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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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    Where are the best destinations in the world for stargazing?

    If you’re a dedicated stargazer you may have had your fill of the night sky above your immediate location. Perhaps you’re dying to travel the ends of the earth to discover new and exciting star patterns and beautiful night time scenes that can only be seen in very specific places.

    Stargazers
    destinations for stargazingRoger Smith / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

    Travelling with your scope

    There is a great article here about choosing a telescope for travelling which is well worth a read and you will most likely want to take your own equipment and a telescope you are familiar with to ensure you can enjoy the sights.

    There is a range of Travel Scopes within the Celestron telescope family that I would recommend. The Travel Scope 70 from Celestron is a refractor design telescope and comes with a tripod, both of which fit into a custom designed backpack for ease of travel.

    An alternative to a telescope is a pair of astronomy binoculars. If you are shopping for astronomy binoculars look for a pair with a large aperture (the size of the front lenses on the binoculars). These are obviously much more portable than a telescope and if space is at a premium they can be a great option.

    If you’re wondering where to go and what you’ll see when you get there, then take a look at our five best stargazing destinations:

    Reykjavik, Iceland

    Why? Because of the Aurora Borealis – Iceland is the best place to catch the Northern Lights in all their glory. The waves of almost supernatural-seeming light are sure to amaze, astound and delight you as they have thousands of travellers before.

    You’ll have to get out of the city for the best views, of course, but there are plenty of things to do in the day time. And at night, all you need to do is drive in pretty much any direction and look up – the northern sky will reveal itself. And, of course, there are many more hours of darkness to indulge your stargazing hobby.

    Tenerife, Spain

    A warmer option than Iceland, and a community of stargazing hotels at your fingertips make this ideal. The Parador de Canadas del Teide is close to the base of Mount Teide (the world’s third largest volcano) and, if you request it nicely, staff will wheel a high end telescope into the grounds for you to use. Or there’s the Bahia del Duque, which has an in-house observatory. The best time to go is just before a new moon, as the sky is at its darkest.

    You’ll see Ursa Major and the Plough, as well as great views of Mars and Neptune.

    Florence, Italy

    Galileo’s hometown offers the Florence Institute and Museum of the History of Science where you can look at the great man’s telescopes. Not through them, unfortunately. But outside the city, you’ll find the Arceti Astrophysical Observatory where you can see amazing close ups of the moon and the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, named after the man who discovered them in his hometown.

    Uluru, Australia

    This huge monolith offers some of the best stargazing in Australia. The local Sounds of Silence experience offers luxurious dinners under the stars, where you’ll see everything from a southern hemisphere perspective, including Libra and the Large Magellanic Cloud.

    Atacama Desert, Chile

    This is the closest you’ll probably ever experience to stepping foot on another planet as the Atacama is the highest, driest desert in the world. It has red soil that is very similar to the soil that’s been found on Mars. There is hardly any light pollution so there is a huge, vast panorama of stars to view.

    There’s not much to do out there apart from stargaze and it attracts thousands of astronomers from all over the world. The local hotels strictly enforce quiet in the daytime and come alive at night, as that is the primary reason for people to go there.

    The Hotel Elqui Domos has geodesic domes, where the bedrooms open up completely to the sky, which means you can truly sleep under the stars.

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