New star gazing experience from Queenstown Skyline
20 Aug 2012
Queenstown’s reputation as a holiday resort for the stars is rising to new heights with the launch of a mountain-top star gazing experience.
From a vantage point high on Bob’s Peak above the Queenstown Skyline, star gazers can now take an evening tour of the secrets of the southern hemisphere night sky with the aid of an expert guide and two telescopes.
The magnificent location, long winter nights and clear night skies will provide access to "a hidden world" not seen by the naked eye, and impossible to see from many other locations around the world.
Rare and unique
"The view from Skyline is out of this world and this is an opportunity to explore the night sky from a rare and unique position," Skyline general manager Lyndon Thomas said.
Skyline Star Gazing will take visitors to a purpose-built area high above the main complex, where there is no trespassing light, allowing for a remarkably clear view of the night sky.
From there, top-of-the line telescopes will give stargazers the chance to view an amazing array of stunning sights, from the iconic Southern Cross, to nebula, planets, the Milky Way and other galaxies.
The star gazing tours will be headed up by experienced astronomer Matt Hall, who says winter is an exciting time of year to explore the night sky.
"The centre of our galaxy sits right above us in the winter months," Hall said. "There’s simply so much on show for us and we’re able to actually look into the past, something which blows most peoples’ minds!"
Mr Hall has joined Skyline Star Gazing from the Mt John Observatory at Lake Tekapo where he has been working for the past four years as an astronomy guide.
"This is a really exciting tour, tailored to suit the needs of each individual group, from first-time star gazers to the more experienced," Hall said.
The night skies will be revealed by two portable high-powered Celestron telescopes imported from the US, which can automatically track points of interest giving everyone time to see the sights.
Guests will be provided with Canada goose down jackets to keep them warm while outside.
Skyline general manager Lyndon Thomas said mankind had always been fascinated with the stars.
"With most not easily viewable from major cities or requiring a journey to an out-of-the way observatory, Skyline Star Gazing should have universal appeal," Thomas said.
"Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world with an excellent selection of restaurant and bars, but there aren’t too many tailored options when it comes to enjoying our natural surroundings at night.
"We’re thrilled to be able to offer people the chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful night skies in the world, providing an alternative night time activity to Queenstown’s bustling bar and nightlife scene.
"Nightlife in Queenstown may be found in the skies above us, not just in bars and restaurants."
Background: Skyline Queenstown
Skyline Star Gazing joins a range of experiences on offer at Skyline Queenstown that already includes mountain biking, Skyline Luge, Skyline restaurant and Kiwi Haka, and the popular gondola ride to the top.
The 75-minute Skyline Star Gazing tour will run from 23rd August to mid-November, Wednesday to Sunday nights. Tours will operate from 6.30pm and 8pm, with the possibility of a later tour when demand is high.
Each tour, which includes a gondola ride, takes five to 15 guests. There is an additional dinner option.
Star gazing in New Zealand
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