Today, more than 80 percent of the world and more than 99 percent of the USA spend their nights under light-polluted skies. The International Dark Sky Association strives to protect our clear night skies for future generations and to revive the magic of starry nights by designating Dark Sky Reserves, Protected Areas and Parks around the world with the status of “Dark Sky Reserve”, dedicated to the preservation of the dark sky. But whether “Dark Sky” or not, astrotourism is on the rise, and these are the best places on the planet, at least – to witness the dazzling spectacle of glowing balls of gas that we call stars.
1. hovenweep national monument
Cajon Mesa, United States
Located between Colorado and Utah, this dark sky park is one of many places where you can enjoy an amazingly dark sky in this area. It is also unique in that it is home to six prehistoric villages dating from 1200 to 1300 AD; they were built by Puebloans and provide a beautiful backdrop for stargazing.
Start your day with our 5 top articles
In the magazine
Why Muslim voters love Bernie Sanders
Hitlerpapst” Archive can shed more light on the role of the Vatican in World War II
One year after the killings in the Christchurch Mosque
Is Bernie Sanders right about Medicare for All?
Old rock legend Stephen Malkmus about his new album and the return of the patch
2. mata ki te rangi
Pitcairn Islands, British Overseas Territory
This extremely remote island near French Polynesia can only be reached by boat, but once there, the dark sky, beaches and seclusion make “Eyes to the Sky” a highly unique sanctuary in the dark sky. As one of the latest additions to the list, it has not yet been flooded with astrotourists.
3. gabriela mistral
Elqui Valley, Chile
This sanctuary with dark skies in the north of Chile is working on long-term conservation to both limit light pollution and protect fragile ecosystems. It is an optimal place for stargazing, but also a prime location for observing lunar eclipses that pass through Chile almost every year. Visitors can also visit the vineyards that grow in the area.
Pack up and have a hot drink before you wait for the stars to appear in the observatory. This dark skies reservation outside of Quebec City offers telescopes and educational shows, and the outdoor lighting serves as a beacon in the dark for walkers. For those who want to brave the cold, the area is also known for snowshoeing, even at night.
5th Snowdonia National Park
Wales, United Kingdom
With over 823 square miles, Snowdonia is home to much more than just dark skies. Mountains, lakes, waterfalls and even the beach make this park an outdoor activity paradise. Try one of these two lakes to watch the stars – Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn y Dywarchen – but during the day leave time to explore the park’s castles, abbeys and Roman archaeological ruins.
6th Alpes Azur Mercantour
This reserve with dark skies is located in a unique place where the Alps meet the Mediterranean. For this reason the area is celebrated for its biodiversity in both flora and fauna, including the rare Siberian grouse. Also in the National Park there are thousands of famous engravings from the Bronze Age. On the border with Italy, visitors can choose any country as their point of departure.
7th Nature Reserve NamibRand
In this “gold animal” gold reserve – the highest designation – you can comfortably stare up at the sky from the luxury accommodations available on site while enjoying the four different natural habitats and wildlife of this private reserve.
8. ramon crater
Negev desert, Israel
How about looking at distant planets while you are on one? This naturally formed erosion crater and the national park surrounding it have a Mars-like terrain that is also home to rare desert animals. Visitors to the campsite can watch stars outdoors or in Bedouin tents.
9th Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park
Wangpi River Valley, South Korea
Originally founded to protect the native firefly populations from light, it has developed into a first-class stargazing site. Less than 5 hours outside of Seoul, the area is accessible without being crowded. The “Si