Fascinating places to enjoy astronomical tourism

More and more people join astronomical tourism and travel to places where it is easier to contemplate the nightly ritual of the stars rotating over our heads. As the associations of astro-tourism and astrophotography grow, meetings and trips proliferate with the sole objective of observing phenomena such as eclipses or the northern lights in situ.

A continuación, una ruta por observatorios de todo el mundo para conocer las llamadas reservas de cielos oscuros, lugares de extraordinaria visibilidad donde fundirse con el firmamento.

  1. Uluru o Ayers Rock (Australia)

This three and a half kilometer long red rock in the middle of the desert is one of the most unmistakable and revered natural monuments in Australia. Located in the so-called outback, the vast and unknown heart of the country, this sacred monolith for the aborigines is far from any large city —Alice Springs, the closest, is about a five-hour drive away—, allowing you to contemplate a magnificent starry sky. Visiting Uluru at night, also known as Ayers Rock, is a unique experience: there are guided astronomy circuits that include a stargazing session. A track for lovers of astrophysical phenomena, in 2028 a solar eclipse can be seen from here, although not in its entirety, so it is recommended to travel a little further to the northeast of Australia where it will look complete.

2. Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

High in the mountains, near the Andean peaks of Bolivia, several prehistoric lakes form the Uyuni salt flat, the largest salt flats in the world, and, due to its spectacular nature, also one of the most popular and recurring images in the accounts. Instagram travelers. There are more and more opportunities to visit this salt flat at night and enjoy its starry sky and wide horizon. As it is a practically undeveloped area, the skies are really dark. And the plain of the salt mines makes the light in them travel far, so once you get to the point of observation, you have to give the eyes time to adjust.

There are operators that offer specialized stargazing itineraries, with circuits of between two and six hours that combine the contemplation of sunrise or sunset with a session of stargazing. You can discover star showers, planets, the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds, the two dwarf galaxies that until recently were thought to orbit around our own.

3. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (Brazil)

This natural space is a sea of sand on the northeast coast of Brazil and one of the most striking national parks in the country. Its more than 1,500 square kilometers of dunes are reminiscent of a huge wasteland, although they receive almost five times more rain than an ordinary desert.

Due to its annual dance of wind, water and sand, the park is not highly developed, and this has contributed to keeping its night sky intact and facilitating stargazing. The park is only two and a half degrees south of the equator, so the night sky view includes both the southern and northern hemisphere constellations.

4. Hortobágy National Park (Hungary)

Constituted as the first national park in the country, the Hortobágy reserves part of its surface since 2011 for the contemplation of the dark sky. Among the many measures taken, every effort has been made to update the lighting of nearby towns to lessen their impact. In addition, the park is home to an interesting fauna, such as wolves, wild horses and jackals, and is also a regular stop for migratory birds. At night, the park offers several astronomical activities, including walks, astronomy talks, and the Fecskeház “Youth Hostel and Field Study Center, a hostel and study center that includes an observatory and guided observation program on clear nights.

5. Zselic Starry Park (Hungary)

Two hours from Budapest, towards the Croatian border, the Zselic Star Park is one of the best in Eastern Europe for stargazing. It was one of the first dark sky areas on the continent (since 2009) and offers magnificent pristine night skies. In addition to an observatory with telescopes, it has a planetarium for all ages, an exhibition on astronomy and nature, a collection of meteorites and a five-story viewpoint to get even closer to the stars. On weekends there are night observation programs. Zselic also provides an opportunity to see the phenomenon of zodiacal light, a dim, elongated light believed to be the reflection of sunlight on ice and dust particles at the plane of the solar system, and which is almost always go in spring and summer.