Plan Your Vacation Around the Moon and Stars
Mid-coast, MAINE— For thousands of years, humans have looked up to the night sky for inspiration. They've imagined stories about the heavens, invented astronomical mathematics and even navigated by celestial bodies. But in the last 100 years, an overabundance of electric light pollution has obscured that view.
Luckily, there are still places in the world where light pollution isn't a problem. One of those places is Penobscot Bay, in Maine, home to seals, beachside lobster bakes and the Maine Windjammer Association. The MWA's ten ships offer 3- to 6-day adventures along Maine's rugged coast. And while the windjammer days are packed with gorgeous sailing and delicious, homemade food, something special happens when night falls that makes a windjammer cruise truly memorable: the same splendid sky that enchanted the Greeks, Romans and even the Egyptians appears in unforgettable relief to the delight of every city slicker.
Anyone who loves the outdoors knows that the fun really starts when the sun goes down – that's when storytelling, spontaneous sing-a-longs and s'mores make a welcome appearance. It's also when the amateur astronomer can pick out the Big Dipper, Orion's Belt and the North Star with maybe a planet or two thrown in for good measure.
Passengers hungry for animated stargazing make a point of booking their cruise during the Perseids – a meteor shower that can shed something like 50 to 150 meteors – aka shooting stars – per hour. In fact, there are so many to see that passengers often tuck themselves under a blanket on deck to count them all.
Once in a blue moon, Penobscot Bay's night sky sometimes comes alive with colorful, undulating Northern Lights caused by geomagnetic storms in the outer sections of Earth's atmosphere.
On the flip side, sailing during a full moon couldn't be more romantic. Imagine a quiet row around a sheltered harbor with the moonlight glistening on the bay and bioluminescence twinkling in the ripples. To take advantage of the bright light of the moon, some of the captains offer full-moon sailing cruises.
So whether it's a full moon or a new moon, windjamming affords passengers the opportunity to reconnect and relax deeply under the shelter of the night sky. For more information about night-sailing and star-gazing aboard the ten vessels in the Maine Windjammer Association, visit www.sailmainecoast.com or call 800-807-WIND.
Special Sailing Dates for Stargazers
May 25: Full Moon/Memorial Day Weekend
June 21: Summer Solstice (16+ hours of daylight)
June 23: Full Moon
July 21-27: Astronomy Cruise aboard Isaac H. Evans
July 22: Full Moon
July 18-22: Full-Moon Night Sailing aboard American Eagle
Aug. 11-13: Perseids Showers
Aug. 11-17: Astronomy Cruise aboard Isaac H. Evans
August 20: Full Moon
Aug. 22-26: Night Sailing aboard Isaac H. Evans
Sept. 19: Full Harvest Moon