Saturday 15 August
From 17h00 to 01h30 (CHANGED!)
Observatoire Centre Ardenne, Grapfontaine
Transportation by 4* luxury coach
UPDATE 14 August, 10h00. The trip is still confirmed.
NEAR PERFECT WEATHER CONDITIONS (see below)
Also the moon is less than 20%, so it’s much darker than in 2019.
Departure from Schuman at 17h00, followed by other stops.
EXTRA bus boarding and drop-off points.
Outbound: Schuman, La Chasse, Delta, Hermann-Debroux
Inbound: the same + Merode, Montgomery, Roodebeek (or at busstops along route)
It’s time for some serious stargazing! After several successful and fun visits to the Planetarium in Brussels and the Public Observatory in Grimbergen, we take things to the next level again. Join us on this trip to the Ardennes to enjoy the celestial spectacle of the Perseids Meteor shower. Summer evenings are always nice for watching the skies, but we choose this date because our Planet Earth is passing through the Perseids meteor field, resulting in countless shooting stars in the sky. On top of that we will enjoy a presentation in a special domed planetarium and we will be able to watch through several professional telescopes (e.g. to look at planets, nebulas and other celestial objects). For this trip we maintain a good-weather guarantee. If it is too cloudy we will cancel the trip. But be aware we had to disappoint dozens of people in previous years because it was fully booked, so reserve your spot on time.
- Bus companies are allowed to transport at full capacity again.
- All buses are cleaned thoroughly and frequently, with extra care for often-touched surfaces. During the trip the driver will again clean the bus. There are transparent curtains between each row. The bus has high quality filters and air is refreshed continuously.
- Wearing a mask is obligatory inside the bus, except if 1,5 metres distance is possible.
- Wearing a mask is obligatory at the Observatory. A toilet is available.
- We cannot serve a BBQ unfortunately. Expat Club will serve free drinks. Due to our late afternoon departure we will stop at a highway restaurant so you can buy something to eat.
- Transportation by 4* luxury coach
- Entrance fees Observatoire Centre Ardenne
- Lecture and presentation in planetarium (first 30 only)
- Usage fees of telescopes
- Explanation by experts
- Stargazing in darkness 🙂
- Some little snacks and drinks
- A fun group of international people
- A lifetime memory
Coach pick up points
- Place Schuman, Brussels (bus stop next to KBC bank on roundabout)
- La Chasse (long bus stop on Avenue d’Auderghem, right before main intersection)
- Metro Delta (long bus stop on Avenue de Beaulieu, next to metro entry)
- Metro Hermann-Debroux (long bus stop under highway flyover, next to Loxam)
- Hoeilaart E411 highway entrance #2
On the return we also stop at Merode, Montgomery and Roodebeek (near Woluwe Shopping Center) and at points in between at bus stops if traffic allows.
Who can join?
Expat Club is known for welcoming a wide variety of international people on its trips. This creates a special, open-minded, safe and friendly environment in which everyone should feel comfortable. You do not have to be a member even, and of course Belgians are more the invited too to join us. We always welcome many solo travellers, couples, retirees, small groups of friends and on this trip certainly also families.
What if the weather is bad?
Having good clear weather for stargazing is essential. The past 4 years it was superb 2 times and very good 1 time, but another time we had to cancel the entire trip because there were way too many clouds. In principle we confirm this trip on Wednesday 12 August (the go / no-go date), based on the weather forecasts for Saturday 15 August. If we cancel it, you will be refunded fully within a few days. Early bird and child tickets will remain available until the evening before departure.
How to add a child ticket?
First add the tickets for adults to the cart. Then on the cart page you can select an additional child ticket (€50). If you need 2 or more tickets then you can change the quantity.
For our weekend skiing trips we have a clear policy: we only go skiing when there is snow. And when the weather changes dramatically, we are not going. We have the same for this stargazing trip! We have no interest in taking you to the Ardennes when you cannot see the stars.
At the moment of writing (Saturday 15/8 09h00) we can observe that ALL FORECASTS are positive. Do not just type in “Grapfontaine weather” in Google, because then you will see a rain icon for today (which has no value to know about tonight), but go into the hourly forecasts. Every single one of them is positive for the evening hours, with a very low precipitation forecast of around 5% (you can ignore that chance!). This screen shot was taken at 09h00 on Saturday morning. Sunshine in the evening hours!!!
This mid-summer date is quite remarkable because around this time Earth passes through the Perseids meteor field, resulting in dozens of shooting stars in the sky. We will travel by luxury coach towards the Ardennes. We depart around 17h30 from place Schuman, so you can still eat something at home, and we stop at a highways service station, so you can buy something there as well. Since this is after the closure of public transportation we will not only stop at the pick-up points Schuman, La Chasse, Delta, and Hermann-Debroux but also at Merode, Montgomery, Diamant and possibly also Meiser and Evere). We can also coordinate shared-taxi/Uber rides (not paid by Expat Club, but for most people not more than a few euros if shared, or €10-15 if alone to many places in Brussels).
We arrive from Brussels at the Observatoire Centre Ardenne after an estimated 1h45 driving. The staff will tell a bit about the observatory. There will be a short presentation in the planetarium (max 10 per shift, possibly only for the first 20-30 bookers). Also you can look through various telescopes. Note that due to the corona measures we are not allowed this time to go into the domes themselves, so we will not be able to use the large telescopes. We regret this, but we still have the chance to look through 3 other telescopes that are placed in the gardens. The best part of the evening is that you can look up into a clear magnificent Ardennes sky and observe the shooting stars yourself! This is the darkest area in Belgium and we had 3 amazing evenings here already in 2019, 2017 and 2016. In 2018 we had to cancel the event due to too many clouds. If that happens again in 2020, we will fully refund you.
We’ve been able to spot pretty remarkable things in our previous trips, including planets, nebulas, and star clusters, and of course planets like Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. We don’t know what will be best visible on our night of visit, so we leave it up to the OCA experts to decide where the aim the telescopes.
Far away from the light-polluted Brussels area, the Observatoire Centre Ardenne is a place to learn more about the stars. There will be a presentation in the planetarium (dome-shaped theatre) for a limited group of 3x 10 people (so book early), and you will be able to through three telescopes. Our guides will show you various celestial objects. Please note that we have to wait our turn and that our guides may not speak English flawlessly (they are local astronomers but do their very best to show you what the sky has to offer).
It is possible there are many clouds when we travel to the Ardennes. On Wednesday 12 August Expat Club will take a final decision whether the event will take place or not. Please, do not delay your registration, though. If the weather does not permit this experience, you will, of course, be refunded fully.