As everyone knows, light pollution has made it difficult to see the heavens as our forefathers saw them, and even here in Egypt where they have the advantage of clear skies, many of the fainter stars are not visible near the cities.
However, you can still get a good view of the night sky by joining a tour organised by a local company, Space Observers, who will pick you up at your hotel in Luxor , drive you into the desert away from the light, and serve you an Oriental Dinner, with soft drinks and tea included, shisha (hubble bubble) and Egyptian sweets.
On the evening that I went, it was a night when dinner was not offered, but I got back in good time to eat at a local hotel. The evening got off to a difficult start, as I had arranged to be picked up from the ferry terminal, at Luxor Temple. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister had decided to get married that night,and in consequence the town centre was closed to traffic. Thank goodness for mobile phones.
The very efficient tour organiser kept in touch with us, the air conditioned minibus was eventually allowed through, and off we went, taking the road to Tod, but turning left into the desert. After a drive of 20 minutes or so we arrived at a clearing where two large astronomical telescopes had been set up.
We were escorted to a viewing place with seats, and tea was offered, while the astronomer lecturer gave a lucid and interesting outline of what we would see that evening, and a brief explanation of the movements of the heavens.
The Meade 12" telescopes were amazing. Anyone who has tried to follow stars through binoculars knows how difficult it is to keep them in view, but by entering the co-ordinates into a handheld device, the telescopes were made to automatically track the planet or star we were interested in. I wish I could afford one, but I believe they would cost around £20000 each, and then the Customs here would probably double that with import duties!
The astronomer was equally fluent in English and German, had a wealth of knowlege at his fingertips, and his lecture was both witty and erudite.
To have a private tour SpaceObervers need a minimum of four guests. This tour is possible on all days except Tuesday and Thursday. Otherwise, you can join tours without dinner every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
Pick up time is usually at about 5.15 pm, depending on the time of sunset, and we were back in Luxor at about 8.15.
The cost of a tour without dinner is 180 Egyptian pounds.
For more information, details of dinner costs and to book a tour, please contact Space Observers direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I shall certainly go again.