Monday, 11 November 2013

Our experience at Osservatorio Astronomico, Varese

Hubby booked an appointment with Osservatorio Astronomico (Astronomical Observatory) for a visit on Saturday.

But stupid us got the time wrong and we under-estimated the time required to get to the Observatory. It was already closing when we were there. It took us about half an hour to drive up the winding roads to get to the entrance and walk further in, climbing steep slopes. The Observatory has to be at a place where there's minimal lights, so have to walk deep deep inside. Seriously, all the places with beautiful scenery or nature require me to walk until I wanna die.

Since the Observatory was already closed, we walked out to the entrance and watched the sunset.

Beautiful sunset, the moon, lakes, city lights and a very bright star (we guessed it's Venus) all in one pic. The very bright star looks very faint in this pic. It's the small tiny bright dot in the middle of the sky.

While admiring the sunset, we saw lightning bolts shining from a huge piece of dark cloud from a far! Wah, I have never seen lightning bolts from this angle before. Hubby managed to capture a pic with the lightning bolts.

Along the orange color horizon on the left side, there's a huge piece of dark cloud. The orange light, shining from the dark clouds, which resembles the color of the city lights, is the lightning bolt we saw. And the very bright star is very obvious in this pic.

Anyway, when the sky was getting dark, we started experimenting some silly stuffs. Hubby sets his camera for long exposure while we drew/write various things with flash lights to get these effects.

Me drawing heart shape

I posed in this position for 5 seconds on each side to get this effect.. Lol..

Hubby is good at writing mirror image.. So let him do the writing..

Some stars in the sky. Moon was very bright that night so the stars were less visible.

So, we came back for the Observatory tour on Sunday again. There're many low lying clouds on Sunday and we were walking in the misty misty woods. Wow! Got the fairy tale feel leh, made me thought of the scene where Snow White got lost in the woods and met the Seven Dwarfs.. Lol.. Anyway, it's autumn now la, so no snow but the trees were botak already and the ground was filled with fallen brown leaves.

We met the guide, Luca, when we were climbing the steep slopes up and I was panting like mad. We were again quite late and he was knocking off soon. But he was so nice, he walked back to the Observatory with us and guided us around.

Our nice guide Luca. I will give him 10 out of 10 for his passion towards astronomy and his tour. ^-^

Some background of the Observatory. It's standing at 1200 meters above sea level and it's the only one in Italy that has 3 domes. The number of clear days was about 1/3 of the year at this Observatory, not considered excellent. We were shown some pictures of the moving stars, nebulas etc. taken by the telescopes in the Observatory. Luca told us that they took hours to take pictures of the moving stars and they have to adjust the angle of the telescope accurately.

Then, we were brought into the dome where we saw the 70 cm reflecting telescope.

Luca explained how the telescope works, how the dome can rotate so that the astronomers can choose the exact location that they want to observe. Luca also provided some information on how the astronomers determine the stages of the life of a star, like whether is it dying. The tour lasted for about 45 minutes.

They have the night tour to view stars which we thought was even more interesting as we could really use the telescopes to see the stars in the sky. Luca said that from now till February are the months of Jupiter, he also mentioned some other months will be the months of Saturn (I can't remember which months). Hubby already registered for the night star gazing tour in December. Hopefully, there's nice weather and we will be able to see the stars. Yippee!

When we were out of the Observatory, we noted a signboard pointing to Terrace Paranomica. So we went up the stairs to take a look and this was what we saw.

The views were beautiful but it was super duper windy and freezing cold up there. Dunno what happened but it seemed like there's strong wind suddenly.

And it's confirmed that there's strong winds throughout the area. Even when we're back in Gallarate, the wind was strong and freezing cold with speed of 46 km/h! In such weather, it's best to stay at our warm and cosy little home.

The we were curious. If Gallarate's wind speed was 46 km/h, what would be the wind speed on the Observatory? We checked and it's 68 km/h, with strongest gust of wind at 104 km/h. Woah! I think I will get blown away if I am still there. Scary..

Alright, so that's all for our astronomical weekend!

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