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Northern Lights & Eclipse Delights: Holidays Along The Cosmic Highway In 2012

As Brian Cox returns to BBC2 (16 January) with another 3-night series of Stargazing LIVE and predicted prime conditions make viewing the northern lights one of this year’s must-do holiday experiences, it seems astronomy is no longer the preserve of those in possession of either a PhD or a telescope.


To encourage holidaymakers to see something spectacular on their travels, Explorers Astronomy Tours has released its 2012/15 brochure which acts as an exciting preview of what other phenomena the skies have on the horizon over the next few years. 


The brochure includes holidays taking in two total eclipses, an annular eclipse, the Transit of Venus and the northern lights plus a chance to come face-to-face with the greatest astronomical telescopes on earth in Chile and South Africa. All tours are accompanied by Explorers’ resident Galactic Rangers to provide their expert insight into the celestial activity.


In addition to increasing the number of departures for its sell-out tour to see the much sought-after aurora borealis, Explorers has introduced a 5-day family-only Northern Lights holiday this February.


David Phillips, Operations & Planning Manager at Explorers, said: “With northern light forecasts continuing to suggest that the next couple of years will provide prime viewing conditions and two of our tours already sold out, it’s wonderful to see how this natural phenomenon has captured the nations’ imagination.


“However, the phrase ‘the sky’s the limit’ perfectly sums up the potential for incorporating astronomy into year-round adventure holidays all across the world. Whilst this November’s Total Solar Eclipse in Australia is sure to prove another ‘must-see’ experience, we’ve also introduced new 2012 stargazing trips closer to home that take advantage of the wonderful desert skies of destinations such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco.”



-         NEW Glaciers, Geysers & Northern Lights – Astronomy Kids (5 days from £1,099 adult / £1,039 child) For the first time, families can now explore the rugged beauty of Iceland and watch the Icelandic skies come alive at night with an astronomy expert on-hand to guide them through the light display. For children aged eight and above, the tour will take families away from pollution zones to get a good view of the phenomenon. Departure 14 February 2012 & 12 February 2013

-         Icelandic Northern Lights (8 days from £1,429pp) Travellers are encouraged to book fast to take advantage of the sun’s high level of activity and limited lunar interference and get the best viewing opportunities of the northern lights.  Guests will also be able to explore the beauty of northern Iceland, including ice-encrusted waterfalls and snow-covered volcanoes. Departure 17 & 21 March 2012 / 5 & 9 February plus 5 & 9 March 2013

-         NEW Alaskan Northern Lights (10 days from £3,569pp) With vast wilderness and beautiful landscapes, Alaska will provide a new perspective for viewing the northern lights. On average, Fairbanks witnesses aurora displays on two nights out of every three whilst in 2013 the chance of seeing the northern lights will increase even further thanks to the combination of heightened solar activity and the vernal equinox.  Departure 7 March 2013.



-         US Annular Eclipse (7 days from £1,899pp) The contrasting beauty of the canyons in Zion and Bryce National Parks will provide an added extra to 2012’s annular eclipse, with the picturesque location making for a truly dramatic backdrop. Options range from a seven-day break to a 14-day tour of the US National Parks including the famous film location of Monument Valley. Departure 18 May 2012 (Eclipse only) and 12 May (US National Parks & Eclipse tour)

-         Australian Eclipse (7 days from £2,419pp) Darkness is set to descend over a small strip of Queensland on the morning of 14 November. As the moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun it will cause the stars to become visible and the earth to be bathed in a dusky light. With the next total solar eclipse not expected until 2015, this is a great way to combine the rare phenomenon with one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Departure Five itineraries from 4 to 19 days depart in November 2012.

-         NEW High Arctic Total Eclipse (5 days from £2,699pp) With just ice and the Arctic Ocean between the Svalbard archipelago and the North Pole, the remote destination of Longyearbyen will provide a surreal location to view the ‘eclipse of the decade’. With an excellent chance of seeing the incredible northern lights during the trip and with guests accompanied by armed guards to protect against polar bears, this snowy wilderness will add as much to the adventure factor of the trip as the eclipse. Departure 17 March 2015.



-         NEW Turkey Adventure & Astronomy (8 days from £1,429pp) Taking advantage of the new moon, families will camp under the stars and watch the sky come alive as educational planetarium shows entertain and educate families with children aged 12 upwards. The clear skies of Cappadocia and its surreal scenery will allow holidaymakers to view the planets and constellations in a whole new light. Departures 21 July 2012 & 7 August 2013.

-         NEW Sinai Desert & Stars (8 days from £1,069pp) Incorporating a desert jeep safari, families will be whisked off on an Egyptian adventure which combines all the action of the desert with the wow factor of the stars, planets and Perseids meteor shower. During the holiday, families will be treated to two nights of stargazing hosted by resident ‘Galactic Ranger’ and acclaimed astronomer Dr John Mason. Minimum age 12. Departures 11 August 2012 & 28 July 2013.

-         NEW Petra & Desert Sky at Night (7 days from £1,429pp) For an experience to capture the essence of the Wadi Rum desert, families will experience life in a Bedouin Camp before sleeping under a blanket of stars. The private use of a 16-inch telescope will give children an even closer look at the constellations and the Milky Way, providing them with an unforgettable hands-on learning experience. Other highlights include exploring the lost world of Petra, floating in the Dead Sea and a 4WD desert adventure. Departures 17 August 2012 & 24 August 2013.



-         NEW Night Sky & Caravan Trail (8 days from £1,099pp) Travelling across the Atlas Mountains to the remote fringes of the Sahara desert, this stargazing tour of Morocco will take guests to the palm oases of the Draa Valley far from light pollution and with an excellent 360 degree panoramic view. The Sahara Sky Observatory is equipped with an impressive range of telescopes to make the astronomic views even more special. Departures 21 April 2012 & 4 May 2013.

-         NEW Jordan Desert Stargazing (7 days from £1,399pp) For private telescope access with an astronomy expert to guide guests through the constellations, the blanket of desert stars will come alive as holidaymakers spend the night at a Bedouin camp. The tour is also filled with land-based wonders including the chance to explore the rose-red city of Petra, the rock formations of Wadi Rum and the Red Sea at Aqaba. Departures 2 September 2012 & 31 August 2013.



-         NEW Chilean Observatories (15 days from £3,999pp) From an altitude of over 2,440m, the skies of San Pedro are a deep blue and the foothills of the Andes offer an unrivalled location for the ALMA Observatory – the largest astronomical project in existence. However, Chile’s mountains also boast a further three world-class observatories which are all covered on this two-week tour. Departure 14 October 2014.

-         NEW Galactic Safari South Africa (12 days from £3,199) With the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere based just off South Africa’s famous garden route, holiday-makers will be able to combine the beauty of the wild with the wonders of the night sky. The telescope’s 91 hexagonal mirrors fit together measuring over nine metres in diameter which will give a unique perspective on Karoo’s clear skies and the live planetarium show. Departure 1 October 2013.


To find out more Explorers on 0845 609 1591 or visit www.astronomytours.co.uk 


- Ends -


16 January 2012


For further information please contact:

Suzanne Seyghal, Explorers PR Manager

Tel:       020 8971 2967   Mobile:  07944 168 697 

Email:   suzanne.seyghal@tuiactivitypr.com


Felicity Hay, Explorers PR Assistant

Tel:       020 8971 0498

Email:   felicity.hay@tuiactivitypr.com


Note to Editors

-         Explorers offers a selection of specialist astronomy expeditions which enable travellers to enjoy memorable trips to witness spectacular natural events. With over 26 years’ experience of organising expeditions accompanied by astronomy experts to observe total solar eclipses, Explorers has an unrivalled pedigree in arranging astronomy tours.