Alternative Night out: Observatory

Alternative Night out: Observatory

25 November 2017 by Iman
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Blaauw Observatory

Now while most of you don’t fancy hanging out at uni after hours. Once the lecture is done, if you’re anything like me you run like the wind. This however is definitely worth a visit. On certain evenings the astronomy faculty of the University opens up its doors to the public for stargazing events. All of which is free of charge. There are guided tours in available in both Dutch and English; inflatable planetariums with a cool projection show, a mini lecture describing some spacey things and of course the trip to the telescope where you get to see for yourself.

It’s a bizarre thing, being at uni at night especially if you happen to study in the building; it was transformed into an entirely different environment and there were families with curious kids wandering excitedly about the place. There were a few interactive exhibitions in the Bernoulliborg which were explained by students from the natural sciences faculty. First we went into the inflatable planetarium which was quite a funny experience. It was quite difficult to get in, felt akin to what I could only describe as a rebirth and it was pitch black in there not sure who your sitting on- My advice don’t come late I tell you from experience. An astronomy student pointed out the different constellations and shared some of the history behind the names and interesting stories acquainted.

After that we had a mini lecture, where a Professor told us a bit about the astronomy course at the university and gave us explanations using an online interactive planetarium- also pretty cool. Now we get to the best part. We went on the roof quite a journey; first took the lift to the top floor then climbed a steep narrow flight of stairs. It was an apprehensive journey, but then we got to see the star of the show, the giant telescope which can be seen from the outside of the building. There the instrument was explained; how it works and what we would able to see. Mind you it wasn’t the clearest of skies we still managed to see plenty, we all took turns looking through the giant telescope, mostly we saw the moon in extremely high focus- you could make out the craters on the moon. Then we went outside on to the terrace and got to look through smaller portable telescopes and what I could only describe as some sort of super binoculars I managed to somewhat see Jupiter’s moons it was unreal and we caught glimpses of other planets too. The PHD students and professors continued to give us some more information and one showed us the personal photos he’d taken on clearer days with the giant telescope mounted on the roof. All in all it was a long and exciting night- they let you spend as long as you want on the roof which was a bonus. They also provide free posters for keepsakes.

I definitely recommend coming at least once. When do you normally get access to an observatory? Oh and did I mention it’s all free. Book online but note that it is dependent on weather of course- There are multiple dates however. Heads up, wrap up warm it’s chilly up there at night.

Thanks for stopping by!