Many of the stars we see no longer exist.

When we look at the sky, we're seeing light that has reached us from millions of miles away, light stemming from stars that have likely imploded or winked out long before we ever wished upon them. Knowing this adds another dimension to the already mind-bending act of staring too long at the night sky. When we look at the stars, we see living proof of just how small we are against the infinite cosmos—and we're also seeing a time machine of the universe as it was long ago.

Unfortunately, light pollution has made it harder to view stars from the earth. Fortunately, there are now designated "Dark Sky Reserves" across the globe, places where artificial light is limited or nearly nonexistent.

Before you visit any of these places, be sure to schedule your trip so that it coincides with a new moon, so you can see the stars in all their untainted luminosity.

6. Aoraki Mackenzie, New Zealand

In 2012, this 4,200 square foot reserve became the only Dark Sky Reserve in the Southern Hemisphere. This area is almost completely free from light pollution, and it offers many unforgettable locations from which you can drink in the view. For example, you can view the stars from within a hot spring, or take a virtual tour within a planetarium that will teach you to identify some of the astronomical bodies that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, such as the Southern Cross constellation and a galaxy called the Magellanic Clouds.

Atacama Desert


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