Professor Stephen Hawking once said:
“Remember to look up at the stars and now down at your feet.
Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.
And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.”
How often do you turn your eyes to the stars? Which answers are you looking for, stargazing? Every person has their own reasons for that, but sometimes it is nice to travel to the four corners of the world and see the stars in a different light.
With the darker nights drawing upon us, the main attraction can be looking for the best stargazing spots, especially during bonfire night and beyond with a cup of warm hot cocoa in your hands.
If you’re a keen planet spotter, or interested in constellations and the Milky Way then, you'll want to plan a trip to one of the best stargazing spots in the world. Luckily, there are unique destinations around the world that offer incredible views of the night sky, so even amateur astronomers can see the stars and have a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical experience.
1) Los Angeles, California, United States
Known primarily for another kind of star, the sort you’ll find in Hollywood and an ever-present blanket of smog, Los Angeles might not seem like an ideal place to go constellation-gazing. But the presence of the iconic Griffith Observatory, perched high atop Mount Hollywood, makes it a worthwhile destination for the astronomically intrigued.
Depending on the time of year, Jupiter, Venus, assorted double stars, clusters, and nebulae might be visible from Griffith Observatory. And with the facility’s powerful telescopes, you can get an incredibly detailed view of the moon and its craggy surface.
2) Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Japan
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, located in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, was the first place in Japan to receive International Dark Sky Places accreditation (and the second in all of Asia — the first was Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park in South Korea).
The park is located on the Yaeyama Islands, close to the Tropic of Cancer, and from it you can see up to 84 of the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. However, viewing conditions on any given night depend on the season and weather conditions.
3) Kruger National Park, South Africa
The largest game reserve in South Africa, Kruger National Park encompasses more than 7,500 square miles. Most visitors come hoping for a sighting of the famous Big Five — lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and water buffalo — as well as a luxurious stay in a high-end safari lodge.
However, the park’s remote location and lack of light pollution make for impeccable night-sky viewing opportunities, with the flat savanna and bushveld an ideal terrain for training binoculars on the Southern Cross, Scorpio, and rings of Saturn. Adding a nighttime astronomy experience to your game-drive itinerary is a must on any visit to Kruger National Park.
4) Mauna Kea, Hawaii, United States
About 2,500 miles southwest of California and studded with high volcanic peaks, the islands of Hawaii have evolved into one of the world’s premier astronomy destinations, and the Mauna Kea summit on the Big Island is perhaps the most famous stargazing spot in Hawaii.
High above the town of Hilo, close to Mauna Kea’s 13,803-foot peak, sits Mauna Kea Observatory, the largest research observatory in the world. It’s a major astronomy hub, home to thirteen of the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes.
What’s more, Mauna Kea is one of the only places in the world where you can drive from sea level to nearly 14,000 feet in about 2 hours, just make sure to stop at the Visitor Information Station to acclimatize so you don’t get altitude sickness.
5) Pic du Midi, France
If Pic du Midi in the French Pyrénées mountains is a good enough spot for NASA scientists to take photographs of the surface of the Moon in preparation for the Apollo missions, it’s good enough for us. You can take a cable car from La Mongie to the summit, where a mountaintop observatory is perched above the clouds.
Plus, the reserve encompasses both a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Pyrénées-Mont Perdu) and a French national park (Pyrénées National Park), and you can even book an overnight stay at the Pic for an unforgettable sleep under the stars.
Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.