Milky Way, Chile

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...

The Atacama Desert has everything for the amateur and professional stargazer alike - this really is one of the best places for stargazing.

Milky Way, Chile

© Shutterstock

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is considered one of the best places on earth for stargazing! It’s an amateur and professional astronomer’s dream. This desert has some of the clearest skies, it’s bone dry and unpolluted. No wonder some of the largest and most advanced observatories are found here.

High, dry and with no light pollution, you will find yourself in a stargazing hotspot in good company. Lose yourself in space and time as you gaze up at the vast and forever brilliant starry skies that shimmer over the Atacama Desert.

If you’re a complete novice and don’t know your Southern Cross from Orion, fear not - most, if not all of the lodges in the area offer star watching sessions hosted by knowledgeable astronomer-guides. Some tours include a visit to an observatory where you can learn how to ‘read the sky’ through a series of powerful telescopes. You’ll never look at the night sky in the same way again, there’s a whole galaxy and more out there waiting to be discovered. Throughout the tour you will gather some great little gems of information that will stick with you forever.

  • Witness a sky full of stars
  • Try your hand at photographing the night sky
  • Visit a top-notch observatory
  • Peer into outer space through powerful telescopes
  • Marvel at the Milky Way
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The Milky Way

Made up of over 200 billion stars, the Milky Way is easily visible with the naked eye in the Atacama Desert.

Atacama night sky, Chile © PCook

Stargazing at your hotel

You are of course welcome to sit in the grounds of your lodge and watch the night sky by yourself without having to venture far. Your guides will give you tips on where to find a nice quiet, dark spot where you can set up your tripod and, with a little patience, get some great shots of the spectacular night sky. There are some handy astronomy apps you can download on your phone too which will help you identify the different planets and constellations.

Best time to go

Certainly a time NOT to go would be during a full moon. Whilst the full moon shining down on a desert landscape will make for excellent images, it’s not great for stargazing as it washes out the night sky.  Do check the lunar calendar to see if there are any eclipses that you would like to observe.