The Milky Way is one of the most beautiful and underrated natural wonders. Yet, with so much light pollution in our cities and towns, it can be hard to take in the full beauty of the stars. Fortunately, the world is full of places to get an impeccable view of the brilliant night sky. If you are fascinated by the planets and constellations above, check out these great stargazing destinations.
Located in northern Chile, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. While plants and wildlife are scarce in this desolate landscape, it is the perfect place for stargazing. There are few clouds in this region and practically no light pollution or interference from radio waves. The desert is also high in altitude which, combined with its other attributes, allows for exceptional visibility of Southern Hemisphere stars. You’ll get to see famous constellations like the Southern Cross, Tarantula Nebula, and the Fornax Cluster. You may even get a glimpse of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The crystal-clear skies of the Atacama Desert have made it a popular destination for travelers, so there are many options for accommodations and guided tours if you decide to visit.
Natural Bridges National Monument—United States
Tucked away in a remote region of Utah, the Natural Bridges National Monument has gained world renown for its dark, clear skies and natural rock formations. This area is also famous for its river of light. The river of light is a natural phenomenon that occurs from the Milky Way rising over the Owachomo Bridge. This is also a great location for night photography as you’ll get breathtaking shots of the bridges framing thousands of stars in the sky above. If you’re planning a visit, an overnight camping trip is the best way to experience the astronomical wonders at Natural Bridges National Monument.
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park—Japan
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is the best place for stargazing in Japan. Situated in the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa, the park attracts tourists and amateur astronomers for its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer. This location is great because it grants an unparalleled view of nearly all the internationally recognized constellations. The only downside to stargazing at Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is that you might have your view disrupted by poor weather as clouds and rain are more common here than compared to the other top stargazing destinations. Luckily, if you do have to take a break from the wonders of space, the Yaeyama Islands are full opportunities to experience local cuisine and the area’s rich marine life and tropical rainforests.