Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...
Chile's Atacama Desert has everything for the amateur and professional stargazer alike. This really is one of the best places for stargazing.
The Milky Way
Made up of over 200 billion stars, the Milky Way is easily visible with the naked eye in the Atacama Desert.
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.
What else is on offer in the Atacama Desert?
Other sites to visit in the Atacama Desert include Moon Valley, the Tatio Geysers, vast salt flats, Laguna Chaxa, Yerbas Buenas petroglyphs, Rainbow Valley, the altiplano lakes. In San Pedro, pop into the Meteorite Museum where you get up close to displays of meteorites, all of which were found in the Atacama Desert. You can even touch some of the rocks, which are said to be over 4 billion years old. Take to four legs and explore on horseback or if you’re more comfortable on two wheels, then mountain bike tours in the area can also be arranged.
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. Also, see our general guide to when to go to Chile.