Northern Lights, Satellites and Stargazing

When I was little I used to hang out with my dad on summer nights. He would go out for his daily cigarette and I would follow him outside to bug him. On clear nights, he would point out different constellations to me and teach me how to find the north star. He even pointed out how to spot satellites, meteors, and the exact positions of some planets. I grew up constantly staring at the sky whenever I could because I learned quickly that if you wait long enough, something exciting always happens. With that anecdote, I bring to you the World’s Best Stargazing Destinations written by Bob Riel. Enjoy the excerpts below!


Chile’s Atacama Desert mixes high altitude, dry air, and an absence of light pollution — a perfect recipe for some of the world’s best stargazing. The highest desert on Earth is not necessarily an easy place to get to, but if you go you’ll be rewarded with some of the clearest skies on the planet. The Observatorio Cerro Mamalluca offers public tours. Or, for a more personal experience, book a room at the Hotel Elqui Domos, where seven geodesic domes feature upstairs bedrooms with detachable roofs so guests can enjoy a stunning view of the heavens from the comfort of their bed.”

Southwestern United States

The Sonoran Desert in the American Southwest has particularly clear skies, and Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson houses the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes and offers nightly viewing opportunities. Other sites in the region that are open to the public include Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona; and McDonald Observatory near El Paso, Texas. Or, in New Mexico, you can visit New Mexico Skies, rent a cabin in the Sacramento Mountains, and discover the stars from their mini-observatories.”


If you’re looking for a stargazing destination in Europe, Scotland has some of the darkest skies on the continent. The northern lights are even visible occasionally, a phenomenon that usually requires a trip closer to the Arctic Circle. An organization called Dark Sky Scotland now promotes dark sky parks in the Scottish Highlands. For organized viewing, you can check out the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.”