followed by Stargazing.

14 May
Morning Napoloenic Tour to include Briars Pavillion and Longwood House. The French Emperor was exiled here from 1815 until he died in 1821. In the afternoon visit Princes Lodge to view The Castell Collection, containing old lithhograms and prints of St Helena. Tonight we have a night time tour of High Knoll Fort with a picnic dinner and Stargazing afterwards. High Knoll Fort commands superb views across much of the Island.

15 May
Morning tour to SHAPE Centre. St Helena’s Active Participation in Enterprise (SHAPE). Opened in late 2008, this centre is the HQ of a new initiative which employs people with disabilities to produce local, quality crafts. In the afternoon there is a tour of a coffee plantation, where the rarest coffee in the world is produced. This evening we take a Stargazing Stroll finishing with a home hosted dinner (donation required).

16 May
Guided walk to Diana’s Peak with the ’Bug Man’. Diana’s Peak rises 823 metres above sea level and is the highest point on St Helena. It is here in the National Park that many of the island’s endemic plant species find refuge. We also visit Plantation House grounds to see Jonathan the Tortoise, St Helena’s oldest inhabitant. In the evening we visit the St Helena Distillery where you can sample Tungi spirit, White Lion rum, Midnight Mist coffee liqueur, and the Island’s own Juniper flavoured gin. Dinner included.

17 May
Depart St Helena

18-21 May
on board the RMS St Helena

22 May
Arrive Cape Town – End of tour

Prices

T2H T2 T1
TOTAL 2695 3057 4185

Price includes – Return sea passage Cape Town/St Helena/Cape Town in shared upper/lower, twin or single cabin on A deck with private facilities (see relevant grade cabin) and all meals on board; accommodation on St Helena in a shared twin room with private facilities; breakfast; programme of tours, activities, entrance fees; evening meals as shown.

Not included – Air flights to Cape Town; accommodation in Cape Town before/after tour; entry permit to St Helena; items of personal expenditure

On island tour content, order of sightseeing and activities are subject to local conditions and may change before/on arrival. Please note the Stargazing Tour will only operate if minimum numbers are reached. Please call for latest booking position and for prices for other cabin types, including cabins with shared facilities or upgrades to B deck cabins. Prices shown are per person.

5 Day Pre-tour Extension

Stargazing in the Western Cape

We are offering a unique opportunity to combine St Helena with a guided tour to visit the Southern Africa Large Telescope and Stargazing in the Western Cape!

Day 1 – 30 April
Arrive Cape Town at Cape Town International Airport. Meet your tour guide and fellow passengers. Depart by minibus for Sutherland with guiding en route. Check into accommodation at Kambro Kind Guest House. Dinner at Sterland followed by stargazing.

Day 2 – 1 May
Breakfast at Kambro Kind with guided tour of Sutherland afterwards. Light lunch at Halley-se-Kom-Eet restaurant followed by a visit to the South African Astronomical Observatories (SAAO) telescopes outside Sutherland for a guided tour of the facilities, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). Dinner at the Sutherland Hotel followed by stargazing at Sterland.

Day 3 – 2 May
Breakfast at Kambro Kind followed by an excursion to Ouberg Pass where we will have lunch in the form a traditional South African braai (barbeque). Dinner at Cluster d’Hote restaurant followed by stargazing at Sterland.

Day 4 – 3 May
Breakfast at Kambro Kind after which we depart for Cape Town. Stop at the Historic Matjiesfontein. Stop for a light snack in Worcester. On arrival in Cape Town, visit the SAAO Headquarters in Observatory for a guided walking tour. Drive to Grove School to view the Herschel Monument. Book in at hotel in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The rest of the evening is free.

Day 5 – 4 May
After breakfast transport will be available to transfer guests from the hotel to the RMS St Helena which sails at 14:00.

From £915 per person, based on sharing a twin room,  all accommodation and meals as mentioned in the itinerary, entry fees and guiding fees. Tour content, sightseeing and activities are subject to change due to local conditions. A single supplement will apply, please contact us for price variations.