In a time when everything can be had in a click, it’s cool to know that one can still step back, slow down, and look at the stars.
That’s exactly what I did over the weekend of Nov 14-15 through The Mind Museum’s Astro Camp event held at Porac, Pampanga. I was joined by my sister and cousin, and roughly 30 other happy campers of various ages – but surely all young at heart!
For PhP4,000 per person, The Mind Museum organized an overnight program which included getting to know the rest of the campers, an introduction to the motion of the sky, learning the basics of astrophotography and night photography, hunting for stars and constellations, story-telling, catching the leonids meteor shower, and some simplified astronaut training activities.
Oh, and one must not forget the tent-pitching (which was my very first!) and the bonfire… and what’s a bonfire without toasted marshmallows and s’mores?!?
I’m not an astronomy-geek (and there sure were a couple of those in our group), but it was a great experience to listen to their stories of all the celestial beings that I have only heard of the first time. It was also great to listen to the history of how different civilizations used the stars to do almost everything. It was like having a really chill history/astronomy class while lying flat on your back, eating s’mores, and pointing out the stars with the coolest laser lights. We called them light sabres because they really looked like the famous Star Wars weapon piercing the very dark starry sky all the way up to God-knows-where. I actually wanted to take one home with me, but of course, they were The Mind Museum’s property (hehe).
The Mind Museum timed the event to coincide with the Leonid meteor showers. Although we did not come during the peak day for the showers, I managed to see 15 falling stars that night! It was really amazing. It was also quite fun each time the group bursts out “Shooting Star!” when we get a visual.
I would recommend this activity to anyone looking for something different. This can appeal to almost anybody. In our group, there were obviously families, but there were also sweethearts, solo campers, and groups of friends. I have not been stargazing since the 80’s – back when my father took us to the beach to try to catch a glimpse of Halley’s Comet. It’s a shame that I have not done this more often. Watching a sky full of stars really allows one to reflect and appreciate the enormity of the world we live in. Suddenly, our big problems and worries are not really that big anymore…