Light pollution blots out the night sky for billions of people around the world, but there are still places where the night remains untouched by humans.
Minimum light pollution, dark cloudless nights, wide open air, and high altitudes are all factors that lead to the best conditions for skywatchers hoping to see amazing cosmic sights in locations around the world.
So, if you’re going to spend time and money hunting out the best skies around the globe, where should you go?
We have some ideas.
Here are our (unscientific, very subjective) picks for two locations on each continent that are great places to go for some A+ skywatching.
All that said, if traveling doesn’t fit into your schedule, there are plenty of websites like this Light Pollution Map or this Dark Site Finder that can direct you to the darkest skies with the clearest conditions near you.
An image of the Milky Way curving over the Atacama desert in Chile
Image: European southern observatory
Atacama Desert, Chile
It’s no coincidence that the world’s driest desert is also one of the best places to gaze at the stars.
The lack of cloud cover, high altitudes, and flat, barren terrain give skywatchers unabridged access to an entire horizon.
The desert is also the home to the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which is a large telescope created in a joint effort by the United States, Europe, and East Asia.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
At nearly 12,000 feet above sea level the Uyuni Salt Flats in southwest Bolivia should already be on everybody’s bucket list. (It’s the largest salt flat in the world.)
But at high altitudes, the natural beauty serves a secondary purpose as an all-access pass to the stars. Guides suggest going to the flats during the rainy season (December through March), which flood the surface and turn the ground into a mirror for the sky.
Stars illuminate the sky above a rock formation in the Teide National Park in 2014.
Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Canary Islands, Spain
The people of the Canary Islands take their stargazing very seriously.
This tiny island is the home of a very important observatory, which can be affected by light pollution from nearby urban development. So a new partnership with a light company called Signify aims to rectify that issue by installing astronomy-friendly smart LED lights that can be dimmed remotely.
Sutherland, Northern Cape
Sutherland is so great for stargazing that scientists built the Southern Hemisphere’s largest single-optical telescope here — known as SALT or Southern African Large Telescope.
If you’re ever in Cape Town, it’s probably worth the four-hour drive to the top of a long, winding road to catch a glimpse of some of the greatest stargazing the world has to offer.
Jasper National Park, Canada
This massive national park takes up about 4,200 square miles of Canada’s natural splendor.
Because the entire area is protected from light pollution, anywhere in the park has access to breathtaking views. Some noteworthy sites are the Columbia Icefields, Pyramid Island Lake, and Medicine Lake.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The top of this dormant volcano is the site of one of the most important observatories and testing sites to the world’s astronomers — making it a guaranteed success for anyone just trying to get in some good stargazing.
Normally, stargazing in Trysil is a treat — the wide expanse of sky nearly engulfs the viewers.
But if you time it right, stargazing and Milky Way hunting in Trysil could turn into a festival of lights since the Northern Lights will occasionally put on a show for those willing to brave the bitter cold.
Westhavelland International Dark Sky Reserve, Germany
Home to the darkest skies in Germany, Westhavelland is one of the newest inductees into the International Dark Sky Reserves — which is an organization dedicated to protecting our views of skies around the world.
Westhavelland is also a nature reserve that’s essentially a huge meadow sprinkled with lakes and woodlands.
Astro-tourism is a burgeoning industry in Malaysia.
The absence of light pollution and cloudless seasons make places like Sabah the perfect backdrop for those wanting to find a stargazing road less traveled.
Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand
It goes without saying that most of the world’s most beautiful skies belong to the mountains.
In Thailand, the summit of Doi Chiang Dao is the third tallest peak in Thailand which gives you the ability to drink in the sky without facing a very difficult trail.
Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand
The uninterrupted space in this corner of the world provides some of the best sky watching around.
The New Zealand park itself boasts of wide array of natural beauty, but nothing compares to the millions of stars visible every night when the sky is clear.
Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia
Australia is another one of those places in the world, like Norway, where sky watching could turn into a rare showing of the auroras.
Much like the rest of Australia, in Coonabarabran, stargazing is an integral part of any real outback experience where an endless amount of stars illuminate the sky so much that you’d believe it’s daytime.
The southern lights light up the sky over the South Pole
Image: Dr. Keith Vanderlinde/ national science foundation
Back in 2009, a study determined that Ridge A, a spot deep in the interior of frigid Antarctica, was actually the best place on Earth for stargazing.
Unfortunately, it’s an area so inhospitable that no human has ever been there.
But, if you can get to any part of Antarctica, look up. The sky won’t get much better than it is above this light pollution-free continent.
from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2ngR3oa