Where to find the best night sky views is a question I have been asked a few times. It’s really quite simple, somewhere rural where there is little light pollution.
In this article I will give you a little more than that to go on, there will be explanations (not too long don’t worry), tips (I think they’re useful), an exam (joking) and finally; some great places in the world to find the best night sky views!
“Well, that sucks!”
This is a sentence I have spoken throughout the years when it comes to viewing the night sky. Many times there have been comet events, supermoons or I just want to see some damn stars and I can’t.
Light pollution. Electricity and a growing population has meant there is a serious case of light pollution affecting a lot of areas around the world, including mine!
Light can’t pollute, what are you on about?
Yes, I’m afraid it can my dear reader. Light pollution is defined as being 'an excessive and unneeded use of artificial light'. The biggest sources of light pollution can be things such as billboard advertising, sport arena floodlights and streetlights with glare.
It is a massive problem for stargazers and amateur astronomers who often have to travel to find spots with limited light pollution. As an example, the picture below shows the different night skies between a rural town and a city:
The top one is in a rural spot, the bottom one from a light polluted city. See the difference? Amazing isn't it (or depressing, one of the two).
Pro Tips: What you need when finding the best night sky views
Before going on any adventures to find the best night sky views, take these tips into consideration:
- Even in the summer, leave a blanket in the car just in case.
- During the new moon, check your calendars.
- Don’t go in the pouring rain, it’s just miserable and useless.
- Plan wisely with kids; take snacks, extra blankets and try not to take them on a five mile hike if they can’t handle it.
Where in the world can you find the best night sky views? We would all love to be able to stroll outside of our back door in dressing gowns and gaze at the Milky Way, but that isn’t going to happen.
Well... for some lucky people it might. The easiest option is finding a rural country spot, a field; somewhere with no lights. If you wish to go further afield, these are my picks for the best places in the world!
The Best Night Sky Views
Wales has always held a special place in my heart and always will, a big reason for this being the wonderful night skies it can grant you. There is very little light pollution in some of the more rural areas, Swansea and Cardiff are still main cities with lots of lights!
There is of course the Snowdonia region which has miles of land, hills and open countryside to get some star gazing in. My personal favorite spot has to be the mountain of Cader Idris, a formidable foe to climb, but the surrounding areas provide some of the best night sky views I’ve ever seen.
Legend has it, anyone who spends the night up the mountain comes down either a poet or mad!
2. Atacama Desert, Chile
A fair distance away from Wales, Chile’s Atacama Desert provides an amazingly clear and wonderful view of the stars and Milky Way. This particular area is known for being a dry and arid land, high up enough and clear on many nights means this is the perfect place to get some truly breathtaking views.
3. Zion National Park, US
Located in Southern Utah, Zion National Park is famed for having spectacular views for hikers and campers in the day. It is only outdone by it's simply outstanding night sky views. At nearly 230 square miles, Zion is one of the best National Parks (in my opinion) in the United States, along with Yosemite and Denali in Alaska.
4. Blue Ridge Observatory, US
This time, we visit North Carolina where the Blue Ridge Observatory Park is surrounded by rugged mountains. The sheer beauty of the night sky views here are just incredible and honestly made me want to spend money on an awesome camera. Telescopes are hardly needed, the stars shine so brightly you’ll feel as if you can see the whole universe above you.
5. Westhavelland, Germany
This dark sky reserve is located only two hours away from Berlin. The low light pollution and incredibly dark summer sky allows glimpses of zodiacal light. This is sunlight scattered by dust in space, on a clear night sky it can look beautiful.
Westhavelland was recently named a dark sky reserve and was applauded on its efforts to protect the night skies. It is now considered to be the area with the darkest skies in all of Germany.
So Where Can You Find The Best Night Sky Views?
Overall you can easily grab some great views at night even if you live inner city. It might take a little bit of travel, but no matter where you are in the world you can usually find a low light pollution spot near you.
Even in New York City and London, travel an hour away and you can find some countryside with clear skies.
The five places I have mentioned here are the spots in the world I love and consider to have the best night sky views.
Drop me a comment and let me know where you have been?