We saw Saturns Rings in Catalunya, Spain at the Astronomy Park Montsec.
I’ve never looked through a telescope before. It’s something we’ve never had the opportunity to do in all our travels around the world. But then Spain came along and not only were we looking through a high octane lense to view the stars, we were checking out the rings of Venus and the planet of Mars.
Our night started off with a feast for the ages.
We had just spent the day watching vultures feed from the safety of a hide and we toured a vineyard in the Spanish countryside. I felt as if we had just finished eating when we hopped in our van to visit the Astronomy Park Montsec.
We sat to a table filled with tapas and wine and began the usual munching that we’d been doing the entire trip through Catalunya. As the food kept coming, we had huge guilt as we couldn’t eat the beautifully prepared meal that the chef had cooked for us but our bellies were stuffed from the constant food that was coming our way for nearly a week.
Feeling groggy and tired from the days events and wine we were lead into a dark room to watch program on the universe.
I am always in awe of planetariums. You feel as if you are sitting under the real sky as you are taken through a journey through space. It is inspiring. We were treated to watching the movie “Stars” a movies exploring man's relationship with the night sky throughout history. Mark Hamill was the narrator of this trip and I wasn’t surprised. I had heard that Luke Skywalker had become quite the accomplished voice actor and it is fitting that he would be telling us mere mortals about the secrets of universe.
What is unique about the Par Astronomic Montsec is that it is the only planetarium where the dome opens up to give you a view of the night sky immediately after the presentation. It is incredible to see the stars on screen only to have the roof open up to reveal the stars in the night. A guide points out the constellations you'll be viewing and the planets that are visible in the sky.
After our presentation, we went outside to have a closer look through the powerful telescoped.
I cannot tell a lie. Looking at Mars was uneventful as it appeared to simply be a bright light in the sky. I thought, “is this all there is to looking through a telescope?”
It wasn't until we went outside to have a look at Saturn that my interest was peeked. The astronomy expert used his ultra strong lazer pointer to point out stars, clusters and constellations before lining up the telescope to have a look at Saturn.
As we took turns one by one, everyone's reaction was the same. They looked through the lens and let out a surprised cry of delight. It was funny to watch each person be surprised again and again and I couldn't wait to see what made them smile.
It was my turn and I thought to myself “I won't be delighted, how cool could it possibly be”
Well, it turns out that seeing Saturn up close is very cool
Through the lens Saturn glowed brightly, piercing through the black night sky. I could clearly see the rings floating around the planet and was mesmerized by the sight. I had seen pictures and drawings before, but this was the real deal. It felt as if I could reach out and touch them. I couldn't believe how clear the rings were right before my eyes!
With the final treat over and done and the night turning to the wee hours of the morning, it was time to catch the bus back to our hotel.
We had another early day tomorrow in Catalonia and you could be sure that it would be starting off with a huge breakfast to fill our bloating bellies. But for now, we sleep with visions of twinkling stars and dancing planets filling our dreams and lulling us to sleep.
For your own visit to witness the stars check out PAM, the Parc Astronomic Montsec in the Pyrenees and the province of Catalunya, Spain.