A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining together with some of the Andalucia Travel Bloggers (ATB) in Martos my nearest town in the most northerly province of Andalucia – Jaen.
Jaen, you may have heard is Spain’s largest producer of olive oil which means much of its mountainous land is sprinkled with olive groves. There more olive trees than people in Spain, with large areas of unihabited land giving rise to it being a designated area and given the title – Starlight Reserve.
Thi cultivation of olives led to a railway being built to transport oil further south and which is now a Via Verde or Greenway for walkers and cyclists but also a great spot for star gazing activities. This is where the local company Astro Andalus choose for our fabulous and informative session with the night sky.
AstroAndalus is the first online travel agency that specialises in astronomic and scientific tourism and its based in Martos part of the Starlight Reserve Sierra Morena and Sierra Sur de Jaen.
Even though on our visit it was cloudy in patches we looked through the enormous telescope at stars and planets. What to the naked eye looked like a sprinkling of stars became hundreds or thousands through the telescopic lens. An amazing sight, awesome and down-to-earth bumping.
Jose from AstroAndalus is a walking encyclopedia who could pull out incredible facts and put them into simple examples that we could imagine but still mind-blowing. How small and insignificant we are and feel when faced with the beauty of our universe.
We even learnt how to take photos in the dark, a great, fun activity.
AstroAndalus offer packages for groups and couples – from one night exeriences to longer holidays. See their fabulous choice of trips here on AstroAndalus.
What it a Starlight Reserve?
A designated Starlight Reserve is one which has the quality of dark skies necessary for the optimum conditions to practice astrology.
To be a Starlight Reserve means that the towns and villages in the area must take measures to conserve and protect the night sky from light pollution by limiting the street lighting output, using downward facing lights and generally minimising as much as possible the use of public lighting.
All photos except the last one are copyright of AstroAndalus.