Flight To Comet Sold Out But There Are Other Options

Astronomers are calling 2013 “the year of the comet” as the first of two comets set to swing by Earth comes within view of the naked eye. Some avid sky watchers may be viewing with binoculars. Others may get an even closer view, thanks to a German travel agency.

On March 16, Eclipse Travel of Bonn, Germany, will have Air Berlin’s flight 1000 full of stargazers, giving them two hours closer to the comet than anyone else on the planet.

The company will fill just 88 of the 144 seats on board the Boeing 737-700, allowing everyone to have a window view at an average ticket price of $500 per person, reports TravelMole.

Wish you had booked a seat? Is astronomy your passion? You have options.

Closer to home, Spears Travel of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a Sky & Telescope’s Iceland Aurora Adventure set for April 7. Currently, the event is also sold out, but they are accepting names for a waiting list. The seven-night astronomy adventure to view the northern lights in Iceland sold for $2995 per person.Eclipse Tours of Houston, Texas, has more options, planning trips through 2015. Providing guided expeditions of astronomical events throughout the world, Eclipse Tours is the home of Ring of Fire Expeditions (ROFE), the longest consecutive astronomical tour organization in the United States.

This year, Eclipse will visit the island of Tarawa, Kiribati, for its 41st Annular Solar Eclipse Tour in May and space is still available. Another tour heads to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific’s Solomon Islands for a post-eclipse tour.

Even more exotic, Melitatrips, a Travel + Leisure world’s best-award winner, takes the road less traveled for stargazing excursions from Argentina to Zimbabwe. This year, Melitatrips has a Kenya Total Solar Eclipse Safari promising unrivaled views “from the place where man was born,” according to its website. An English Astronomers Tour returns to where the greatest scientific researchers once lived and worked, with stops in London and surrounding towns of Bath, Cambridge and Oxford, with a special visit to Greenwich Observatory and the Maritime Museum.

Sound interesting but not in the budget?

Northern hemisphere stargazers who look to the west as the sun sets should note that just to the left of the horizon they should be able to see the comet Pan-STARRS over the next few days.

“Comets visible to the naked eye are a rare delicacy in the celestial smorgasbord of objects in the nighttime sky,” says NASA on its Asteroid and Comet watch page that offers viewing tips and more information about asteroids and other near-Earth objects.

Another option? Google Sky.

[Photo credit – Flickr user ϟStormLoverSwin93ϟ]

Video: Solar Eclipse Time Lapse

Cory Poole put together an impressive time-lapse video of the May 20 solar eclipse. Poole captured 700 images of the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Redding, California. Through a Coronado Solar Max 60 Double Stack telescope, Poole caught the beautiful images. Accompanying the video is music that appears to be his own, noted as having been made using Ableton Live. If you missed the solar eclipse on May 20, this video will certainly give you a better view than you could have seen with your own eyes.

Utah town hopes to benefit from celestial sightseeing

Thought to be one of the best places on earth to view the annual solar eclipse on May 20, the small town of Kanarraville, Utah is hoping to draw a considerable number of “astrotourists” this spring. Defined as those willing to travel to study astronomy or observe the sky, astrotourists are common in the region, where dark nighttime skies make stellar stargazing spots.

“I heard of the concept two years ago,” Bonnie Oldroyd, a representative from the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau told The Daily Spectrum. “I thought, ‘What the heck is astro-tourism?’ I did some research and found out we have astro-tourism.”

It’s estimated that around 5,000 of these astrotourists will descent upon the town in order to see the moon pass between the sun and the earth, leaving just a ring of light from the sun. Considering Kanarraville has a population of merely 300 people, the uptick in tourism is a pretty big deal. Public safety workers will deal with traffic and parking around popular viewing areas, and the tourism bureau is working with nearby hotels to provide special “eclipse packages” for the date. The rest of Southern Utah–besides the areas affected by lights from Las Vegas–might see increased tourism as well.

Would you–or have you–ever planned a trip around stargazing? Hopefully the clouds don’t roll in and ruin it all.

[Photo by makelessnoise / Flickr]

Video: the darkest type of eclipse shot from Tajikistan

Gadling, travel blog and time-lapse video enthusiast site, is proud to present this stunning video shot in Tajikistan of the total lunar eclipse last month. The eclipse was best viewed from central Asia and Africa, and vimeo user Jean-Luc Dauvergne captured it expertly in full time-lapse glory. The clarity of the stars and the silence of the Tajik steppes combine to accentuate the interstellar view. This rare central lunar eclipse only happens when the moon passes through the center part of the earth’s shadow, providing the darkest type of eclipse.

The next eclipse will take place on December 10,2011, and the next central lunar eclipse will happen on July 27, 2018. Mark your calenders.

Total Lunar Eclipse In Tajikistan from Jean-Luc Dauvergne on Vimeo.

Live out your Twilight fantasies at Olympic National Park

The next installment of the Twilight saga is now just a few days away, and fans are already preparing to catch the latest exploits of those kooky vampires and werewolves on the big screen. To celebrate, the release of Eclipse, the Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park is offering special deals for visitors who want to follow in Edward and Bella’s footsteps, while having a few adventures of their own.

The Twilight Eclipse Package includes one night stay at the lodge with guests staying in a double occupancy log cabin. Visitors will also receive two Twilight water bottles, a Twilight trivia game, and a specially themed Twilight dessert. The package also includes a special map of the Forks area as well, with some of the most important locations from the books highlighted, allowing fans to quickly find and visit the places they’ve only read about in the novels. Some of those places include La Push, home of the Quileute Tribe as well as Bella’s best friend Jacob, the Forks High School and Community Hospital, not to mention the lush forests and Pacific beaches that play a role in the story as well.

This package deal starts at $202 is good through October 30th. When booking online, use promo code: KLTWEC10 and start planning your vampire, or werewolf, hunting expedition soon.

[Photo credit: Summit Entertainment]