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The best places to go star gazing

1. Bryce Canyon: On nightly excursions led by the park’s highly trained Astronomy Rangers, visitors can check out up to 7,500 stars, see a horizon-to-horizon view of the Milky Way, and catch glimpses of both Venus and Jupiter. 2. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand New Zealand’s Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve was established in 2012 to recognize the incredible stargazing opportunities in the Mackenzie Basin on the South Island. At this one of just 16 Dark Sky Reserves in the world, visitors flock toward the reserve’s planetarium, telescope areas, and observatories, where guided tours are offered at both the Lake Tekapo Earth and Sky and Aoraki/Mount Cook visitor centers. 3. NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia The NamibRand Nature Reserve lies in what the IDA calls “one of the naturally darkest (yet accessible) places on Earth,” due to the fact that the closest inhabited communities are located at least 60 miles from its location. Visitors seeking the NamibRand Nature Reserve stargazing experience should check out the Wolwedans camps and lodges, where travelers can book a sustainably-focused overnight stay in the starry-skied desert 4. Atacama Desert and Elqui Valley, Chile Low rainfall, high altitude, and scant light pollution in Chile’s greater Atacama-Elqui region make it the “North Star” of astro-tourism—at least here on Earth. About five hours north of the Elqui Valley, the tourist-friendly town of San Pedro de Atacama offers a mix of budget hostels and luxury accommodations in the Atacama Desert, such as the sustainable Atacama Lodge, which provides guided stargazing experiences in the area. 5. Uluru, Australia The Sounds of Silence tour ($234 per adult for a four-hour tour, including dinner and drinks) at Ayers Rock Resort begins at sunset, when the iconic rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta glow fiery red. After a short walk through the dunes to a panoramic viewpoint, participants settle in at their tables to dine outdoors on Aussie fare. When night falls, one of the resort’s resident star talkers directs diners to sights in the southern sky and explains the stars’ significance in the culture of Uluru’s traditional landowners, the aboriginal Anangu people. The resort also offers a family-friendly Astro Tour ($54 per adult) which takes groups out for a one-hour stargazing excursion. Source: Afar.

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