African Safari Stargazing

19Oct
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Night Sky 2

Most guests on safari at Kariega Game Reserve live in towns or cities where the norm at night is bright lights rather than dark skies filled with millions of stars. 

Our Photo of the Week is an exceptional photo taken by Michael Fitzgerald from Switzerland. Michael and his new wife recently spent a few weeks as volunteers in the Kariega Conservation Programme.

The best places to see a scene like the one in Michael's photo is somewhere with as little light pollution as possible. Natural light pollution comes from the moon and artificial light pollution results from city lights. Stars and planets shine the brightest in the night sky when there is little or no light pollution. Kariega Game Reserve is a perfect location for amazing stargazing experiences.

Interesting Facts About African Stargazing

  • South Africa is in the southern hemisphere which means that there are many constellations that are different from the northern hemisphere.
  • As the earth spins so the orientation of constellations change. You might see some constellations in summer that you won't see in winter and visa versa.
  • It is estimated that the Milky Way is made up of over 100 billion stars.
  • Stars and planets look similar from far away, but the easiest way to distinguish them is that a star twinkles where as a planet is a solid light.
  • Constellations that can be seen while on safari at Kariega include the Southern Cross, Orion the Hunter, Scorpius, Leo and Pegasus.

Optimizing Your African Stargazing Experience

  1. Make sure you are in an area with little or no light pollution.
  2. Get comfortable – lay flat on your back on a blanket and stare up at the beauty of dazzling lights.
  3. Binoculars can be used at night time too! These allow you to see many more stars and planets than with your naked eye.
  4. Constellation maps (and your knowledgeable safari guide) help you locate the many different constellations in the sky.
  5. A laser pointer is handy to help point out stars or planets.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself on your African safari make sure to take the time and stare at the night sky and its beauty. 

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