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11 of The Best Destinations For Stargazing

These are some of the best destinations for stargazing in the world offering a mesmerizing glimpse into the vastness and beauty of the cosmos. For those seeking the perfect celestial spectacle, these stand out as havens for observing the night sky in all its glory.

From remote deserts with minimal light pollution to high-altitude mountaintops boasting crystal-clear skies, these stargazing destinations promise awe-inspiring experiences.


Destinations For Stargazing

Whether you’re an amateur astronomer, a passionate astrophotographer, or simply someone who marvels at the wonders of the universe, these celestial hotspots offer unparalleled opportunities to connect with the cosmos.

Of course, there are many, many, more places for great stargazing in the world, just head into any desert away from any light source, or up into the mountains above any cloud, and you will see some amazing stars. Having said that, these are 10 of the best options if you can make it to them.


Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert is known for its incredibly dry and clear skies, making it an ideal location for stargazing. The region is home to various observatories, including the famous ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array).

This is one of my favourite places in the world for stargazing and I visited many observatories when there.


La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

La Palma is home to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, one of the world’s premier observatories. The island’s high altitude and clear skies make it an excellent destination for amateur and professional stargazers alike.

This is the best place to go to if you live in Europe as it’s easy to reach from there and can even be done as a long weekend break.


Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Joshua Tree National Park is a popular destination for stargazers due to its relatively close proximity to Los Angeles and its dark skies. The park regularly hosts astronomy programs and events.

If you live in Los Angeles, California or nearby, then this is easily one of the best destinations for stargazing you can go to.


Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Located in the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo benefits from clear skies and low light pollution. The nearby Mount John Observatory offers public stargazing tours and provides access to powerful telescopes.


Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal

Known for containing Mount Everest, Sagarmatha National Park offers stunning views of the night sky, especially from higher altitudes. The lack of pollution and remote location contributes to its appeal for stargazing.


Exmoor National Park, England, UK

Exmoor National Park was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011, making it one of the best places for stargazing in the UK. Its rural location and low population density minimize light pollution.

You may be thinking what the hell is a stargazing destination doing in the UK given the country’s reputation with cloudy weather? But some of the main reader audience are from the UK so I wanted to point out that there is an option in their country for stargazing if you can’t make it to a place like La Palma mentioned earlier.

Having said that, the Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve gives excellent opportunities for stargazing.


Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

The summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, is one of the best places on Earth for stargazing. With its high elevation, minimal light pollution, and clear skies, it hosts several observatories.


Warrumbungle National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Warrumbungle National Park is designated as Australia’s first Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). This recognition highlights the park’s commitment to preserving its pristine night skies and minimizing light pollution, making it an ideal destination for stargazing.


Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania, USA

Designated as a Dark Sky Park, Cherry Springs State Park offers some of the darkest skies on the East Coast of the United States, making it a haven for stargazers and astrophotographers.


Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand

This dark sky reserve, located on New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the largest Dark Sky Reserves in the world. It offers pristine night skies and excellent conditions for stargazing.

If you are in Queenstown, Christchurch or any other place on the south island, then this is an excellent place to go to.


NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

This reserve is one of Africa’s largest private nature reserves and has been designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Its remote location and lack of light pollution make it perfect for stargazing.


What To Take With You Stargazing

Telescope: A telescope is perhaps the most important tool for serious stargazers. Telescopes come in various types, including refractor, reflector, and compound (or catadioptric). Consider factors such as aperture size, focal length, and portability when choosing a telescope.

Mount: A sturdy mount is crucial for supporting your telescope and keeping it stable during observations. There are two main types of mounts: alt-azimuth (up-down, left-right movements) and equatorial (aligned with the Earth’s axis). Equatorial mounts are preferred for astrophotography because they can track celestial objects more accurately.

Eyepieces: Eyepieces are interchangeable lenses that determine the magnification and field of view of your telescope. Having a selection of eyepieces with different focal lengths allows you to adapt to different observing conditions and targets.

Night Vision Goggles: Night vision goggles can be great for stargazing if you want to invest in some and can give a different and unique perspective for watching the stars.

Star Charts and Astronomy Apps: Star charts and astronomy apps can help you identify constellations, stars, planets, and other celestial objects in the night sky. They provide valuable information about object locations, rise and set times, and visibility conditions.

Red Flashlight: A red flashlight is essential for preserving your night vision while reading star charts, adjusting equipment, or navigating in the dark. Red light doesn’t disrupt your eyes’ adaptation to low light conditions as much as white light does.

Camera and Tripod (for Astrophotography): If you’re interested in capturing images of celestial objects, a DSLR camera with manual settings and a sturdy tripod are essential. You may also need additional accessories like a T-ring and adapter to attach the camera to your telescope.


Stargazing

Embarking on a stargazing journey offers more than just a glimpse into the night sky; it provides a profound connection to the universe and a humbling reminder of humanity’s place within it.

Whether you’re drawn to the majesty of distant galaxies, the subtle dance of planets, or the twinkling beauty of star clusters, these destinations for stargazing beckon with promises of wonder and discovery.

As you gaze upward may you find awe in the infinite expanse of the night sky.

For more like this have a look at the 10 best desert safari destinations in the world.


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