I have always enjoyed meeting other fellow travelers. Some become good friends and some provide awesome information and/or tips regarding the place. One such information was the star gazing tour at Ayers Rock.
First Day in Ayers Rock:
During my sunset tour to Uluru, I met one female traveler from Canada (Sadly, I don’t remember her name). Coincidentally, she was staying at the same dorm I was staying in. After the sunset, she was headed off to a BBQ dinner, which included half an hour of star gazing. In our chit chats, she mentioned that Ayers Rock is one of the best places to see the stars and the Milky Way (Milky Way? How cool is that!).
I have always been fascinated by the Milky Way, the Aurora, the Stars, the Aliens and the Planets – I love them (no wonder I love ‘Optimus Prime’ from the movie ‘Transformers’). On hearing about the Milky Way, I wanted to do the star gazing tour as well – like desperately! But I had no time, my ‘Ayers Rock’ trip was only for 3 days – which included my two 5 hours flights (Sydney to Ayers Rock and Ayers Rock to Sydney), Sunset tour to Uluru and a day tour to Kings Canyon (link to read my experience at Kings Canyon).
My first attempt to book the star gazing with the sunset tour failed – No last minute bookings :/ . My second attempt to book a different star gazing tour (with no dinner) also failed – Could not reach my hostel well in time to book the tour (Are you serious? Really? There is something called phone bookings you know!).
Second Day at Ayers Rock:
My last night in Ayers Rock, this was my only chance. I knew if I didn’t do it, I would curse myself my entire life (Yes, that’s how I am, okay!). In spite of a long tiring day at Kings Canyon, I booked the star gazing tour (my third attempt – I had reached hostel on time, there was an availability in the tour and I was going – Whoooohooo!!!).
The meeting point for the tour was the Ayers Rock Resort shopping center (about 5 minutes bus ride from my hostel). I was on time – Beat that! I have never been this punctual (trust me), the credit definitely goes to the Milky Way. The entire group in the tour consisted of about 15 people and 2 guides. We walked from the meeting point, to a place that had absolutely no light pollution. A circular platform – Two telescopes at the front and many chairs facing the telescopes. I chose to stand (behind all the chairs) – had to set up my tripod. After settling in with my camera and tripod, I focused on the actual reason I was there. I looked up to see the sky.
There it was – The Milky Way – seen through the naked eyes. I didn’t even know that was possible. Oh My God! It was unimaginably beautiful and unbelievably magical.
After a brief introduction, one of the guide started explaining us about the Southern cross Orion’s belt, how to locate the South direction and how big is our Earth when compared to the Moon and the Sun. The facts were mind blowing – Now that’s what I call as super cool! It was all ‘WOW’ facts.
Whilst the guides were explaining, I tried to capture some of the Milky Way shots. Being a first timer, I could not capture the shots – the way I had expected them to be.
The last half an hour of the tour was the highlight. After explaining and answering the questions about the stars and the planets, the guides set up their telescopes. One after the other they showed us – the Rainbow star (Oh, it had so many beautiful colors), Planet Venus, Butterfly clustered stars (definitely, the stars were in the shape of a butterfly – I can vouch for it), Planet Jupiter (with it’s 4 moons) and Planet Saturn (with rings around it).
The entire star gazing tour was sensational and phenomenal. But I do have my best moments in the tour. To name them – The Milky Way (of course), the two shooting stars 🙂 (Yes, I saw them – my bucket list item ticked off 😀 and no, I didn’t have time to wish) and the Planet Jupiter with two moons on the left and the other two moons on the right (similar to the below picture in Wikipedia). The telescope was so clear that I saw the lines on the Planet Jupiter – Astounding it was.
I am so glad that I met the girl from Canada and I am really thankful to her for letting me know about the star gazing tour.