Sun, moon, stars: the star village in the Val d’Ega

Date
04.05.2018
Tags
Nature

Sun, moon, stars: the star village in the Val d’Ega

Adventures for stargazers large and small!

A family trip to the star village in the Val d’Ega

Do you ever look up at the night sky, watch the stars twinkling and the moon shining bright, search for constellations and ask yourself what it may actually look like, up there, in space?
Yes? So do we. My husband, our two boys and I, that is. Every evening, before going to bed, we take one last look at the starry sky. So many light years away, the sky always seemed so out of reach for us - until we heard of the first European star village in the Val d’Ega. And that’s exactly where our two-day getaway in spring this year will take us:

Infinity and back, please!

Our cosmic short stay starts in – how could it be otherwise – a star hotel! It truly lives up to its name: in our room we find not only a telescope and images of the constellations, but even a space shuttle. And the astronomy-themed book corner in the hotel provides answers to all our questions. The first few minutes of our short holiday let us know that the sky is NOT beyond our grasp!

Through the galaxy aboard a spacecraft

As soon as we’ve checked in to our star room and unpacked our suitcases, we whiz like comets to the planetarium in San Valentino in Campo and its cosmos simulator. And lo – luck is on our side, as there are exactly four places available for us. While my husband and I feel like Captain Kirk under the 8-metre cupola, our boys turn into nimble space warriors. We travel from star fields to black holes and magically shimmering cosmic nebulas, feeling sublime and somehow freed from the laws of gravity. From the big cosmos (simulator) we proceed to the no less cosmic Dolomite village, where we end our first evening in suitable fashion: a full-moon event, obviously. These events are regularly held at the restaurants in the star village and feature truly celestial fare, such as “lunar eclipse dumplings”. Our little ones just can’t stop marvelling at all the wonders on offer here! Nor, as it happens, can we.
After such a galactic day we all sleep as if on a bed of clouds. But not without taking a very good look at the starry sky before we doze off! You don’t get to have a telescope in your room every day, after all.

The planets at every turn

The Max Valier observatory with its white cupola greets us the next day from afar.
It is also the starting point of our circular hike: off we go for a walk along the planetary trail! One last cappuccino for the grown-ups at the Unteregger inn, then we march off in the direction of Mercury, Venus and Earth. The signposts show us our way through the solar system, here on the mountain ridge of the Val d’Ega. We cross the Oberegger farm on our way to Mars and head on eastwards. If you ever forget how small humankind is, this trail will definitely remind you. Time, space, infinity – when we reach the planet Saturn, a Dolomite realm opens up in front of us that calls everything into question. The massive white rock formations in front of us and the even mightier planets above us. Can this get any more heavenly?
We wander on through a biotope, through deep conifer forests and across wide meadows until we reach Pluto. After a relaxed three-hour walk, packed with information, we’re back at the observatory again, where we meet David Gruber, a genuine astrophysicist, whose eyes sparkle when he tells us about what’s new up in the sky, about the many themed days and information weeks held directly at the observatory. He also tells us about the star hiking tours offered weekly in July and August, giving participants insights into the star village with the planetarium and the astronomical and solar observatories. In the afternoon, we choose a guided tour through the solar observatory as the last highlight of our short holiday here: the sun is shining brightly in the sky today – almost as if waiting for us to take a really close look…

Planetarium South Tyrol | © Gemeinde Karneid
Planetarium South Tyrol | © Gemeinde Karneid
Star observatory by night at Obergummer

On the (milky) way home

Our short stay is coming to an end. Highly impressed with the star village, the star hotel, the natural world of the Dolomites – and by the planets, the stars, the universe! – we load our luggage into the back of our spacecraft… er, car, that is! We definitely feel a lot closer to the sky now. And our everyday stargazing evening routine will never be the same again: more interesting and exciting, to be more precise. After all, now we know what it really looks like up there!

Tip: planetary trail audioguide

You can also wander along the planetary trail with an audioguide that provides even more galactic information!
Here you can find the web versions of the guide. If you prefer downloading the free app, here’s the link for Android and for iOS. Have fun!
 

Star observatory at Obergummer
Hike to the star observatory at Obergummer
Star observatory by night at Obergummer