It's hard to imagine a city without lighting - street lamps, car lights, billboards, and illuminated buildings. Few of us are aware, however, that excessive emission of artificial light has a number of negative consequences. The so-called light pollution is comparable in effect to the chemical pollution of soil, air or water. Here you will find a map showing light pollution on our planet.
For centuries, the starry sky was something important and essential to our ancestors, as it accompanied them throughout their lives. It also served as a source inspiration for many painters, poets and philosophers.
As the world continues to adjust to the age of technology and screens, fewer and fewer of us, (especially those living in a city), have opportunities to observe an unobstructed night sky with the clear shining glow of the Milky Way. Luckily, in tourism, a new trend has been emerging in recent years, highlighting trips to places where the sky remains dark. Protected areas of the dark sky have arisen and are constantly being created in many regions to stop light flooding at night. Below you will find a list of places where the stars shine the brightest all around the world.
1. Star Sky Park, the Bieszczady Mountains
In the captivating and wild Bieszczady Mountains of southern Poland, the dark sky can be seen perfectly. Through a joint effort of several Polish and Slovak municipalities, as well as various organizations, the second largest dark sky area in Europe was established. On clear nights, astronomical shows are organized in the park, which include a multimedia lecture on deckchairs and a laser show of constellations.
2. Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
This is one of the largest protected areas in the world. It was created as a combination of the Namib Desert National Park and the Mountain Zebra National Park. You can find dunes up to 30 miles long here, with no signs of civilization in sight.
3. Atacama Desert, Chile
This desert is located in the northern part of Chile, between the Coastal Cordillera and the Western Cordillera. Most of the desert consists of rocky terrain, salt lakes, sand, and felic lava that flows towards the Andes. No matter which part you're in, the views will be unforgettable.
4. Galloway International Dark Sky Park, UK
Galloway Park in Scotland was established in 2009 as the first dark sky park in Great Britain and the fourth in Europe. Currently, in addition to observing the sky and camping under the stars, it also offers visitors many forms of active leisure including hiking, cycling, and fishing.
No surprise here — in Iceland, likely every place (except the capital) is good for watching stars. And with a little luck, you might even catch the northern lights!
6. Star Park Zselic, Hungary
This park is located within the Zselic Protected Landscape Area, in the south of the country, and covers an area of 90.5 sq miles. It is one of the oldest parks of this type located in Europe.
7. Dark Sky Reserve Westhavelland, Germany
Conveniently located just 43 miles west of Berlin, this reserve is the first area in Germany that gained the status of a star park. In the spectacular night sky above the nature reserve, you can admire the Milky Way in all its glory.
8. Tuscany, Italy
Can you imagine a better place to admire the stars than where Galileo lived? The Tuscan sky — blue by day, full of stars by night, is surely an incredible place for viewing. Located a considerable distance from large urban agglomerations, they do not interfere with the visibility.
9. Teide volcano, Tenerife, Spain
Far from the lights of European metropolises resides the Teide Astronomical Observatory in Tenerife. It is worth visiting the observatory itself with a guide for a full experience. We also recommend combining an observation of the sunset and the starry sky in one trip.
10. Wadi Rum desert, Jordan
A night in the desert and Wadi Rum is an unearthly experience — especially since its landscape resembles that of Martian. It is worth taking advantage of an accommodation in one of the Bedouin camps to admire the sky full of stars.
11. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Equally unearthly is the observation of stars in the salt desert of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Instead of sand, you'll see salt stretching to the horizon creating fantastic formations. On-site you will find many travel agencies specialized in expeditions to this desert.
12. Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii, USA
It certainly doesn't take a lot to persuade anyone to visit Hawaii, but an extra argument can be to visit the Mauna Kea Astronomical Observatory on the summit of a volcano. In addition to admiring the starry sky with the naked eye, visitors can take a closer look at it with a telescope.
13. The Sahara Desert
Sahara is the largest desert in the world, covering countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. For a full-experience, try relaxing in one of the seaside resorts, and go for a trip to the desert with an accommodation.
14. Atlantic Cruise
The open ocean, due to the lack of light pollution, creates ideal conditions for observing stars. Some cruise companies combine them with lectures and presentations given by astrologers. Alternatively, you can go on a cruise along the Norwegian coast, beyond the polar circle, and catch a chance to see the northern lights!