Something To Declare: The universe; water safety; free rail travel for children
Saturday 25 July 2009
Destination of the week: the universe
After the total eclipse that swept across Asia this week, the next big astronomical tourist attraction is the next such event, a year from now, in the South Pacific; Easter Island and Tahiti will be good locations on 11 July. But before that solar eclipse there are two other interesting events to be observed from fascinating parts of the world.
Astro Expeditions (020-3195 7379; astro-expeditions. com) is taking a party to Libya to view the Geminid Meteor Shower on 12 December this year. A "spectacular natural firework show", is promised by the project manager, Brian McGee. While meteors can be seen on any clear night away from city lights, meteor showers comprise debris from a comet or asteroid that has passed through the solar system. McGee says "The Geminids' low speed and abundance of bright events makes them a prime photographic target," with no moon in the sky.
The phenomenon will be observed from a desert camp, Sebha. There is also a side trip to Libya's Roman city of Leptis Magna (pictured). The price of £995 includes flights, hotels and camp accommodation, and all meals. Visas are extra.
Dr Nick Hewitt will accompany Astro Expeditions' next trip, departing for East Africa on 11 January next year for an annular solar eclipse above Kenya. An annular eclipse is one where the moon and sun are exactly in line, but from the spectactor's point of view the moon does not completely cover the sun. The price of £1,395 includes return flights from Heathrow to Nairobi and a stay at the Mara Sopa Lodge in the Masai Mara, where the phenomenon will be observed.
Warning of the week: water safety
"Drowning is the third-largest cause of accidental death amongst children in the UK," warns the Swimming Teachers' Association (01922 645097; sta.co.uk).
To try to reduce the number of tragedies this summer, it has plenty of good advice – including a guide for new parents, downloadable from tiny.cc/Tuky6.
As soon as you arrive at your holiday location, inspect it for potential hazards. Young children are particularly attracted to water. Don't take your eyes off them for even one second if they are near water. It is not uncommon for a drowning to occur while both parents have been unloading the car.
Never accept the validity of pool depth markings – they are often wrong. And do not dive into unknown water.
Over 50 per cent of those who drown were able to swim; it is easy to over estimate your ability and stamina. And in three out of four drownings, the victim is male.
Finally, be aware of rip currents that can pull you out to sea. If you are caught in a rip keep calm; either swim diagonally across the current or wait until the power has reduced to allow you to swim parallel to the beach and surf with the waves.
Bargain of the week: free rail travel for children
Two train operators in the northern half of Britain are offering a deal where one or two children aged between five and 15 can travel free with each fare-paying adult. First TransPennine Express, which serves Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, as well as many other destinations in northern England, plus Edinburgh and Glasgow, is running its offer to 23 September. To quality you have to download a "Kids Travel Free" voucher from the website (tiny.cc/ BYr5y) and take it to a staffed station, or book tickets by phone on 0845 678 6974, quoting the promotional code KGF1. The deal does not apply before 9am and 4-6pm from Monday to Friday.
ScotRail has the same basic promotion – except no voucher is needed, and you can buy tickets on the train if you board at an unstaffed station ; 08457 55 00 33 or scotrail.co.uk for more details.
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