Philosophers seeking answers, romantics feeling inspired or astronomers making new researches… all of them love to watch the sky at night, whenever the city lights and the pollution allow it. Cities are not very stars-friendly, but fortunately for all of us, there are still places in the world where we can see how the Milky Way covers the night sky with an intensely luminous cloak. Here, for you, are the 8 best places in the world for stargazing:
1. Algarve, Portugal: This sparsely populated region, which has about 300 sunny days a year, is considered one of the best places in Europe to observe the sky. At the end of every day it usually appears a spectacular starry sky.
Near the small town of Portimão, on the south coast of Algarve, we can find the Center for Astronomical Observação no Algarve. This private observatory has several powerful telescopes to observe the sky, and there is also accommodation inside to spend long astronomical nights.
2. South Africa: Three hours from Cape Town is Africa’s gateway to the universe: on a plateau at an altitude of 1.800 meters, the crystalline sky rises the gigantic dome of Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). This huge mirror of 11 meters is open to visits, but the stargazing observatory is open only to scientists; nevertheless, in the neighboring town of Sutherland there are several hotels that offer safaris with smaller astronomical telescopes.
3. Chile: The Atacama Desert, one of the most isolated, arid and highest regions of the world, is a major destination for astronomical observation.
Here are some of the largest telescopes, including the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the world’s largest radio telescope, with 66 gigantic individual antennas.
4. Rock, Australia: There is no artificial light anywhere. Therefore, the interior of Australia has one of the clearest starry skies of the world. The unpopulated area of inland Australia is at night a paradise for stargazers.
Moreover, sunset on Ayers Rock intersperses with the galactic show under the Southern Cross. The giant monolith itself gives the impression of being from another galaxy.
Ayers Rock, Australia
5. Jasper National Park, Canada: The Canadian wilderness is a dream destination for astronomers. The Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta offers the darkest night sky in the country. Jasper National Park is more accessible and is also virtually free of light pollution, and during the winter months we can also see here auroras.
Aurora in Canada
6. Mauna Kea, Hawaii: In the middle of the Pacific, at a height 4,200 meters above sea level, 13 telescopes with mirrors and satellite dishes rise above the crater rim of the volcano Mauna Kea, including giants like the two Keck telescopes with 10 meters reflectors.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
7. Tanzania: During the day, visitors can search view the Big Five in the African bush. At night, in the giant East African savannah, it’s worth directing telescopes skyward to observe giant galaxies, stars and planets.
8. Kitt Peak , USA: At first glance, 24 domes on the top of Kitt Peak mountain, with a height of 2.095 meters, recall an ancient city of temples. However, on this mountain in the American state of Arizona is where astronomers’ dreams come true.
Kitt Peak, USA
Stargazing photos: Jeff Wallace, Andrew, Bruce, Radical Retinoscopy, Adhemar M. Duro Jr., Sean Goebel, Javier de la Torre García, Wojtek Lesiak and Geoff Coleman.