Stargazers Gathered in
Parnonas for Annual Event

The mountain range's crystal-clear night skies were chosen for this year's annual National Stargazing event.


Hundreds of amateur astronomers and observers wanting to gaze upon the stars met at the foot of Parnonas mountains on Friday, July 29th. Once night fell, around 350 telescopes were set up around the mountain’s slopes for participants to watch stars, planets and observable galaxies.

The Parnonas mountain range was chosen to host more than 600 amateur astronomers this year. The choice of location is not accidental. “Parnonas is one of the best places worldwide for star gazing. It’s considered the Mount Athos of Greek amateur astronomy because it combines dark skies and easy access up to the 1,420 meters where the camp is based.” explained the  president of the Astronomical Union of Sparta, Panagiotis Katsichtis.

The participants in the 10th National Stargazing event, held from 29 to 31 July had the opportunity to take part in workshops, learn how to use astronomical instruments and photograph celestial bodies.

“Children will gain knowledge about the sky and the environment by taking part in interactive games, such as the construction of parachute and water rockets” said the president of the Astronomical Society of Corfu, Spiros Chondrogiannis in the build up to the event.

“Parnonas is one of the best places worldwide for star gazing. It’s considered the Mount Athos of Greek amateur astronomy because it combines dark skies and easy access up to the 1,420 meters where the camp is based.”

The “marathon” of gazing into the universe, through visual observation with telescopes and astrophotography, began at 22.30 pm each night and continued until dawn.

Experienced amateur astronomers were on hand to teach participants how to handle astronomical instruments and accessories, how to read astronomical maps and how to identify objects in the night sky, from bright nebulae and star clusters to faint galaxies millions of light years away.

As part of this year’s event, speeches by distinguished scientists such as the honorary chairman of the Eugenides Planetarium, Dionysis Simopoulo and Corfiot astrophysicist, Fiore-Anastasia Metallinou were also on offer.

“Thanks to the technique of photography with CCD or DSLR cameras and image editing, we can gather information on a nebula and calculate the distance between two stars.” added Chondrogiannis. “In the past, we have selected locations such as Grevena, Helicon, Grammos and Dirfi as the high altitude and very dark sky allow the best observations and photography.” he noted.

The conclusions arising from event are sent to international organizations and universities, resulting in a marriage of information about the subject of astronomy. Participants camped under the trees in the observation area, spend the night in the shelter of the mountaineering club EOS Sparta or at hostels in nearby villages. Around 44 volunteers were on hand to ensure the event’s success.

Originally published in ekathimerini.com

“Experienced amateur astronomers were on hand to teach participants how to handle astronomical instruments and accessories, how to read astronomical maps and how to identify objects in the night sky”


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