You’ve got yourself a pretty decent telescope, but where are the best places in the world to stargaze? Here are 10 best places in the world to stargaze.
What This Covers
10 Best Places to Stargaze Across the Globe
We’ve incorporated sites from the National Geographic list of the world’s best stargazing sites. These are places for using optimal power of your telescope and astronomy binoculars. Check out my reviews of telescopes for planet viewing and my article on using binoculars in stargazing.
1. Atacama Desert, Chile
Lauded as being nowhere better to see the stars, this place is about 2500 meters above sea level and 45-min by car from San Pedro. The nearest tourist town is Calama.
A southern hemisphere option. You can view the southern night sky clearly at this dark location where the landscape makes you feel like you’re walking on Mars.
There is the observatory, San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (SPACE), that is open to visitors.
Constellations: Southern Cross (Crux), the Big Dipper, and Alpha Centauri.
What’s good about this place? It’s low light pollution and lack of cloud cover, and of course, the observatory that’s open for sessions.
2. High Volcanoes of Hawaii
You’ll find a world-leading observatory at this spot, so it must be good! You need to be a lover of high altitudes and cold temperatures for this one with the best viewing at 9-10 thousand feet.
3. National Parks of the South West United States
There are a few parks to choose from that are seasonally optimal for stargazing. These range from Acadia in the Northeast to Mount Rainier in the Northwest, Yellowstone in Wyoming, the Badlands in South Dakota, and Big Bend in Texas.
In 2007, the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah became the world’s first designated dark-sky park.
Glacier Point in Yosemite is a popular summer viewing location for amateur astronomers.
Death Valley is another and has accommodation fitted out with sky-friendly lights to attract the sky-watchers.
4. La Palma, Canary Islands
Off the coast of north-west Africa, a major observatory exists on the Canary Islands at the edge of Caldera de Taburiente at an altitude of nearly eight thousand feet. This one requires some hiking.
Another high altitude spot at this location is Teide National Park, which boasts a volcano with the highest point in the Atlantic Ocean.
5. Western Australia Outback
There are many parks and just open spaces of Western Australia that are great for stargazing within an hour or two of the capital city, Perth. Close locations include Gingin and Toodyay. There is an observatory and space places designated nearby.
Known as the Wheatbelt, on a moonless night, the Milky Way will seem bright and endless.
The best national park location for this is the Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park. Travel along the Indian Ocean Drive on the Coral Coast and you’ll capture some great views.
6. Arizona Sky Village
This 450-acre purpose-built village is nestled beside the Chiricahua Mountains. The closest city is Phoenix, which is about 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.
Astronomers, amateur stargazers and photographers from all over the globe come to this place for its spectacular night sky views.
What makes this place special is the village’s ‘no outdoor light’ rule.
There’s not much to do here in the daytime but the night is abuzz with activity.
7. The Sahara Desert, Morocco
Deserts are great for low light pollution and lack of cloud cover.
The sky at night in the Sahara illuminates as far as the eye can see. The Milky Way makes a clear statement and constellations like the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and Cassiopeia can be clearly depicted.
There are tours on offer, so you don’t need to go it alone.
8. Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile
The Polynesians were apt sea voyagers who used the night sky to navigate. On Easter Island, the stargazing interest continues and you can learn the about the principles and the key night-sky objects used by navigators.
This place is about 6 hours by plane from Santiago de Chile or from Tahiti (French Polynesia).
9. Trysil, Norway
In the remote alpine ski resort of Trysil you’ll find cabins for stargazing. The place is about 3½ hours drive from Oslo, Norway. This is a site for viewing the northern lights.
10. NamibRand National Reserve, Namibia
NamibRand is a private nature reserve in the south of Namibia and is said to be Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve. It is another southern hemisphere option.
The site is about a 6-hour drive from Windhoek, the closest major city.
The reserve “lies in one of the naturally darkest, yet accessible, places on Earth” according to the International Dark-Sky Association.
Other best stargazing spots, cited by numerous sources:
11. Pic du Midi, France
Many other locations exist that can give you a great clear night sky view.
There might be a place close to you.
Australia is a place known for its large open spaces with clear skies ideal for stargazing, particularly in the interior of Australia and not confined to Western Australis.
Wherever you are, you’ll want somewhere away from light pollution.
You may have to go farther afield than your neighborhood, with light pollution currently impacting the abodes of 80% of the North Americans.
Tool to Find the Dark Sky Places
Where is the darkest place on the planet? Or other dark sky places?
This may become the Holy Grail of astronomy given the extent of light pollution on Earth today. Earth’s nights are becoming ever brighter with modern development, making it increasingly harder to find good spots to view and study celestial objects.
Already, light has impinged on established astronomy research institutions, like the Sydney Observatory in Australia, which no longer operates for research because of light impingement.
One place, the San Pedro de Atacama region of Northern Chile is said to be the darkest place on Earth for stargazing.
Find a designated dark sky spot in US and elsewhere at darksky.org
Where’s Your Dark Spot for Stargazing?
You may have to travel some miles to find a dark location or perhaps you are lucky and only need to go a short distance. Let us know in the comment section below of any dark spots to add to the list.
Or if you have been to one of the above places, you might like to share your experience.
“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking
- International Dark Sky Places conservation program – link