Article from MAINE WINDJAMMER ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER ()
May 27, 2016
Plan Your Vacation Around the Stars!

credit: Scott Marx
Stargazing is a popular activity after dark, and there’s no shortage of falling stars. Make a wish!

 

A (very brief!) History of Stargazing

Once upon a time, mariners depended upon the stars to guide them safely and surely to their destination. They knew the celestial spheres by heart, recounted the stories they had inspired and believed that events on Earth were intertwined with the rhythmic movements of the heavens. Carvings that date back 30,000 – 40,000 years in northern Europe depict historically correct constellations. Suffice to say that humans have been looking up for a long time. As our sea-faring ancestors found direction and meaning by looking up, we look up for the sheer wonder of it.

Stargazing + Windjamming = Amazing!

Now, there’s a way to gaze upon the stars much as our ancestors once did – aboard historic schooners belonging to the Maine Windjammer Association, far from the hustle and bustle of electrically-powered city life. Maine’s fleet of windjammers boasts a number of National Historic Landmarks and every vessel has been built or rebuilt to ensure that passengers have a comfortable, safe experience. While windjammer guests love the outdoors and observing wildlife in its natural setting, stargazers will love identifying the North Star, the Big Dipper, Orion, and all the other lights in the sky. Some lucky guests may also catch a glimpse of the elusive aurora borealis or Northern Lights!

Maine’s windjammers anchor among the 3,000 islands dotting Maine’s coast – most of them uninhabited – offering guests some of the best opportunities for stargazing in the lower 48.

 

credit: Bruno Hazen
The full moon rising over Schooner Heritage.

 

New Moon Stargazing

Experienced stargazers know that the celestial spheres are at their best during a new moon and as far from electric light as possible. That’s when the real “astro-tourists” come out. In August, the Perseids meteor shower rains down an awesome display of shooting stars over a number of days and windjammer guests often lay blankets on the decks with a glass of wine or warm cup of tea as the wooden boat gently rocks and the water laps at the ships’ sides. During this time, 3-day trips start at $695 per person and 4- and 6-day trips are also available.
 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
-excerpted from
Sea Fever by John Masefield

 

Full Moon Romance

For the moonlight romantics, there are full moon night sailing opportunities aboard the American Eagle and Isaac H. Evans. All the windjammers offer moonlight rows where wooden oars gently dip into the calm harbor stirring up the phosphorescence. Full moon sailing is so romantic and unforgettable that one couple aboard the Mary Day decided to exchange their wedding vows on the quarterdeck as the full moon rose behind them!

Astronomy 101

Once upon a time, young sailors began their career on the sea by memorizing the stars. By the time you were captain, you could navigate entirely by calculating your position in relation to the spheres. Astronomy novices may be glad to know that this is still true today – all the captains have a good idea of what they’re seeing when they look up – it’s part of being a sea captain!

For more information about astro-tourism and sailing aboard Maine’s Historic Windjammers, click here.

Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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