Starry sky over the ocean - we fly to Ishigaki

At first we took the high-speed train back to Tokyo.

Travelling by train in Japan is special! The train is absolutely on time down to the second, and stops precisely at the mark on the platform where the passengers wait in a neat line. From Tokyo it took us three hours and 2.500km to reach the extreme south of Japan by plane. If you think the island of Okinawa is the southernmost part of Japan, you are wrong. The prefecture of Okinawa also includes the Ryukyu and Yaeyama Islands, which lie very close to the coast of Taiwan. Being on these subtropical islands, the coast of China is much closer than the Japanese main islands. On Ishigaki the itinerary was snorkeling and scuba diving. The reefs are in very good condition; only in some places you can see that previous typhoons have left their marks. But even there, you can see the young, healthy stone corals growing on the rubble of coral rock. Swarms of colorful reef fish, sea snakes and sea turtles could be observed, filmed and photographed. At Manta Point we watched the giant plankton eating rays at the cleaning station. A great experience for every diver!

We stole a bit of the plankton away from the Mantas. From the boat we took samples with our plankton net and examined them directly on the boat with the travel microscope. Fish larvae, radiolarians, diatoms and copepods were abundant. The boat crew of Prime Scuba Ishigaki also looked through the microscope with great interest. It is not every day that marine biological research is done during dive trips. A pull with the plankton net at night from the beach looked very different and brought out many shrimp larvae besides diatom shells. In the surroundings of the hotel the participants found geckos, hermits, spiders and much more. In the late evening we enjoyed the gorgeous starry sky from the beach and we were happy share our enthusiasm for astronomy with the other group members. The Andromeda galaxy spanned the full fieldof view in 8x42 binoculars. Tips for astrophotography were shared to capture the amazing view. Ishigaki is not only a top destination for Japanese astronomy enthusiasts because of the observatory. The starry sky also fascinates visitors during special guided tours or in the Ishigaki planetarium. The summer Milky Way over the sea with the sounds of the jungle and the surf as soundtrack is simply fantastic!