01 November 2015 News

The business of stargazing: from observatory tours to ‘Discovery at Sea’

Human beings have been captivated by the night sky from the dawn of time. For some of us – this captivation presents a good business opportunity.

Princess Cruises and the Discovery Channel, for example, have joined forces to provide amateur astronomers with a unique stargazing experience far away from manmade lights.

It’s not just an escape from light pollution that their “Discovery at Sea” cruises provide. The cruise provides a chance to look at both hemispheres, with the Southern Hemisphere providing a very different view of the Milky Way than the Northern Hemisphere.

‘Discovery at Sea’ is one of the more ambitious ventures catering to the human longing for the night sky. Observatory tours are very much popular among those who don’t feel like sailing to the middle of nowhere.

And that’s besides the vast ranges of telescopes that specifically cater to amateur astronomers. Today, there are simply too many of them to list – with specifications ranging from “get a slightly better view of the Moon” to “possibly discover your own asteroid.”

It would be a mistake to suggest that amateur astronomy is a phenomenon that exists purely for pleasure. Amateur astronomers regularly make important contributions to science – simply because they often have the enthusiasm to sift through enormous amounts of data.

Consider the case of Tom Wagg, a teenager, discovering an entire exoplanet, for example.

While cruise passengers aren’t in the habit of making discoveries onboard, it should be noted that projects such as “Discovery at Sea” ultimately create greater awareness of astronomy and its possibilities, therefore popularizing science, especially among the younger generation.

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