Mind blown by the James Webb space telescope? Here are some of best places to stargaze

Nebula as seen by NASA's new James Webb space telescope.
Courtesy of NASA.

Our eyes are on the heavens. After launching in December 2021, NASA’s new James Webb space telescope has just delivered some of its first mind-blowing pictures of the universe. Who isn’t starstruck by blooming nebulas and whirling galaxies? 

But you don’t need a telescope to behold the Milky Way. From constellations and shooting stars to the Northern Lights, there’s much to admire with just the naked eye. And with borders reopening, many are now just a flight away.

Here are some of the best places in the world to stargaze. 

NOTE: At the time of writing, all of these destinations have been classified by Smartraveller as some of the safest to boldly go in 2022. Just don’t forget to pack your travel insurance.

1. Uluru, Australia

Uluru Australia at night.
Photo by Henrique Felix on Unsplash.

For those who enjoy feeling humbled by the epic, whether it’s from ancient landscapes to brilliantly clear heavens, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park boasts some of the best vistas in the world. Listed as a World-Heritage site, it is also sacred to the Traditional Owners, the Anangu people, and contains some of the world’s oldest living culture and wisdom all under a brilliant canopy of stars. With more than 101 culturally appropriate activities to experience, Uluru is a must-see for avid travellers and stargazers. 

Keen to go? Here’s our domestic travel insurance guide.

2. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea Observatory at night.

Wild and volcanic, Hawaii has become one of the world’s best stargazing destinations. Its crowning glory rests on the summit of Mauna Kea, where a row of the world’s largest research observatories watch the heavens (known as the ‘Astronomy Precinct’). Stroll the golden beaches by day, then behold the cosmos at night from a glorious 2,400m high view. 

Stargazers can look forward to brilliant Perseid and Orionid meteor showers between August - October 2022, which can be seen anywhere in the USA. (But how cool would they look from Hawaii!)

Keen to go? Here’s our USA travel insurance guide.

3. Tromsø, Norway

Northern lights over Lofoten Norway.

Dancing curtains of light? Yes please! Consistently ranked as one of the best places in Europe to witness the Northern Lights, Tromsø is a great destination for stargazers undaunted by a bit of snow. While sometimes an elusive natural phenomenon, aurora borealis can usually be witnessed during the peak period of December-March (though they can show as early as August). Just rug up and keep your eyes wide open for a magical winter experience. 

Keen to go? Here’s our Europe travel insurance guide.

4. Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Japan

A family climbs to stargaze in Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park.

Spread across the Yaeyama Islands and home to Japan’s only tropical rainforest, the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is a popular hotspot for stargazers. It’s the first International Dark Sky Park established in Japan, which means bare-minimum light pollution affords a rare glimpse of the heavens. Other nocturnal breathtaking sights include endangered species like the Iriomote cat and the windswept East China Sea. 

Keen to go? Here’s our Japan travel insurance guide.

5. Aoraki MacKenzie Reserve, New Zealand

A lakeside mountain view of Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve at night in New Zealand.

Night skies in the southern hemisphere hold some jaw-dropping sights, from Magellanic Clouds to the iconic Southern Cross constellation. But stargazers keen on the best might wanna check out the Aoraki MacKenzie Reserve for a spectacularly unique experience. Set in the shadow of New Zealand’s highest and tallest mountain, the reserve offers astronomy-themed tours as well as access to the world-famous Mt. John Observatory. Unmissable for those who enjoy standing close to the stars. 

Keen to go? Here’s our New Zealand travel insurance guide.

Booking an astronomy-themed trip? Compare international travel insurance policies below.

Compare international travel insurance policies - last updated 11 August 2022

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