People go on cruises for many reasons. Some like to visit several port cities in a short period of time without having to pay to fly to each one. Others enjoy luxuriating in a pool all day with even more calm waters surrounding what’s essentially their huge luxurious raft. Cruises are fun ways to combining dancing, eating, gambling and other activities into one memorable vacation. And, they can be excellent opportunities for gazing out at the starry sky, if that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat. Stargazing on cruise ships may, in fact, be the best way to view the sky at night. Out in the ocean, where no lights interfere between your eyes and the heavens, you might see more celestial wonders than you could ever imagine.
Think about what you see when you typically look up at the sky. Depending on where you live, you might view the moon and a few stars, and perhaps a planet or 2. If you’re in a remote place away from a brightly lit city, you may be lucky enough to witness hundreds of stars at a time and a 3 or 4 planets. Consider, though, that the earth is mostly water and out in the water, there is no light disturbance to block out the brilliance of space. This is where the interested stargazer wants to go to experience the magnificence of the Milky Way.
On a cruise ship out at least 10 miles from land, but preferably 25 or more, you can view thousands of stars, a handful of planets, and even the Andromeda galaxy some 2 million light years away – all with the naked eye!
To get the most out of stargazing on a cruise ship, there are some tips you should follow.
Book a cruise that sails far from shore.
The further you get from the lights of civilization, the more sights of the universe you’ll see. Ocean crossings and world cruises are perfect cruises for stargazing. Even if these types of cruises aren’t in your budget, you can see some pretty amazing things at a distance of around 5 miles from shore.
Where you’re going matters.
How far north or south (your latitude) of the equator you’re cruising impacts what you see in the sky. Depending on where you are on earth, you might see stars, planets and constellations that your friends on another cruise ships won’t see. If they’re looking for the Southern Cross in the sky, for instance, they’d better head travel with you on a cruise that stays south of the Tropic of Cancer, which runs roughly between Key West, Florida and Cuba.
Travel at the right time.
Certain times of the year are better for viewing the northern lights, for example. To catch a glimpse of this fantastic phenomena, you’ll want to venture out on a North Atlantic, Scandinavian or Alaskan cruise sometime after late August, when there’s extreme darkness at night and very little moonlight. The darkest point in the lunar cycle is when the moon begins its new cycle and isn’t visible at night.
Of course, you should go to the darkest part of your cruise ship to view the night sky, like the area in front of the bridge in middle of the evening.
Have you ever tried stargazing on a cruise ship? If so, did you see anything that left you in awe? We’d love to see some stories in the comments below.