Space: the final frontier, the place where no one can hear you scream and the home of the greatest light show in the galaxy.
Even if you don’t know your nebulas from your supernovas, you can appreciate the beauty of a clear night – or at least you could if it weren’t for those pesky streetlights. To witness the heavens at their jaw-dropping, camera-snapping, head-turning best, you need to get way outa town, to a place where night is as black as night and the skies are are bright as street lights.
My god, it’s full of stars!
Starway to heaven
For the first 6,000 years of human history, seeing the stars was as simple as stepping outside on a clear night and casting your gaze heavenward. Then the industrial revolution arrived and the rest is smog-shrouded history. By the time gas lamps were illuminating the back streets of London, starry skies were on the wane. Today, it’s estimated that 90% of Brits never have the opportunity to witness a spectacle that was once taken for granted.
Gasping at the gorgeousness of it all
Star-gazing may demand more effort these days, but the rewards are as rich as ever. Here are eight ink black destinations that will transport you to another galaxy.
Cerro Armazones. Image: Flickr
1. Cerro Armazones, Chile
With cloudless nights for 90% of the year, Cerro Armazones is the perfect spot for star-gazing. No wonder an observatory has been built on the mountainside, complete with a 1.5m hexapod telescope for getting up close with the moon and her sparkling siblings.
Cerro Armazones. Image: Flickr
An inky black sky that’s perforated with stars
2. Death Valley National Park California
Red rocks, plunging canyons and undulating plains: Death Valley is a beautiful, desolate kinda place. By day you get to marvel at the panorama. By night, you’re treated to an inky black sky that’s perforated with stars. If you believe in a Creator, prepare to have your faith reinforced; the rest of us can settle for gasping at the gorgeousness of it all.
3. Kelling Hill, Norfolk
Regular star watching parties assemble on Kelling Hill, where this stunning pic of the Seven Sisters cluster was captured.
4. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
Pollution can assume many forms and for the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) the enemy is light. For serious star gazers, celestial light is welcomed, but all earthly forms are shunned. As one of only four Dark Sky Parks in the western world, Galloway Forest Park is as black as they come.
5. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Stars; constellations; galaxies – they’re all up there, hanging majestically over Lake Tekapo. Guided tours show aspiring astronomers where to cast their gaze and how to identify planets and stars. Shimmering under a full moon, the lake doesn’t look too shabby either.
6. Musala, Balkan Peninsula
Its name in Ottoman Turkish means “near god” and it’s easy to see why. The highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula stands just shy of 3,000 metres and promises unfettered views of the night sky. Just don’t expect your pictures to come out looking this good.
7. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
The world’s first International Dark Sky Park, National Bridges’ pedigree is impeccable. Officially, it’s a Bortle class two sky, which translates into plain English as “hella dark”. All the better for star spotting.
8. Paranal, Chile
In the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile lies a high-tech star-gazing device known as the VLT. What, pray, could VLT stand for? Why it’s the Very Large Telescope. How large are we talking? 8.2 metres. Put your binoculars away now before you embarrass yourself.
Take a trip to outer space
Searching for the stars? Choose a remote HomeAway rental and enjoy unfettered views of the night sky.Click for inspiration
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