19 March 2015

Astronomy Expedition in the Sahara, Southern Morocco

Room balcony @ Sahara Sky hotel/observatory
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ KTY Toutatis
On my latest astronomy trip to the Sahara in Southern Morocco, I met with many enthusiast people in astronomy. I had a blast doing many activities related to astronomy such as Meteorite hunting, astrophotographying the night sky and learning much of astronomy in general at this fabulous hotel/observatory called Sahara Sky. 10 days of meteorite hunting, astronomy learning and stargazing in the Sahara was incredible and just unforgettable. Please join me in a series of posts on my journey through the Sahara in Southern Morocco and one of the most dark skies places I have ever seen.

First of all, I left Finland with a boat to Sweden where I had to catch a direct flight from Stockholm to Marrakesh. Arriving in Marrakesh I booked into an cheap hostel for one night waiting for the next day to travel to Southern Morocco in the Valley of Draa to spend 10 days at this stunning hotel/observatory to observe the Universe.

The trip from Marrakesh started badly with all the roads closed, because of heavy rains. The road between Marrakesh and Ourzazate through the Atlas mountains was closed for buses and coaches. There I was stuck and fearing the worst. I could have taken an other route that took off 2 days of my trip or take a taxi and head through the Atlas pass and take my chances.

My taxi from Marrakesh to Sahara Sky in the Sahara desert.
550 km Credit: S. Lamoureux
The adventure called and I took the Taxi for the Sahara. 550 km of taxi could have been very
expensive, but it turned out to be the best deal ever (63 euros only). Air conditioned old Mercedes Benz with a cool driver that let me smoke my cigarettes freely during the trip. From time to time during the fair, he asked me if he could pick up some people on the side of the road and take a small fee for taking them to their destination. Everything is about money there, so I accepted and he was a happy man for it.

8 hours later I was at the hotel and the driver ask me if I could give him a tip for the extra 500 meters he had drove to take me to the hotel drive way. I said to him: ”No, the deal was 63 euros and you got your people fairs on the side, so off you go”. You have to be firm sometimes with people like that, they will eat you up in a heart beat! As the taxi left, the owner of the hotel was stunned to see me coming with a taxi and asked me how much it cost? I replied 680 dirhams (63 euros)! He could not believe it, he thought it was fair borderline expensive! I laughed and told him that I could not go 20 km with that fair in Finland, and here I was 550 km from where I started.

Me on a camel near the Tinfu dune.
Credit: S. Lamoureux
It was so great to be at the hotel, the adventure could start. I couldn't wait for the night to come and start stargazing.

Please continue reading the next post of my Astronomy trip in the Sahara, Southern Morocco HERE
Follow the complete travel post series and enjoy the astronomy behind it.
This is all part of the public outreach of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.

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