Humans have been star gazing for centuries. Everyone seems to be fascinated with the expansiveness of the universe and, therefore, the secret it holds. The universe constantly reminds us that tiny we are and the desire to explore more about what’s up there.
In today’s time, awfully a very few people worldwide are fortunate to catch the charm of the night sky. Getting a glimpse of shooting stars and making wishes may even be a dream for several. Thanks to the increasing light pollution and chaos in metropolitan cities, it is next to impossible to identify the stars, and we will see that the moon. If the pollution graph keeps increasing, there’s a high chance that we won’t be able to see the moon likewise. It’s time we understand this and rectify our mistakes.
Astro-Tourism is the best escape for the darkness seekers who are hunting for the darkest and clear sky. Astro-tourism brings them closer to all the celestial bodies. In simple words, it is traveling to a remote destination where there is no light pollution, and you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the rare phenomena of the sky.
Under Astro-Tourism, there are a lot of activities that a tourist can undertake. Most of these activities are under the observation of an expert in Astronomy, such as Star Gazing, Aurora lights, Eclipse, Meteor shower, Space launch, Comet, and traveling to observe space objects on dark sky sites. You may fall short on exploring things on Earth, but the sky has no limits. Many of these things are rare and occur once a year or in centuries. All these astronomical phenomena have the potential to attract a large number of ordinary tourists.
There are private and public places where tourists can enjoy astronomical activities. Astro-Tourism offers a wide range of packages, from luxurious resorts to backpacker treks. Let’s look at a few famous places around the world where one can enjoy the night sky.
- Location: Alaska, United States
- Best season: August To April
- Specialty: Aurora (Northern lights)
There are many places where you can see the beauty of the northern lights, but the best place in Alaska. This city falls within the Auroras oval by the North Pole, in which the Aurora Borealis can be viewed between September and mid-April. The best selling point of this destination is the natural hot springs which is a perfect combination to enjoy the green and purple lights. Relax in the open hot springs and enjoy the dancing auroras show.
2. The Atacama Desert
- Location: Chile
- Best season: May To July
- Specialty: To view planets, galaxies and visit many astronomical observatories.
Chile features a perfect blend of geographical conditions being the driest place on earth after the North and South poles. A low amount of dust particles and an ideal level of humidity give Chile’s skies the right conditions to put in telescopes and contribute to the advancement of astrology and Astro-tourism. Chile is taken into account to be the world’s best destination for Astro activities.
Northern Chile boasts over 40 percent of the world’s astronomic observation canters, a figure that’s expected to climb to 60 percent within the approaching decade. Amateur astronomy enthusiasts find Chile’s vast night skies even as fascinating as the professionals do, which has recently fueled public interest and encouraged the country’s relevant government organizations to develop and expand upon its Astro-tourism offerings.
This Desert of Chile provides a transparent view of famous constellations of the hemisphere sky — including the Tarantula Nebula, the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, the constellation, and even the massive galaxy, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way Galaxy. Even some of the local hotels provide a start gazing setup.
3. Playalinda Beach, Canaveral National Seashore
- Location: Florida, Unites States
- Best season: During Space launch
- Specialty: Space launch
If you’re someone who likes to watch a rocket launch, this beach of Florida could be a perfect spot for you to enjoy. It’s located within a National park, so all you have to do is pay $10 as an entry fee. A brief walk along the beach and you’re just within the 5 miles of the launch provides you a good view of the launch activities. The summer timings of the park are longer than the winter, from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm and in the winter being 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
4. NASA Visitor Center
- Location: United States
- Best Season: All year round
- Specialty: Astro Museums and Space observatory centers.
When talking about anything related to space, NASA is the first thing that strikes our minds. Not many folks are aware that NASA provides tours at some centers and has museums, which are open for local people. There are multiple NASA centers across the US, many of which give tours or host visitor centers open to the public. Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston is among the highest visited center in the US. This center is more visited because it is home to mission control, the contact point for astronauts in space. This center also contains a massive museum with live events and hosts plenty of artifacts and interactive exhibits.
There are tram tours where visitors also get to see the current mission-control room, which is answerable for operations on the International space station. The Space Center Houston is open seven days every week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all summer long, and closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday after Sept. 4. Entry tickets are $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for kids ages 4-11. Children ages 3 and under are free.
5. Spiti Valley
- Location: Himachal Pradesh, India
- Best Season: March To June
- Specialty: Star Gazing, constellation along with trekking
Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh is a perfect spot for all astrophotography enthusiasts. It has the perfect landscape, which serves as a great place to spot constellations. In this cold desert, valley tourists trek all day and camp at night under the open sky and gaze at the stars. The Kibber village in Spiti valley is at the height of 14000 and is the highest memorable village in the world. Stargate Observatory is a private observatory that also arranges Astro-tours for the visitors.
We may not get to travel in space and take a round trip to the moon or Mars. But traveling on Earth in the hunt for dark skies to these distinct places will give you the experience of a lifetime. So lets all travel and dive in the dark sky to discover the secrets it holds.
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