Stargazing in crowded Europe

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Credits: Death To Stock

I am one of those people who can just lay down or stand outside for hours while watching the stars. Thanks to our lovely lightpollution it isn’t that easy anymore to see the milky way really bright. However, since I’m from a small village with barely any lights around me I’m quite lucky. Whenever I’m cycling in the dark I can see quite some parts of the milkyway, but still, whenever you have something or you’ve seen something you always want more.

And luckily, that is possible. Even in europe. Unreal. The continent with its massive crowds in the big cities like London and Rome, but at the same time its like a lot of people never step outside of the path to see or to search for different kind of places, places that are on the list below . This is a list of some of the best places in Europe for absolute stargazing nerds like I am. Do not, I repeat, do not forget to buy tickets asap and do not forget to invite me as well.

There will be a worldwide edition really soon, but for now, enjoy these photos and bookmark and share this page, it will come in handy, we both know it. Go on, dream away, just like I am right now.

First of we have Tenerife, one of the Canary islands or actually, it doesn’t really matter which island you choose. The islands are close to the mainland of Morocco have some of the clearest and not to forget darkest skies there are. When you’re on Tenerife you can visit the Teide National Park and the Observatory or (when you prefer food together with stars; seems like my dream) you can take a cable car to the Mount Teide for dinner.

Credits: Michael Bolognesi
Credits: Michael Bolognesi

Then we have Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve in Ireland. It is one of the (only) three  Gold Tier Reserves on the planet, which means the following; You’re going to be speachless and blown away by its magical sky. The milky way and the rest of the galaxy are incredibly clear and brighter than anywhere else, except for the other two places of course. Not to mention that this park is the only Gold Tier on the northern hemipshere. For more information, you can find their site here.

Next up its Galloway Forest Park in Scotland. Rumour has it that you can see more than 7000 stars and planets with the naked eye. Well, it’s about time to check these juicy gossips out. The park was one of the first Dark Sky Parks in the U.K. and for sure not its last.

Northumberland Dark Sky Park in the U.K. is a brand new Sky Park. And now the entire park, which is 370,658 acres, is protected as a Dark Sky Park. Also Exmoor National Park has some of the darkest skies (all year-round). It also became the first Dark Sky Park in Europe.

Wales delivers some of the worlds best spots for watching skies. You have plenty of choices, like Brecon Beacons National Park. Or choose the new Dark Sky Reserve; Snowdonia National Park. It won’t dissapoint you.

Of course I cannot forget Zselic in Hungary, but there is another one in Hungary which isn’t that well know by the wide public. Untill now obviously. I haven been told that Zselic doesn’t have that many tourists to cope with, yet. Eventhough this park is known by a wider audience you need to listen to yourself and bring this one a visit. In the evening. And when you’re going during spring of autumn you have a good shot to see the zodiacal light. The other park I was talking about is Hortobágy National Park. So can you imagine, that Zselic doesn’t have many visitors but that this park has even less? Right, me neither. But the less tourists the more I can enjoy the park its beauty.

Credits: György Soponyai
Credits: György Soponyai

France also has a really interesting Sky Reserve. However, Pic du Midi Dark Sky Reserve is a crowded one since the area where it’s located attracts more than 1,5 million tourists a year. But they do have a good point. You can ski and after that drive to the reserve where the stars are so visible at night that researchers can measure the magnetic fields that surround them.

The 20th Dark Sky Park in the world can you find in Slovakia. Poloniny Dark Sky Park is the place in Slovakia where the sky is at its darkest. An area without any light pollution doesn’t exsist anymore in this Eastern European country so that is why they decided to maintain the areas where the pollution is at the lowest point.

Mount Musala is the highest peak in the Balkans and there you can find yourself some true beauty while looking up. Musala in Bulgaria is one place which is a bit more challenging to visit. After the gondel drops you off its a four hour hike, but so worth it.

Kiruna in Sweden makes you think you have just entered the North Pole. Well, you’re not that far away from it since this small town lays so far North that it’s inside the Artic Circle. Not only are the skies clear, but you have a very good chance at seeing the auroras. And tell me now, doesn’t a clear sky combined with the aurora sounds overwhelming? Just like I thought. But be aware of the fact that the normally small town attracts quite a few of tourists to see the Northern light.

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Eventhough my beloved country (The Netherlands) is full with people, it’s not everywhere like that. You might wonder, well where then? Well, on one of the islands we have. That makes sense doesn’t it? It’s called De Boschplaat, which is a park close to on the island which is called Terschelling (yeah, try to pronounce these names, good luck). There are eight locations within the park that have been specially designated for nighttime visitors, so I think I’m going to bring this island a visit soon.

You can find the darkest skies of Germany in either Westhavelland Dark Sky Reserve or in Eifel National Park. The first one has one of the darkest skies on the earth since it was given its silver-tier sky park status in February 2015. Eifel is a whole different story. The park is situated ins one of the most densely populated parts of Western Europe. So it is impossible for this dark sky not to be surrounded by an ocean of light. Nearly twenty million people live within two hours of Eifel. That makes me curious of how the government and charities are going to preserve this fragile but wonderful park.

To be honest, not one of these places will dissapoint you if you adore watching the space around you. It makes you think you know, how big we think we are but actually aren’t. Besides being really thoughtful when you’re watching this it makes you wonder if there is anything which is more beautiful than this, but there is one thing I would like to remind you of. Do not forget to enjoy it.

 

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