So, your spacecraft has crash landed and you have no way to return. The only way you have any hope of getting off Earth and back to your home planet is to find the clearest route to the stars to send up a signal. You soon realise that the way humans light up their cities at night ruins any hope of seeing the constellations. Where do you go?
This Canary Island has some of the best and darkest skies and even has laws restricting aircraft so as to keep its fine night skies. The island sits at a high altitude and is close to the equator which provides perfect positioning for viewing the heavens. Avid stargazers can climb Mount Teide for spectacular views.
#2 Miami, Florida
This one might surprise as you wouldn’t think a city could offer great stargazing, other than the celebrity kind! The Oleta River State Park will offer an incredible glimpse of the galaxy and you can indulge in a moonlight boat tour, or visit the Southern Cross Astronomical Society in Palmetto Bay who gather every weekend and let the public use their telescopes. Travel to Miami and discover the unique display of stars in this corner of the planet.
The very best in natural light shows, Trysil in Norway is a top spot for seeing the Northern Lights in all their glory. Not only will you get first class outdoor pursuits thrown into the bargain but also witness first-hand the astonishing colors of the Aurora Borealis. Here you’ll find special cabins designed with stargazing in mind, giving you the best possible chance to see the galaxy stretching out into infinity.
#4 Death Valley, California
In the heart of the desert, you can guarantee a blacker than black night sky that springs to life, presenting you with the perfect picture of the Milky Way. Death Valley National Park can proudly boast being the largest dark sky reserve at more than 300 acres. If it’s direct access to the Universe you’re after, then you can’t argue with Death Valley’s credentials.
#5 Nova Scotia, Canada
In a huge expanse of unspoilt wilderness, you’ll find the Trout Point Lodge, the world’s first Starlight Hotel. The lodge has a purpose built stargazing platform and permanent astronomer on hand. The native people of this land had many tales to tell about the constellations, which had a big impact on their culture. When you come here, you’ll understand why!
#6 Mauna Kea, Hawaii
There will be no trouble ‘phoning home’ here as you climb the lofty heights of Mauna Kea. It’s a tough trek to reach the summit, but once there, you’ll discover the biggest optical telescope on Earth. The peak is not accessible after sunset but don’t despair, as the lower down visitor center is open until 10pm, with telescopes available and tons of information about the night skies.
#7 Namibrand Nature Reserve, Namibia
The very top award from the International Dark-Sky Association is Gold Tier status and guess what? This nature reserve was the first to win that coveted prize. In the middle of nowhere, deep in the heart of the Namib desert, stargazers come to camp out under the heavens. Enjoy the amazing wildlife by day and the blanket of stars overhead every night.
#8 Uluru, Australia
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is not only famed for the colossal Ayers Rock but also for the beauty of its night skies. The Milky Way bears all and other special sights can include the Southern Cross and possibly the aurora australis. It’s easy to feel at one with the Universe when you’re visiting down under.
#9 Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Gazing at the stars is one thing, but walking on them is something else altogether. A nighttime visit to the Uyuni Salt Flats - the world's largest salt flat - will give you a sense of this! When the flats become wet with rain water, they act as an immense natural mirror, reflecting every twinkling star to leave you truly star struck! This makes it the perfect place for counting stars (if you can keep count!) and catching some stunning meteor showers.
#10 Kerry, Ireland
The only Gold Tier Dark Sky reserve in the northern hemisphere and one of only three in the world – the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve can offer you amazing sights available to the naked eye. These include the Milky Way, clusters, nebulas and the Andromeda Galaxy too. The Emerald Isle by day but come nightfall, the sky comes alive with endless beauty.