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Observing at Southern Skies Star Party

The 15th Annual SSSP will be held July 15-21 , 2012*
Inca Utama Hotel & Alapacha Amateur Observatory
12,300 feet - Lake Titicaca, Bolivia - South America
$1095 per person land-only from La Paz.
Cost estimate with air from Miami: $1849* pp w/air from Miami

2010 Southern Skies Star Party
Inca Utama, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia -
Longitude: 68º 41’ W; Latitude: 16º 13’ S; Elevation: 12,300’

The flat, high Andean plain creates a laminar air flow over the basin.
The lake absorbs solar radiation and acts as a heat sinc to improve seeing.

At 16° South, we have the richly colored Milky Way overhead at Zenith.  This makes for exceptional views of planets if so desired.
It should be noted that the high contrast views of the milky way are typically the subject matter for most photographers, so when planets are present, they are typically a frustration, as their extremely bright magnitudes at this altitude tend to overexpose neighboring areas of Milky Way images. (See above) 

The high altitude means almost half of Earth's atmosphere is below us, decreasing atmospheric scattering and increasing contrast
Smaller telescopes can gather more light and resolve smaller objects due to thinner, more transparent atmosphere.  This thinner atmosphere with less scattering also allows for observing and imaging in what would be less favorable circumstances elsewhere.   Moonlight of the crescent moon does not scatter as much in this atmosphere.  Seeing is also much clearer and contrasted in low altitudes near the horizon.  This allows observers to image longer and lower than elsewhere.

15 second exposure through hotel room window.
15 second exposure through our hotel room window.

Some observers image, others observe with instruments on-site.  Others bring their own or use binoculars.
Binoculars are a very good idea your first trip down to familiarize yourself with a sky 'turning the wrong way', twice as bright , filled with different constellations, with known constellations turned sideways, and filled with more stars.

On-site instruments available for public use are:  22" Starmaster Dobsonian, 10" Starmaster Dobsonian, 10" Meade LX 200.

The 22" Starmaster has been fitted with Argo Navis Goto tracking. However, most observers just push it around. It sits in the Alapacha roll-off roof observatory. It has a Paracor Coma corrector and Naegler 22mm and 9mm 2" eyepieces.  Remember that at this altitude, the brightness of objects is much higher and images are quite a bit clearer.   This scope is best for looking for really dim, over the top 'pillars in the eagle nebula' kind of deep sky objects. Omega Centauri fits in the eyepiece but only barely. Eta Carina is too large to view in one eyepiece with the 20" Starmaster and 20mm eyepiece. Observers typically spend several minutes (not moments) moving the eyepiece around to view the whole nebulae. With high power, the lobes on the central star can be detected.

2010 Southern Skies Images and site pictures:

2008 Southern Skies Images and site pictures:

Astronomical Tours is owned and operated by Serious Astronomers!
We understand that you are traveling for astronomical goals, why your observation experience is important,
and how best to assure the safe travel of your equipment to and from that location..

AstronomicalTours LLC

contact:  eclipse at astronomicaltours.net
149 Northwest OO Highway • Warrensburg, MO  64093 • 866.688.9458