7 World’s Best Destinations For Stargazing
Since humankind first looked to the sky in wonder, we have dreamed of both figuratively and literally reaching for the stars. Ever since technology has allowed us to gaze closely at the stars, the astral bodies have only filled us with more wonder.
While learning the composition of stars and how they’re created can be fun, there’s a charm to simply admiring the natural light they project in every direction. Despite our ability to stare with things like telescopes and special Doppler radars, stargazing sans technology is still more fun.
The light pollution of most cities prevents us from seeing the stars are they are. But here is a list of a few places where there is so little light, your eyes are all you need:
1. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
This particular state park stands at 82 acres in the northern area of Pennsylvania in Potter County. It is said to be so dark in the park, over 9,000 stars can be seen from within the park with the human eye.
Even more amazing than the number of stars one can see, the Milky Way itself casts a shadow across the state park. It has the honor of being part of the group of International Dark Sky Parks, of which there are only twelve.
2. NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
NamibRand is a private nature reserve situated in the Southwest of the country in the Namib Desert. Founded by a man named J.A. Brucker in 1984, the International Dark-Sky Association measures the skies above the reserve as some of the darkest measured so far.
Many of the safari packages offer stargazing as a part of a package that include a journey through a 600-acre park in the reserve. You’ll be able to take in the beauty of Africa’s animals and the cascading luminescence of the astral bodies above.
3. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand
The largest reserve in the International Dark-Sky Association’s system (4367 km), it was created in June 2012 after an application was submitted by the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Working Party at the beginning of 2012.
The Dark Sky Reserve is located in the south island’s Mackenzie Basin. It is said to be so dark here, you can see two irregular dwarf galaxies known as the Magellanic Clouds. The sight of young galaxies must be amazing, regardless of the method used to observe it.
4. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
One of four places in the UK to be designated a Dark Sky Park, Galloway Forest Park first opened in 2012 with partial funding from the government. The International Dark-Sky Association first convened in 2009 to discuss the park’s status.
This park treats visitors to a rare sight that is only seen in the Northern Hemisphere. From this part of the world, visitors to the park are able to see the vibrant glow of colors from the aurora borealis.
Check the forecast to ensure no clouds will obstruct your vision during your stay.
5. Zselic Starry Sky Park, Hungary
Zselic was awarded Dark-Sky Park status in 2009 by the International Dark-Sky Association. In additions to the resting points that dot the forest, there is a 25m tall wooden belvedere and a public observatory.
The nearest city to the park Kaposvar gives stargazers little to no light pollution, making it easy to admire the ribbon of stars that stretch throughout the sky. The “zodiacal lights” as they are called, are said to be seen best between spring and autumn.
The park offers a “star walk” if following a sky map is not your thing.
6. Westhavelland International Dark Sky Reserve
The closest of the Dark Sky Reserves to a populated city, it earned it status in February of 2014. It is located about 62 miles (100km) from the capital of Berlin.
According to Dr. Andreas Haenel, director of the Museum Am Scholerberg’s planetarium, “I think the most fascinating experience is in autumn when thousands of migrating birds – wild geese and cranes – give an impressive background sound under the starry sky.”
7. Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, Ireland
New to Ireland’s tourism industry, the park was recognized officially in January of 2014. Located on the Iveragh Peninsula, the Dark Sky Reserve is about 270 square miles. The Kerry Mountains nearby shield the location from most light pollution.
Clear nights give visitors the rare treat of observing our galaxy’s neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 2.5 million light-years away.