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 about the star gazing tour at Ayers Rock/ Uluru. Ayers Rock is also known as Uluru so I will be using these words interchangeably in this post.
For a complete travel guide to Uluru, read my post Guide to spiritual heart of Australia.
First Day in Ayers Rock
During my sunset tour to Uluru, I met one female traveler from Canada (Unfortunately, I do not remember her name). Coincidentally, she was staying at the same dorm (Youth Hostel Association (YHA) Uluru) 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!).
If you want to see Milky Way in New South Wales (NSW), then read my post 10 places to see the Milky Way in NSW.
I have always been fascinated by the Milky Way, the Aurora, the Stars, the Aliens and the Planets, I just 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. I desperately wanted to book the tour so I don’t miss out. 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 the Kings Canyon (read my experience at Kings Canyon).
My first attempt to book the star gazing with the sunset tour failed. I was told by the driver of the AAT Kings tour agency that there were no places available for the star gazing tour for that night. My second attempt to book a star gazing tour (with no dinner) with a different operator also failed as I could not reach my hostel well in time to book the tour (It’s a shame that they did not have phone bookings back then and I had to reach the reception of my hostel to book the tour).
Second Day at Ayers Rock
My last night in Ayers Rock was my only chance. I knew if I didn’t do it, I would regret for not doing the star gazing during my trip. In spite of a long tiring day at Kings Canyon, I booked the star gazing tour (on my third attempt, I had reached hostel on time, there was an availability in the tour and I was going on the tour that night. Whoooohooo!!!).
The star gazing tour
The meeting point for the tour was the Ayers Rock Resort shopping centre (about 5 minutes bus ride from my hostel). I was on time. 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. We were asked to take a seat forming a circular platform. There were two telescopes at the front and many chairs facing the telescopes. I chose to stand (behind all the chairs) as I 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.
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After a brief introduction, one of the guides started explaining to 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 all 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), 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 and one of my bucket list items was 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 taken from Wikipedia). The telescope was so clear that I saw the lines on the Planet Jupiter. Astounding it was.
I am so grateful that I met the girl from Canada and I am really thankful to her for letting me know about the star gazing tour. The whole experience of seeing the stars and the planets for the first time will always be very close to my heart. I will cherish this experience for my life.