The most beautiful places for stargazing
Explore the night sky from some of the starriest locations in the world
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing - which conveniently also coincided with a lunar eclipse on Tuesday - putting Earthlings in the mood for a spot of stargazing.
Here are some of the most beautiful places to look up at the sky.
Atacama Desert, Chile
The barren Atacama desert, comprised largely of sand and rocks, has a bleak beauty to it. Both professionals - with the assistance of an international astronomy facility’s high-precision antenna - and enthusiastic amateurs are able to use high-powered telescopes to gaze into the night sky to get a perfect view, undimmed by light pollution. The result is a canopy that is pitch black, lit by just the twinkling stars of the southern hemisphere.
HOW: book for the highlights of Chile package with Scott Dunn, stopping in at Santiago, Torres del Paine and winelands from £6300 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights. www.scottdunn.com
Beana Laponia, Finnish Lapland
The wilderness boutique hotel in Meltaus offers beautiful accommodation for a wonderfully romantic break. Look up into the magnificent interstellar view shrouded by the aurora borealis, with only the warmth of a campfire and the stories of your personal guide.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a five-night Finnish Lapland itinerary from £2,900 per person. This is based on a couple spending four nights at Beana Laponia on a B&B basis, and one night at the Golden Crown Glass Igloos on a half board basis, and includes return international flights, private airport transfers and a selection of experiences. For more information visit www.scottdunn.com or call 020 8682 5080.
Canary Islands, Spain
The promise of clear skies and, consequently, meteor showers attract many visitors to the Canary Islands each year. Law on the Spanish islands protect the area from radio waves, light, and even flights, making this one of the clearest sky views in Europe. The world-class astronomical observatories are equipped with huge solar telescopes that are available to the public.
HOW: Let your childhood dream come true and enjoy a unique experience under the stars by renting a Bubble from Bubbletent Canarias, which are located in the middle of Gran Canaria. Fully equipped to offer you an unforgettable glamping experience under the stars. bubbletentcanarias.com
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
The second official Dark Sky Park in the US and the only one on the East Coast, this state park offers magnificent views of so many astronomical sights, including Venus, the Andromeda galaxy, the International Space Station, Omega Nebula, and the Northern Lights. The park also comes alive in spring and summer each night, as nocturnal creatures venture out to hunt - and possibly also enjoy the heavens as well.
Milaidhoo Island, Maldives
Sleep under the stars on the soft white sands on Milaidhoo Island. The turquoise, calm waters reflect the skies above, adding a sense of tranquility and wonder to this sky-gazing experience like no other. Travellers will be able to see constellations clearly, along with the occasional shooting star and possibly even a meteor shower.
HOW: Milaidhoo can be easily reached via a 30-minute seaplane from the international airport in Male or a 15-minute domestic flight to Dharavandhoo domestic airport in Baa Atoll, followed by a 15-minute speedboat to Milaidhoo Island. The ‘Sleep Under the Stars Experience’ at Milaidhoo starts from $3,000++ per night for two people. For more information and booking please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.milaidhoo.com
Sossusvlei Desert, Namibia
The Sossusvlei Desert is the perfect spot for stargazing in the African night skies. With some of the darkest skies on Earth, this desert makes for an optimal vacation experience, as the remote area has no light pollution. The spectacular nights are electrified by bright stars in the Milky Way that show groupings of constellations normally invisible in city and suburban life.
HOW: Ampersand Travel (020 78199770 // www.ampersandtravel.com) offers stays at both Wolwedans Dune Camp and Sossusvlei Desert Lodge as part of the 13-night ‘Starry-Eyed Namibia’ itinerary from £6,250 per person, including international flights from London and transfers.
Trollaskagi Peninsula, Iceland
This hidden gem in North Iceland is separated from the rest of the country by high mountains. Spend the night away from the busy tourist areas in landscape that will blow you away. The perfect place to enjoy the night sky without another soul in sight.
HOW: Find out more about what to see and do in North Iceland at www.visittrollaskagi.is