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Ultimate Guide

Look Up: 10 Incredible Star Gazing Spots

Check out Club Traveler's guide to 10 amazing stargazing spots.

1. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Let your imagination swim wild in an ocean of stars off the coast of Morocco on the Canary Islands. The tourist-friendly isle of Tenerife is home to the famed Teide Observatory, which has hosted the likes of Stephen Hawking and Neil Armstrong.

2. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Beyond the island of Hawaii’s idyllic beaches and luxury resorts you’ll find a lofty window to the universe atop the dormant Mauna Kea volcano—a perch for powerful research telescopes and a public observation station high above the clouds.

3. Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile’s high desert, nestled along the Andes Mountains, touts what Astronomy magazine deems “the greatest observing conditions on planet Earth.” See the Magellanic Clouds (dwarf galaxies) from the small town of San Pedro de Atacama, the region’s hub for globetrotting stargazers.

4. Death Valley National Park, California

Exceptionally dark, typically cloud-free desert skies dazzle stargazers at the lowest, driest, hottest spot in North America, a geologic wonderland only a two-hour drive from the bright lights of Las Vegas.

5. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand

Ringed by snow-capped peaks on New Zealand’s dramatic South Island, the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve is a prime location for marveling at the southern lights (aurora australis) between March and September.

6. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

One of the United Kingdom’s darkest locales offers mountain- and woodland-framed views of the twinkling heavens. Peek through telescopes at the hilltop Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.

7. Alqueva, Portugal

Astrotourism is booming in the country’s rural Alentejo region, which delights amateur astronomers with dark, dependably clear skies above Lake Alqueva. Take a night- canoeing excursion on the lake or saddle up for a moonlight horseback ride.

8. Big Bend National Park, Texas

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas—or, in the case of rugged, remote Big Bend, in southwest Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The park is so dark, you’ll have no trouble finding the Andromeda galaxy—2.5 million light-years from Earth— with the naked eye.

9. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida

Declared an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, these central Florida grasslands boast an inky black sky virtually free of light pollution. Keep an eye peeled for the flash of rocket launches from nearby Cape Canaveral.

10. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

The Alaskan wild treats you to eye candy with the northern lights (aurora borealis)—curtains

of colorful light waving across the night sky. Peak activity at the sky’s darkest lasts from early September till about April 20.

Solar Eclipse: 2017

The last time a total solar eclipse occurred over the continental United States, the Bee Gees topped the charts and gas cost less than $1 a gallon. Thirty-eight years later, on August 21, 2017, the moon will slide in front of the sun and a narrow path of total eclipse will cross 12 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. The rare celestial spectacle has everyone from astronomy geeks to great-grandmothers making travel plans to witness the brilliant corona.

The largest city in the path of totality (the moon completely covering the sun) is Nashville, Tennessee; the longest period of totality (2 minutes, 42 seconds) will occur near Carbondale, Illinois.

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