As regular readers know, I am a long-time attendee of the fantastic skeptical conference series, The Amaz!ng Meetings, put together by diehard (literally) skeptic James Randi and his organization, the James Randi Educational Foundation.
To supplement the meetings, Randi's group also held a cruise last year to the Bermuda Triangle (which I had to miss because I had previously agreed to attend Dragon*Con). The cruise was such a success that they're doing another one: to the Galapagos Islands! The cruise is from August 8-18, 2008, and leaves from Quito, Equador.
In Randi's semi-infinite wisdom, he asked me to be one of the guest hosts. OK, I can't be sarcastic about this. I'm gonna be a guest host on a cruise to the Galapagos! Woohoo!
An astronomer is necessary on such a cruise, as we'll be away from almost all artificial lights for several days as we steam to and from the islands. The Galapagos are located almost right on the Equator, which means lots of views of both northern and southern objects. I'm not sure if I can sneak a big 'scope on board, but we'll figure something out.
Official registration through the JREF has just opened. The total price is $5400 (for a deluxe stateroom -- other cabins are more -- and this does not include airfare to and from Equador), which is actually quite a bargain for a trip of this magnitude. You'd better hurry: as of this writing, only 43 cabins are left.
This whole thing is being discussed on Randi's bulletin board. If you want a taste of what the cruise is like, try reading this diary from someone who made it on the same boat. Interestingly, he talks about staying in Quito, and has this to say about a tourist spot directly on the Equator:
The monument, which is located exactly on the Equator line, includes various experiments proving that you are at latitude Oâ€™0â€™0.
Hmmmmm. Sounds like they do some dubious tests with water spinning one way in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern. These tests are notoriously false! I can see I'll be having some fun during our landfall...
Anyway, stay tuned to Randi's cruise site to see the latest news.
Hmmm, I almost put this in the category Time Sink, but since it's a cruise I thought better of it.