Easter Island, Chile
It’s only extreme adventurers who venture to Easter Island. In this mysterious setting, you’ll feel the true magic after dark, when the sky comes alive with a million blazing stars that watch over the statues until sunrise.
Every sky-scanner’s bucket list should include seeing nature’s most remarkable light show, the Northern Lights. You’ll find the heavens ablaze with ethereal swirls of color in Trysil, eastern Norway, where ski slopes and hiking trails make it a fantastic outdoor destination. Stay in one of the stargazing cabins to watch the lights come to life against an inky night plotted with limitless constellations.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Perched atop the dramatic summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest sea mountain in the world, the observatory’s 13 telescopes represent 11 countries watching the twinkling heavens. Tour companies take keen stargazers up to the peak and offer detailed narratives on the history and significance of the astrological epicenter.
NamibRand National Reserve, Namibia
Stargazing is one of the prime activities offered at this remote nature reserve set in the arid Namib Desert in southern Namibia. Visitors come to watch amazing wildlife by day and star-filled skies by night at Africa’s first dark sky reserve. The sight of stars twinkling above sand dunes and mountains to the orchestra of an animal chorus is an unforgettable experience.
NamibRand National Reserve, D381, Namibia, +264 61 224 882
Pic du Midi, France
Keep your head in the clouds with a visit to the Pic du Midi. In summer, outdoor adventurers make the hike up to the top, while those coming in winter can take the cable car before staying the night in the sky-high hotel that offers use of the giant telescope to get a closer look at the looming galaxies and lunar craters.
Death Valley National Park, California
As the sun sets on Death Valley, in California’s desert, darkness reveals the expanse of the Milky Way in all its finery. As the world’s largest dark sky reserve, the 300 acres of expanse harbor some of the blackest night skies in the US; a great contrast to the neon flare of Las Vegas, just two hours’ drive away.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
The exceptionally dark sky over Cherry Springs, an 82-acre park in north-central Pennsylvania, means that a clear night will reveal an overwhelming sight of thousands of bright, glimmering stars. Visit during a new moon and you’ll find the Milky Way is so bright that it casts shadows, so stargazers can hold out their hands and admire the shapes on the ground below.
Atacama Desert, Chile
In this 600-mile stretch of dry and isolated desert in northern Chile, it’s the high-altitude, crystal-clear skies and little rainfall that contribute to the unparalleled stargazing opportunities. Various tours run stargazing excursions, and there are hotels with special packages for exploring the desert by night.
Aoraki Mackenzie, New Zealand
The dark sky reserve of Aoroki Mackenzie was the first to be designated in the Southern Hemisphere and remains the world’s biggest. The reserve recently gained a gold status for being almost entirely free of light pollution, allowing dazzling starlight to shine out against a pristine, inky-black sky.
Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park
Set in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is often explored by day, but it also provides the perfect backdrop to stargazing when night falls. Above the sky scraping, ancient sequoias, you’ll get a glimpse of faraway galaxies and shining stars of the Milky Way that are intense and inspiring without any light pollution. Stargazing tours are run at Glacier Point in summer.