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Guided tour of the night sky

Astronomers hoping for clear skies as France prepares for the Nuits des Etoiles

ASTRONOMERS and starstruck sky watchers across much of France will be praying that weather forecasters are wrong as they look forward to this year’s Nuits des Etoiles.

National forecaster Météo-France has said that cloud could spoil the heavenly view of many people over the next few days, with only the southeast enjoying clear skies between August 1 and 3 - the official Nuits des Etoiles.

Events have been organised by astronomy groups up and down the country. To find out if your nearest astronomy club is hosting an event, log on to www.afanet.fr/Annuaire/Clubs/Default.aspx

In Paris, the terrace of the Montparnasse Tower and the Museum of Science and Industry will be open to the public. the Museum of Air and Space at Le Bourget will also be open on August 1 and 2 until 1am.

If you prefer to go stargazing away from the crowds, experts recommend heading to an open location at least 20km from the nearest town, if possible. This will minimise light pollution and - clouds permitting - offer the best view of the stars.

They also say the only equipment needed is something to sit on to avoid getting a stiff neck. Otherwise, a sharp eye should be enough, experts say.

This year’s event, which takes place in countries across Europe and parts of Africa, focuses on comets and their origins.

Photo: Scott Cresswell

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