Astrotourism Is a Thing: 5 Otherworldly Places to Go Stargazing

Astrotourism Is a Thing: 5 Otherworldly Places to Go Stargazing

Watch Mother Nature strut her stuff at these five spectacular destinations around the world.

By Charyn Pfeuffer
We love it when Mother Nature shows off in a big way. From surreal landscapes to sights that take our breath away, our world is filled with abundant beauty. Everyone can look up at the sky, which makes stargazing instantly gratifying.

And now, official star-sighting sessions are on the rise in fabulous locations as so-called "astrotourism" takes off. Whether you prefer a guided tour or take a more DIY approach, here are some of the world’s most standout stargazing spots. Telescopes: optional. Oohs and aahs: guaranteed. 

1. Jasper, Alberta

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is the second largest dark sky preserve in the world. Within Jasper National Park, Marmot Meadows, Pyramid Island, and Athabasca Glacier are among the best places to marvel skyward. Celebrate all things celestial during the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, which takes place October 1 through 31 this year. Best part? It’s free. Or head to Jasper Planetarium to observe planets, moons, and stars through some of the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies.  

2. Sardón deDuero, Spain

Far from city lights, stars, planets, even the rings of Saturn appear close enough to touch at Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine in Spain’s Duero wine-growing region. Or so it seems with the hotel’s new stargazing program, which combines pitch-black skies, a powerful new Celestron CPC 1100 GPS telescope, and peerless viewing conditions. The Stellar Tourism Experience begins with a short intro to astronomy followed by stargazing. In addition, guests may take an astrophotography class and shoot nighttime pictures.  

3. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

At night, clear skies and kiss-the-sky high altitude makes this desert in northern Chile an ideal star-gazing location. Several local outfitters offer guided night sky tours. Insider tip: The best time for viewing is the six day period around the full moon. Astronomy buffs should check out the new Alma observatory, the world’s largest astronomical project located 20 miles northeast of the oasis town.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Because of its high elevation, arid climate, and remote location, Bryce Canyon has one of the darkest skies in all of North America. At the rim of the canyon, this magnificent park affords brilliant views of the galaxy Andromeda, Jupiter, and Venus, and thousands of stars. On a moonless night, more than 7,500 stars are visible. The park offers more than 100 astronomy programs per years, including its Night Sky Programs, full-moon hikes, and its four-day astronomy festival each summer.

5. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Sierra County, New Mexico is the home of Spaceport America where space tourism literally lifts off. Though tours are only offered by day, there is very little light pollution in Sierra County and many opportunities to view the Milky Way and millions of stars in the night skies. Riverbend Hot Springs, located right on the banks of the Rio Grande, has several outdoor mineral hot springs where you can soak and take in phenomenal views. A mile up the road, Elephant Butte State Park, transforms into a mysterious stargazing location, with the blackness of the water rivaling the dark night skies.  

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