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The World’s Top 10 Stargazing Spots
The Atacama Desert, Chile
The Landscape: One of the driest places on earth (it receives no more than a millimeter of rain each year), northern Chile’s stark Atacama Desert has optimal conditions for stargazing: high altitude, few clouds, and virtually no radio interference or light pollution.
The Skyscape: The near-perfect visibility here gives stargazers crystal-clear views of the legends of the Southern Hemisphere sky—including the Tarantula Nebula and the Fornax Cluster of galaxies.
How to Experience It: QuasarChile Expeditions (www.quasarchile.cl) runs myriad astronomy-themed tours through the Atacama. Guests stay in hotels or have the option of camping under a canopy of stars, and visit renowned astronomical observation sites like the Paranal Observatory—home to the Very Large Telescope (actually the biggest in the world). Visits are also made to the construction site of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which when completed in 2012 will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope.