Astrophotography Location Guide - 10 Great Places to Visit for Astrophotography

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Jason Cook loves astronomy, and his fascination with the subject has led him to create his website, Telescopic Watch. His site features telescope reviews and interesting reads all about astronomy.

If travelling for Astrophotography is part of your bucket list, then planning where to go is very crucial and important. Astrophotography doesn’t just concern the starry night sky itself; what outlines the night sky could help you get the best shot you’ve probably never even dreamt of.

According to Telescopic Watch, light pollution and territorial isolation are the main criteria when it comes to considering a good stargazing site. Now, it’s not really easy to find a great place that meets these two criteria.

Sites with low light pollution and great terrain are mostly for adventurous travellers. Most of these places really take quite an effort to reach but definitely worth it after seeing their beauty personally or in the photos you take.

Here are well-known sites and places you may want to go to for your astrophotography adventures. Have fun getting to know where in the world you’d like to go to next!

1.   Lapland, Scandinavia

 Scandinavia is the perfect location if you want to combine your stargazing with some Aurora Borealis hunting.

Scandinavia is the perfect location if you want to combine your stargazing with some Aurora Borealis hunting.

Aside from stars, a popular spectacle like the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is worth travelling for. You can easily spot this anywhere in Sweden, Norway, and Russia but Lapland is the best place to be for you to appreciate it the most.

Lapland’s mountains will help your photos have more stories to tell. Aside from its mountains, Lapland also has great finger-like lakes that lead to the Gulf of Bothnia. Those could definitely look good with the starry night sky and the Northern Lights. What a combo!

2.   Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Hawaii is considered to be one of the places with the best telescopes in the world.

Mauna Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii and is the best spot where you can take your photos and be close to the sky. Being on its top will make you see Hawaii’s beauty with its mountain peaks and old volcanoes. Your photos could definitely show how amazing and breathtaking it is to be pretty much on the same level as the clouds.

Another way of taking your photos in Hawaii would be visiting the observatories of Mauna Kea. There are 12 observatories that you can visit.

These places showcase free evening telescope demonstrations from the University of Hawaii. The architecture of these observatories could also be a great addition to your photos’ subject.

3.   Brecon Beacons, Wales

Wales is known for having the darkest skies in Europe. When the sky is clear, the Milky Way, bright nebulae, constellations, and sometimes meteor showers are easy to see.

In 2012, the Brecon Beacon Park became the fifth accredited place by the International Dark Sky Association for stargazing. This place tries very hard to keep its light pollution low to preserve the beauty its night sky offers.

Held in a small village in this area twice a year is the AstroCamp. It’s when stargazers attend a friendly gathering and stargaze using large telescopes made available to them. Aside from meeting fellow stargazing enthusiasts, AstroCamp also offers workshops and competitions about stargazing. It’s one of the best places to test those lens that you chose for your astrophotography endeavours.

4.   Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

The Canary Islands is a great place for stargazing because of its clear and gleaming night skies. There are multiple places you can visit in this area for stargazing and Fuerteventura is an island that seems to be made just for stargazing.

A group called Stars by Night offers a variety of stargazing-related activities that you can enjoy. Some of the activities they have are short courses for stargazing and group stargazing sessions. This will make your astrophotography travel even more fun!

5.   Arches National Park, Utah

 The beautiful natural arches in Arches National Park make for perfect foreground interest to enhance your astrophotography.

The beautiful natural arches in Arches National Park make for perfect foreground interest to enhance your astrophotography.

Utah has a couple of places that you can visit for stargazing and taking astrophotos.  Some places you could visit are Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Arches National Park.

You can see the stars when you’re anywhere in this park but it has areas where it’s best to stargaze.

The Arches National Park is known for its landscapes and rock formation. This park’s name is not for nothing. Here you can find about 2,000 arches that you can use or include in your photos.

6.   Haute-Pyrénées, France

This place showcases one of its tourist spots; the mountain of Pic du Midi. It measures almost 10,000 feet from the ground and is also famous for its observatory.

In the Pic du Midi, the observatory is a big dome where you can use a 400mm Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. This place has available getaway packages that you can avail. You can start with a dinner followed by a guided stargazing activity and a night’s stay in its quarters that are usually used by astronomers.

7.   Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

The Galloway Forest Park became one of the first Dark Sky Parks in 2009. This was also where the first European Dark Sky Conference was held in 2017.

On its sky is where you can see about 7,000 stars and the Milky Way’s outline. This is a great place to look at the sky because this forest park is not affected by heavy light pollution. As you go around the place, you’ll see signs that could help you know what constellation is very visible in that area.

8.   Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

 Death Valley’s dramatic expanse of desert makes for some interesting subject matter beneath one of the United States’ darkest night skies.

Death Valley’s dramatic expanse of desert makes for some interesting subject matter beneath one of the United States’ darkest night skies.

The Death Valley situated in the borders of California and Nevada is the largest Dark Sky National Park in the US. This place has one of the darkest skies in the country. This park really makes the effort to reduce light pollution and energy consumption.

A good time to visit this place is during spring and winter. Various astronomy groups and organizations hold stargazing activities and short courses can surely make your stay in this area worthwhile.

9.   Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Michigan

This park is approximately 500 acres of forest and woods. It became one of the Dark Sky Parks in the world in the year 2011. This is a good place to spot the Orion during spring and the Milky Way every summer.

Throughout the year, you may also be able to witness wondrous meteor showers.

Although the Northern Lights is a known phenomenon in some countries of Europe, there are also times when you can see how stellar it is on the skies of US, particularly in Headlands. Just make sure that you keep track of Aurora predictions if you plan on seeing it here.

10.  Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand

 New Zealand offers keen eyed astrophotographers the chance to spot some constellations only visible in the southern hemisphere.

New Zealand offers keen eyed astrophotographers the chance to spot some constellations only visible in the southern hemisphere.

This is the place to be if you want to see constellations that are only visible in the southern hemisphere. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve came to be in the year 2012.

With its great effort to lessen light pollution, this reserve has the clearest sky that you probably won’t see anywhere else. In this reserve is New Zealand’s premier astronomical research center called the Mount John Observatory.