Earlier this month I had the incredible honor to present the Capella Constellation Series to our CEO & Chairman of Capella Hotels & Resorts, Mr. Horst Schulze & our Board of Directors! It was a bitter cold evening in February, but the night sky was gorgeous and clear. The gentlemen met me in the Capella Living Room, where Mr. Schulze asked our guide, University of Maryland Astronomer, Alex McCormick, to give us a brief introduction of “what we [were] about to see.” Alex explained that the Capella Constellation Series is a brand new experience for hotel guests and the public that includes an interactive three-course meal and wine pairing in The Grill Room, followed by an extraordinary stargazing experience on the rooftop lounge during dessert and beverages, all along learning about the universe from the guides themselves.
The stargazing experience begins with Alex identifying and discussing familiar objects in the night sky, first with the naked eye and then using astronomical binoculars. Then, using Capella Washington, D.C.’s magnificent research grade telescope, we observe the stars, planets, and moons in greater (and informed!) detail.
We arrived to the rooftop and Alex explained to each of us that there are specific stars in the sky that we can use to help us locate different constellations. I won’t to give too much away, but let’s just say this activity left the entire group very impressed! We were all excited to discover that once we located the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere, we were able to find the Capella Star, directly above the hotel!
Capella is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga and the sixth brightest star in the night sky. Capella also occupies one vertex of the Winter Hexagon, a pattern of bright stars connecting six different constellations.
To our unaided eye, it looks like one bright star, but Capella is actually a system of four stars. The two brightest stars are similar in color to our Sun, but each of them is about 10 times the diameter of the Sun, and approximately 2.5-2.7 times the mass of the Sun. At approximately 42 light years from Earth, we have a hard time separating these two bright stars even with a very large telescope. In order to get their separation, astronomers used a technique called interferometry, which employs two points of view separated by some distance in order to provide better resolution. Capella was the first astronomical object outside of our Solar System successfully observed with interferometry!
Mr. Schulze and our Board of Directors had a wonderful evening and were fascinated by the stars and planets that we were able to see through the telescope from Capella’s rooftop.
For questions regarding upcoming Capella Constellation Series experience as well as to make reservations, please contact Elisabeth Thomas at (202) 617-2429 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.