Skinakas Observatory and the Moon

December 14, 2008


Photographer: Eugenia Papala
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

The above photo shows the waxing crescent Moon in an azure blue sky hovering over the Skinakas Observatory on the island of Crete, Greece. The observatory sits 5,741 ft (1,750 m) up on Skinakas Peak, the secondary peek of Mount Ida (aka Psiloritis) which, at over 8,000 ft (2,400 m), is the highest point on Crete. Some parts of Crete can have an amazing 300 clear nights in a year, though the mountains catch noticeably more precipitation. It is also surprisingly cold at these high altitudes despite being only 35° of latitude north of the equator. This southern location is another reason why star-gazing is better on Crete than many other locations in Europe. Although the city of Heraklion is located about 23 miles (35 km) as the crow flies from the observatory, there are few other large cities nearby to brighten up the night sky. The Skinakas Observatory is a collaboration of the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Germany, the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) and the University of Crete and, as such, is widely used for student education in Astronomy.

Camera details: Olympus Stylus u770SW, Lens focal length 16.9, ISO 80, f/4.5.