Miles and miles of open country dominate Chile, making it one of the most popular destinations for stargazing. Low population density, high altitude, persistent dry climate and almost zero light pollution leave the night sky absolutely clear for romantic couples and astrologers to spend hours in stargazing.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Northern Chile – between the Andean Mountain range and the Pacific Ocean – houses the highest concentration of observatories and astronomical telescopes. If you are planning a relaxing stargazing under an endless vista of a luminous galaxy, the following eight destinations in Chile will offer you an exceptional experience:
San Pedro de Atacama:
The Atacama Desert located 2400 meters above the sea level is the driest desert on the planet. This simply makes it the most suitable destination for stargazing. You can join one of the numerous stargazing tours led by experienced guides who can help you in spotting the Incan constellations and galaxies. The storm cloud of Jupiter and other distant visible stars are an added delight to watch.
Driving in the middle of the desert at night makes for an incredible experience. You can visit this place all around the year since this place experiences 300 cloudless nights! However, avoid a full moon night for obvious reasons.
The world’s most advanced and powerful telescope is located just a few miles away from the town of San Pedro. If you desire to rub shoulders with some of the world’s renowned astrophysicists, head on to Paranal Observatory on a Saturday morning tour. Do not miss the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array), a billion-dollar assemblage of giant dish antennas dotting the desert surface, making it the world’s largest astronomical project.
Home to Cerro Tololo Observatory, the oldest astronomical center in the southern hemisphere, this valley can be easily accessed from Santiago. Gazing through optical telescopes in Mamalluca Observatory will take you to a different world constituting a number of star clusters, nebulas, and other galaxies.
Though most of the region lies undeveloped due to the harsh Andean terrain, the valley still offers a great panoramic view of the landscape. The penguin sanctuary and world-class wineries are added attractions.
Torres del Pine National Park:
The legendary Patagonian mountain glaciers form the top attraction of this region. Besides, several lodges offer excellent stargazing opportunities to the visitors. Through the glass ceiling of Patagonia Camp, you will have the luxury of direct under-the-sky stargazing without shivering in cold outdoors.
Illapel, Coquimbo region:
This undeveloped town, easily accessible from Santiago, doesn’t see much tourist footfalls. But if there, heading to Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas would give you an excellent stargazing experience. The people and the place are both quite charming. You can also enjoy a few volunteering activities in the valley at Save the Wild Chinchillas station, as the region desperately needs some developmental actions.
Known for rugged landscapes and extremely unpredictable harsh weather conditions, Patagonia may not be ideal only for stargazing. But if you are on the way to enjoy the amazing landscape, you can take a chance to gaze a starlit night in this region.
The sharp spiky mountainous terrain offers a beautiful silhouette against the pollution-free dark sky illuminated by the celestial bodies. To make the most of your Patagonia trip, head further south to Terra del Fuego and get a rare experience of the magical Aurora Australis, the southern counterpart of Northern Lights.
Torres del Paine, South Patagonia:
Patagonia offers another memorable stargazing opportunity in Torres del Paine. The glaciers stretching over the sharp Andean peaks paint a lovely landscape against the backdrop of a pollution-free inky-black sky.
In this part of the Southern Hemisphere, you get to discover some unknown galaxies. Watch out for the famous Southern Cross, Jewel Box, Magellanic Clouds, and Alpha Centauri among a host of constellations which you may miss in the Northern hemisphere.
Located just 11 miles from the South Peruvian border, this world famous surfing spot also gifts you a great stargazing opportunity. Camp on the beach and enjoy the night gazing at the mosaic of celestial bodies on the clear sky above. The site is adjacent to the Bolivian border and Lauca National Park.
The arid climate and the vast spread makes this desert ideal for stargazing and Antofagasta Desert is a giant in this respect. You will find a lot of good camping locations to get an unrestricted view of the stars. Located at the border of Atacama Desert quite near to Paranal Observatory, you can opt for a number of memorable stargazing ventures. Happy stargazing!