Fall and winter, with their long nights, afford some of the best stargazing. We’ve rounded up places around the world where travelers can look up at the constellations in all their glory.
Acadia National Park
The Acadia Night Sky Festival (Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor; acadianightskyfestival.com; seven-day park pass, $25 a vehicle) runs from September 21 to 24, when the Milky Way is on prime display in Acadia National Park. Workshops, speakers and interactive events make it a must for amateur astronomers—plus, the dark skies are some of the least light-polluted in the country.
Mont-Mégantic National Park
Mont-Mégantic National Park (189 Route du Parc, Notre-Dame-des-Bois; 800-665-6527; sepaq.com; admission, $7*) was the first designated International Dark Sky Reserve (a destination where light pollution is reduced and carefully controlled). Here you can take in a sweeping array of stars and planets; Mars, Saturn and orbiting satellites are often spotted. Visit in autumn for the daytime bonus of the park’s stunning foliage.
In Chile, the Atacama Desert (Antofagasta; chile.travel) is a mecca for astro-tourists, who come to observe some of the clearest night skies on earth (especially in October and November) and visit the top-level observatories that are open to visitors. The groundbreaking ALMA Observatory (almaobservatory.org) offers free tours of the ALMA Operations Support Facility. The observatory’s antennae, scattered throughout the desert and more powerful than the Hubble Telescope, can reach some of the most distant galaxies.
The famous northern lights shine most brightly during the “endless nights” of November, December and February. Go to Svalbard (visitnorway.com), Norway, so far north it’s in the Arctic Circle, for a good chance of spotting the aurora borealis. It’s so dark here that the swirls of bright green lights sometimes appear even in the daytime.
- *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: September 2017