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Astronomy

The Night Sky over Loudet

So, you have discovered there is much to enjoy during the day around Loudet. But what about the night life? We can offer you a night life with a difference: no bars, clubs or restaurants; join us for a stargazing party instead, and watch the wonders of the universe - stars, planets, galaxies - from the comfort of a sunlounger!

From your patio the panoramic view of the mountains includes the Pic du Midi and its observatory which is part of a chain linked to Nasa and is open to visitors. The night sky from Loudet, while never able to match the view from this majestic peak, can still be awe-inspiring to city dwellers.


The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula


A university professor observed recently that millions of children grow up in cities where light pollution is so bright they may never see clearly above them the thousand million stars that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

The Moon, Milky Way and Venus

The Moon with Venus below


They will see the moon, of course, Venus, maybe - but not much else. On a clear night over Loudet a dark sky can be astoundingly beautiful, even to the naked eye. Through binoculars or a telescope all kinds of wonders are revealed.

An English friend with a second home in our neighbouring village of Saint-Plancard is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. He is very happy to arrange informal star parties for any of our guests who would like to explore those wonders of our solar system, or deep sky objects in the universe beyond, depending on seeing conditions. When he is away he likes to lend us one of his telescopes for observing from Loudet. This can be an especially attractive additional facility for guests during the long, dark, winter nights.

Moon

The Moon


The amazingly beautiful images from the Hubble telescope are well known. Even so, the first time anyone sees the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter or the craters of the moon with their own eyes, through even a humble telescope, it can still be a magical, memorable experience. Over the last two years our guests have shown such enjoyment we feel confident that, so long as the skies are clear, anyone interested will be welcome to take a peek by invitation. Even at quite short notice an informal star party can be arranged.

The Milky Way over The Pyrenees

The Milky Way over the Pyrenees


The Milky Way over Le Couloume

The Milky Way on the Winter Solstice


Sadly the heavenly bodies don't always play ball. Planets may rise and set before nightfall; a full moon may be so bright it will wash out the rest of the sky; a predicted meteor shower may prove disappointing. But we keep a daily eye on what is happening and if something interesting is on the celestial agenda we can show you where to look and what to look for.

Saturn

Saturn


The rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter and the craters of the moon are must-sees for first-timers. But then there are the stars. A city dweller might not even be aware of the Milky Way because most of the stars disappear under light pollution. Let your eye become adjusted and you might see 3,000 stars from a lounger in Loudet.
Then let the telescope wander across the Milky Way to see thousands upon thousands of stars you may never have seen before.

If it’s a crescent moon take in the high-lit diamonds on the cusp of the crescent or see how Earthshine illuminates that part of the moon hidden from the sun. Imagine the distance to the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbour, just a smudge of light, (even in a telescope), but home to even more stars than exist in our own Milky Way. Lie back in that same lounger with a refreshing glass to hand and watch for meteors. There are at least ten major meteor showers each year. Meteors invisible under a city sky are plain to see from Loudet. The occasional fireball will take your breath away. Watch the transit of the International Space Station whenever it is due to cross our sky.

Orion's Belt

Orion's belt with Pleiades open star cluster above


For the technical the telescopes available at the moment are an 8" reflector on a Dobsonian mount; a four-inch Newtonian reflector on an equatorial mount (younger guests are encouraged to use this one to explore for themselves) and a 4" Maksutov-Cassegrain on a GoTo mount. Inevitably in a village there is some low-level light pollution from street lamps and other sources; but for any existing amateur astronomers wanting to bring their own grab-and-go telescopes we can direct you to empty hilltop sites just a short drive away with no local light pollution.

Peter

Peter, our Astronomer friend


So, what about the night life? It’s all out there!


© Pyrenees Gite - Le Fournil