Editor on my site Sarah O was celebrating her birthday and she wanted to do something a little different. So Sarah, a group of friends, my 7 year old son and I, set out on a star gazing adventure, beginning just before 20:30 on a July evening. We arranged to meet Kostas (the owner) and George (an astronomer) from Wild Nature Expeditions on the junction of Sami-Argostoli & Mt. Ainos roads in order to get to the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunset before spending a few hours star gazing at the very top of Mount Ainos! (If you don’t want to drive yourself, or don’t have transport you can be collected from your accommodation in their 7 seater Nissan Terrano 2.)
Kostas had warned us it would be cold at the top so we prepared the best that we could with our summer clothes and set off. It was a very clear but windy evening (the park was closed to visitors the day after because of the strong winds) and temperatures went down to 14 degrees… after a daytime temperature of around 30 degrees it was quite a shock! Nevertheless the stunning sunset and outstanding views took our minds off the weather. The change in the colours of the sunset was breathtaking, as the sunset and the lights flickered on in the towns below us the blues, oranges, deep reds of the sky intensified. Venus appeared and George explained to us about the planet, it’s relationship to the ancient Greek myths, it’s position in the sky and then showed it to us through the telescope. As the night began to get darker we had the excitement of seeing Saturn and it’s rings, Jupiter and 4 of it’s moons and the Scorpius constellation with it’s distinctive red star Antares or the “rival of Mars”.
Video credit: Giorgos Gerontopoulos
When the sun had set completely we moved to an area with no light pollution at all and the sky became abundant with stars, so many it was an awesome spectacle. We saw the Galactic Plane, Mars and the North Star Polaris as well as many constellations – as George told us fascinating facts about them and mythical legends of the Greek Gods. The whole evening had a magical and relaxing vibe, and we became like children again in awe at the sky!
After a few hours we reluctantly left the mountain with some fabulous memories, lots of new knowledge, a thirst to learn more about the night sky, and cold hands!
Photo credits; David Fenton, Kostas Vitor & Sarah O