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This Is the Stargazer’s Guide to Travel.

There are 1 Septillion Stars in the observable universe (that’s a 1 with 24 sets of 3 zeros afterwards) There are also 5 Sextillion grains of sands on this earth.  That means that we can observe more stars in the heavens than grains of sand.   Meaning that for every grain of sand, there are 200 stars in the sky, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the stars that are beyond the observable universe.   It is with this spirit in mind that many trekkers take the mantle of Stargazers and travel the world to see as many stars as possible to see with the naked eye or a hand telescope.   This Is the Stargazer’s Guide to Travel. Most of us live in areas where a “Clear sky” might yield a few hundred stars. But there are places where you can see infinitely many more stars. Atacama Desert – Located in Chile, the star gazer’s capital of the world, the Atacama Desert is 2500 meters above sea level.   Chilean government takes measures to protect its night sky form light pollution to preserve this stargazer paradise.   Scanning the heavens from here is the equivalent to stargazing half way up Mount Kilimanjaro.  The Hubble Telescope is accurate enough to discern a soccer field from 400,000 KM away.   The Alma Observatory, now being built in the Atacama Desert, is 10 times more powerful than the Hubble.  From the Atacama Desert, stargazers can view over 58 galaxies on the Formax Cluster and Tarantula Nebula along with a myriad of other stars. Abisko – Sweden.   This is the best place to view the Aurora Borealis.   Finnish legends held that Aurora Borealis was a fox on fire, scampering across the sky.   It takes 3 days for the cloud of gas, violently spewed from the sun, to reach our planned.   These gas clouds smash into the planet’s magnetic field and sends colors across the sky.   Abisko is 200 KM from the Arctic Circle.   Aurora Borealis is brighter the closer you get to the poles.   Abisko has hotels with clear sky to allow visitors to star gaze in safety. Pennsylvania – Cherry Spring State Park- This National Park is 100KM away from the nearest city. Light pollution is almost non-existent.  The Milky Way is so bright there that it can cast a shadow.  In 2008, Cherry Spring was named a gold level international sky park.  There are only seven such places in the world.  You can count 10,000 stars in the sky without a visual aid.  The Cassiopeia, Big Dipper and Sagittarius Galaxy are viewed right against a sea of stars. Mauna kea -  Hawaii. 4207 m above sea level Kauma Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii. It’s so high that it shows at the top.  Mauna Kea is also a religious site.  The bones of ancient Hawaiians rest before the soil and the volcano is the setting of local myths.   1 Trillion Stars of the Andromeda Galaxy can be seen in Mauna Kae during the fall and winter months.   There are 13 government telescopes from 11 different countries to investigate the night sky. Namibrand International Dark Sky Reserve – The Namibrand Reserve encompasses more than 170,000 hectares of land.  100 KM separate the reserve from the closest community.   Just like Cherry Spring, light pollution is extremely low here.   Stay at the Namb Desert Environment Educational Trust on the reserve and you can sleep in the open air, fall asleep under a twilight blanket of glorious clusters.

Packing tips for Stargazers –

If you’re planning to go stargazing or are a pro star gazer who has seen stars all over the world, this list will include everything you need to stargaze anywhere. Eyepieces and Telescope accessories -  Dew Shield, Barlow lenses, Moon filters, among others are needed to filter out light pollution and the biggest pollutant of them all, the Moon.   If you decide to stargaze on a full moon you will get an amazing view of the moon but a horrid view of everything else. Filters are needed to get rid of those rays. Extra Fluffy Beach towel – All those lenses are very frail and its recommended to place the telescopes on a beach towel in case something falls it will not break on the floor but fall on a cushion. Red Flashlight – Part of stargazing is allowing your eyes to get used to seeking small sources of light in the sky.  A Bright light flashlight will NOT help with that, so it’s best to use a red flashlight to help your eyes see in the darkness sooner. A trekking backpack. You must travel to far out and remote locations, Stargazers MUST be trekkers to get the best stars.  As such an Eagle Creek or High Sierra hiking Backpack will be more than adequate to carry all your stargazing gear AND survival gear. (Bear spray, water supplies, food, equipment…etc) A safe stargazer is a happy stargazer. We at The Travel Experts hope you will make the best of this world we live in by traveling everywhere. Don’t forget safety and feel free to contact us for advice on the best backpacks to go stargazing.

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