A new voyage pairing the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena - one time home to the observatory of Edmond "comet" Halley - and a visit to South Africa's national observatory for the first time will transport stargazers to astronomy heaven.
Located 16 degrees south of the equator, virtually every constellation in the sky is visible at one time or another during the year on St Helena. Combine this with a visit to the South African Astronomical Observatories (SAAO) telescopes outside Sutherland in the Western Cape for a truly spellbinding experience.
The new 19-day tour departs from Cape Town in May 2015 on board the RMS St Helena, one of the last working royal mail ships in the world, in the company of professional stargazer, dark skies consultant, and author of the book "Stargazing for Dummies", Steve Owens. For the ultimate optical package, guests can add on the five-day pre tour to the Western Cape, visiting Sutherland to see the Southern Africa Large Telescope along with ample opportunities to appreciate the Southern hemisphere's stellar nightscape.
Next stop, St Helena, an island steeped in astronomical history and one of the few places where both The Plough and the Southern Cross can be seen in the sky at the same time. Visitors can also marvel at the the Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic centre of the Milky Way. Time on St Helena will include guided tours of Jamestown's historical sites and buildings, visits to local landmarks such as the Heart Shaped Waterfall and Diana's Peak, a Napoleonic tour, coastal sightseeing including seeking out dolphins and nocturnal sky watching.
The tour, departing Cape Town on 4 May 2015, costs from £2,695 per person including accommodation in a shared two berth cabin on A deck with private facilities and full board while on board the RMS St Helena, in a twin/double room on St Helena on a bed and breakfast basis, all tours on St Helena with evening meals where mentioned. The Western Cape pre-tour departs on 30 April 2015 and costs from £915 per person, based on sharing a twin room, all accommodation and meals as mentioned in the itinerary, entry fees and guiding fees. International flights are extra. For more information and to book visit http://rms-st-helena.com/tours/stargazing