Top 5 Stargazing Spots Mar 3, 2017 by Ian (Awesome Escape Blogger)
Living and working in the big city has some amazing advantages. But one of the subtle consequences that comes from living in the city is unavoidable light pollution. We can’t look up at the stars and think about our place in the universe or admire the otherworldly beauty of the sparkling constellations. But we all need the opportunity to look at the stars in our lives. Sometimes a simple camping trip is enough to see the night sky, but if you want to find the best stargazing spots on the planet you might have to go a little farther.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Isolated in the Pacific Ocean by thousands of miles of open water are the volcanic peaks of Hawaii. The steep slope of Mauna Kea provides the best view after a short hike, but visitors should be wary of altitude sickness. The mountaintop is crowned with scientific observatories that study the heavens through massive telescopes, but tourists can visit the Visitor Information Center for free stargazing tours every night from 6pm to 10pm. The thin air and high elevation reveal an amazing panoply of stars.
Aoraki (Mount Cook), New Zealand
Aoraki (also known as Mount Cook) is the highest mountain in New Zealand and home to a large observatory. Over four thousand square miles around the mountain were designated the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Preserve in 2012 to protect the crystal-clear view of the heavens around the observatory. Several groups in the region provide tours to study the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere in the largest expanse of protected night sky in the world.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game preserves in the world: 7,300 square miles of flat savanna and bushveld with few trees. Not only is this an amazing place to see lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinoceroses, the clear skies and flat landscape provide priceless views of the night sky over Africa. Visitors can sleep under the stars, far from any human civilization, or stay at one of the numerous luxury lodges found in the park for a more comfortable way to admire the night sky.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Isolated on a high plateau in northern Chile are six hundred miles of barren desert encircled by the dry slopes of the Andes. The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world and the lack of moisture in the air, coupled with the elevation, makes this one of the clearest parts of the sky on the planet. Hotels and observatories in the area have dedicated packages for stargazing tourists. At night you can see the stars with unparalleled precision and clarity, surrounded by the alien desert that already looks like the surface of the moon.
The Torneträsk Lake creates a unique microclimate free of cloud cover called the “blue hole of Abisko” that is ideal for stargazing and waiting for an elusive glimpse of the northern lights. Located far to the north in Swedish Lapland, Kiruna is home to the Esrange Space Center and provides access to the nearby Abisko National Park. Admire the stars, the mountainous terrain, and the northern lights if you’re lucky.