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Home / Travel / Los Angeles, Pic du Midi and the Atacama Desert: World’s most extraordinary sites for stargazing

Los Angeles, Pic du Midi and the Atacama Desert: World’s most extraordinary sites for stargazing

Add these destinations to your bucket list for the ultimate stargazing experiences, just the way nature intended.

travel Updated: Oct 07, 2020, 13:34 IST
hindustantimes.com | Edited by Jahnavi Gupta
hindustantimes.com | Edited by Jahnavi Gupta
Hindustan Times, Delhi
For ages people have looked up at the sky and imagined the possibilities that the world has to offer.
For ages people have looked up at the sky and imagined the possibilities that the world has to offer. (Unsplash)

There are very few wonders in the world that can compare to the vast magnificence of the night sky. Littered with thousands of stars and far away planets, for ages people have looked up at the sky and imagined the possibilities that the world has to offer. A haven for daydreamers and a guiding light for keen minds.

For many metropolitans’ cities, a clear night sky where stars are clearly visible might sound like a myth. The stories of sailors using constellations and stars to guide their expeditions is almost comical to believe now. The air and light pollution make it almost impossible to view the night sky in all its uncontained glory. But there are certain places in the world that remain untouched to a certain degree, allowing all visitors to experience the rare phenomenon that is a starry sky.

Now more than ever, every glimpse of hope is to be appreciated, no matter where it comes from and even though international travel is still in straits, add these ultimate stargazing destinations to your travel bucket list, and visit them once the pandemic calms down.

Pic du Midi de Bigorre, France

Simply known as the Pic du Midi, this mountain is located in the French Pyrenees and is also the sight of the Pic du Midi Observatory. It is popularly known as the site where NASA’s scientists studied the moonscape for the preparation of the ‘Apollo Landing’. The mountain houses one the ‘Pyrénées-Mont Perdu landscape’, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cable car escorts you from La Mongie to the summit, where you can book and overnight stay for an unforgettable night spent under the stars.

Los Angeles, California, United States

A visit to Los Angeles, California may give you the perfect opportunity to do both kinds of stargazing, even though the ever-present blanket of smog makes it slightly difficult to see the night sky. The Griffith Observatory located high on top of Mount Hollywood makes for the perfect place to get your dose of the more conventional stars. Depending on the time of year, the astronomically intrigued can view Jupiter, Venus, star clusters, double stars and nebulae from the observatory and with the help of the telescopes present, one can even get incredible detailed visuals of the moon’s surface.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

This national park encompasses more than 7,500 square miles and is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Apart from the usual attractions of wild animals and luxury resort stays, this reserve also offers some of the most stunning views of the night sky. Due to a lack of light pollution in the remote areas, the skies light up each night and any keen observer armed with just a pair of binoculars can witness the Southern Cross, Scorpio and even the rings of Saturn.

The Atacama Desert, Chile

One of the most dry places on planet Earth is located in Northern Chile. Due to the harsh conditions and almost minimal rainfall, the barren landscape is not very compatible with the plants and wildlife. However, the high altitude, lack of light pollution, zero radio interference and few clouds, make the Atacama Desert an ideal stargazing spot. Astro-tourists from around the world flock to this desert to view some of the most famous constellation of the Southern Hemisphere, such as the Tarantula Nebula, the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, the Southern Cross and even the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

Rhön Biosphere Reserve, Germany

This UNESCO-established biosphere reserve is popularly known as the ‘land of endless horizons. From here visitors can get crystalline views of the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy. The mountain range on which the reserve rests is located in the German states of Hesse, Bavaria and Thuringia. A non-profit organisation at the Rhön Star Park also offers guided stargazing and night walks.

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