Have you ever stepped out at night, taken a deep breath of the fresh air, looked up, and realised that the night sky is about as inviting as a sheet of black velvet? Which is to say, there isn’t much in the way of stars that can be gazed at. But what sort of sense does this make? You saw a documentary on Netflix just the other day, and the smart science folks claimed that there were billions of the things out there. Might as well just go back inside and play your favourite casino games, you may well take a starring role there instead!
Yes, it turns out that building civilisation has had some ill effects. There is the whole overpopulation, using up natural resources, and making fish very unhappy with pollution aspects, as well as the fact that we can no longer see the stars at night. The term used is light pollution, which is a very negative way of saying that there is too much ambient light, which blocks out any view of overhead stars. We do need light though, for the most part, or else we’d spend a great deal more time walking into things than is convenient.
But hold your horses. Via simple equation you can come to a few very interesting conclusions. Less ambient light means less light pollution, which grants better line of sight to the stars. Here are some places where this equation is put into practice.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Here is something for you to consider. If you walk out into a desert and keep walking, some strange things will soon become apparent. The drier your surroundings the less probability of humans living there. It has something to do with the fact that if humans don’t drink water for a while, they tend to die.
Hence, if you make your way into the Atacama Desert, you will soon be very alone, which means that ambient light is going to be next to nothing. It sounds lonely, sure, but take a look up when it’s night-time and you’ll be in for a serious treat. Stars, more stars, and a great deal more stars. Deserts are excellent for stargazing, and the Atacama Desert is a very good option.
Canary Islands, Spain
The ocean is a desert with its life underground. This is a song lyric, and a very profound one. Like deserts that feature sand, oceans follow similar rules, only putting salt in the water and drastically hindering consumption. The result? Fewer humans. The Canary Islands are small, surrounded by salt water, and hence come to the same equation as a desert.
Having come to the same conclusion, some smart folks with degrees erected an observatory on the Canary Islands, making it stargazing on a professional level. Head there, enter the observatory and see more stars than you ever have before. Unless you were in the above-mentioned desert, in which case it will be around the same amount.
Sutherland, South Africa
If you’re in Cape Town, have about four hours to spare and are charmed by the acronym SALT meaning Southern African Large Telescope, then do we have a treat for you. This area is not surrounded by sand or salt water, but is so far out into the African wilderness that it might as well be. As already said, a four hour drive up a long, winding road is a requirement, so you best be sure you’re into SALT before you set off on the road trip.
This is the largest single telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, so it’s probably worth the time and effort. Just don’t forget to take with emergency rations in case your car breaks down on that road trip. In which case you’ll be getting some stargazing done while you wait for emergency services!