Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Off the coast of Norway, searching for the northern lights; Scenic beauty, but cloudy forecast; Biding time till we cross the Arctic Circle

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well , here we are off the coast of Norway, searching for the northern lights.  The skies are cloudy, but it’s fun being at sea.

Resident Astronomer enjoying the view from stateroom veranda

Traveling along sort of the inside passage with islands and fjords is very scenic and enjoyable.  As we get further north, we get further north and colder, it will be hard to enjoy being out on the stateroom veranda without our heavy coats.

Our first port of call in Norway on this cruise was Stavanger.  I had heard much about Stavanger from my days of working in big oil.  Many of my associates had travelled to Stavanger to check out offshore facility production.  So, since one of our optional visits was the oil museum, I had to go and see what was up.  They offered a big selection of model offshore platforms and mockups of drilling operations and oil prospecting and productions.  One of the exhibits had a seismic air gun, used for producing the underwater sound pulse for exploration of undersea strata.  The display had a button on it sayin “push to operate” so I did and “Bang”, off went the air gun and everyone in the group turned around and wondered what I broke.  Ok, ok, it was one of the museum exhibits, but I liked pushing that button, which I did again too!

Another one of the exhibits I really liked, because I had a chance to actually ride on it once, is this picture of the personnel ring, called the “Billy Pugh”, which was/is used to transfer crew from one offshore vessel to another.  I remember when I was asked/ordered to get on and use this contraption, I thought I might live to tell about it, but all went ok as we transferred from barge to barge.  Thanks for that opportunity, Best Man, Jared!

Ok, it’s back on the Viking Sky for our continuing northward journey.  Check out this panoramic view from the Explorer’s Lounge.

But wait, we can’t just be having a good view of the rough and scenic Norwegian landscape, we are after the northern lights and we want to check if the clouds are going to be gone.  Hmm, a look at Scope Nights screenshot for the coming week does not look to good.  The forecast is for poor viewing with clouds and rain.  Well we are still progressing northward and we have occasionally seen the blue sky and continue to hope for the best.  It might be the rain will turn to snow.

But in the meantime we will continue to rely on the ever present and helpful bar staff to shake up a martini. By the way, while sitting at the bar and studying the constellations on the background mirror, which also shows Resident Astronomer Peggy and I smiling and anticipating the shaken product, I sort of thought or imagined or maybe just pretended that we were doing astronomy at the bar!  Anyway, thanks for all the martinis, Chris!

And if the martinis are not enough, then we can always go to the gelato station for as much of that favorite concoction as we want.   And if the clouds continue, we will want more and more!  Now I have been on other ships and in many dangerous spaces, like engine rooms, reactor rooms, shaft ally’s and magazines, but this gelato space is one of the more dangerous for us weight watchers.  But, hey, we are on a cruise ship, so no worries!

Until next time, from off the coast of Norway and editing this post on my IPad,

ResidentAstronomer George

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