"What's Up in the Observatory" in Eilat is a special attraction that is both educational and entertaining. Eitan Schwartz leads the participants, who follow behind his car, to a dark site near Be'er Ora, about a 15 minute drive north of Eilat. The program begins the minute you arrive and turn off your car's lights. You immediately see the incredible star-filled sky. Older participants may remember the skies of their youth, but there are few places today where you can see as many stars as you see while Eitan is setting up. As you are waiting, you can lie on the blankets provided to begin enjoying the quiet and spectacular sky.
Eitan uses two main tools to show the sky. One is an incredible green laser that makes people gasp the first time he turns it on. With the green laser, everyone can see and understand which stars are being talked about. The second is his large telescope which needs a few minutes to set up. With the help of the telescope's computer, Eitan is able to quickly move from one heavenly body to the next.
Before the telescope is ready, Eitan begins pointing out the stars, and we see groups of stars whose names are familiar, like Orion's Belt, and less familiar groups like the Northern Arrow, different colored stars, and clusters of stars and fuzzy patches that we never knew were there –all this with the unaided eye.
As we line up to look through the telescope, Eitan explains how best to see through the eyepiece and continues explaining about the phenomena we are seeing through it. The fuzzy area that we saw without the 'scope turns out to be M 42, a diffuse Nebula; a cloud of glowing gases surrounding stars that are still being formed. He continues after everyone has taken a turn looking. Some of the kids even looked a few times. He has patience for everyone and everyone is listening to his every word or introducing new questions of wonder.
As he moves on to a different part of the sky to show us an open cluster of stars that looks like a field of diamonds, he stops using the telescope for a while and points out the constellations in with the laser, telling the stories that bring them together and bring the abstract figures to life. We continue learning and seeing unimaginable beauty until Eitan finally says, “Let's look at Jupiter, our close neighbor, only 800 million kilometers from us,” thus finishing the hour and a half session with an amazing finale.
Eitan Schwartz can be contacted at: 054 481 9973, Sales@eilatnature.com,
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