Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip

The Journey to See the Stars: Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip

Have you ever dreamed of gazing up at a clear, dark sky littered with thousands of twinkling stars? Do you stay up late to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way stretching across the heavens? Are you fascinated by nebulas, galaxies, planets, and constellations you can only see with high-powered telescopes?

If so, it may be time to book an astroclick travel adventure! Astroclick travel involves journeying to ideal stargazing locations around the world and participating in astronomy tours and experiences. Unlike regular vacations, astroclick travel trips are specifically designed for Astro-enthusiasts who want to deeply immerse themselves in the wonders of the universe.

In this blog, we’ll walk through everything you need to plan an amazing astroclick vacation, from choosing the perfect destination to capturing breathtaking astrophotography. We’ll also provide tips to help make sure your astroclick travel trip goes off without a hitch. And who knows, you may even make a new extraterrestrial friend! 👽




Choosing Your Destination

The first step in planning an astroclick vacation is picking the right location. The perfect spot will have pristine dark skies, a climate that suits your ideal activities, and plenty of astronomical attractions and events. Here are some of the top places worldwide for astroclick travelers:


Chile is considered one of the premier global destinations for astroclick travel. It contains over 70% of the world’s astronomy infrastructure, including many mountaintop observatories like the Paranal Observatory and Atacama Large Millimeter Array. Chile’s southern hemisphere locale provides optimal views of the center of the Milky Way. The high-altitude Atacama Desert also offers clear, cloudless skies nearly 360 days a year.


Hawaii’s location near the equator gives it perfect viewing of both northern and southern night skies. The high altitudes of Hawaii’s Big Island provide excellent atmospheric conditions. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a certified Dark Sky Sanctuary with daily stargazing programs. Hawaii in general hosts many astroclick tours, events like the Ka’ū Star Gazing Festival, and activities like sunrise viewing of Mauna Kea.


Iceland’s remote position in the cool North Atlantic means very little light pollution and regular displays of the aurora borealis. The many volcanic craters and deserts offer great night sky viewing spots. Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, is home to the Aurora Reykjavík observatory which offers aurora exhibition and astroimaging tours.

Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip




Additional Top Spots

Some other prime astroclick destinations include New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and the Canary Islands. Depending on your interests, research astronomical phenomena like annual meteor showers, eclipses, or comet sightings and determine ideal locations around their timing.

While deciding where to go, remember to take into account:

  • Light pollution – Areas with low artificial lighting allow clearer views. Use dark site finder maps to check for remote locations.
  • Weather – Look for destinations with historically favorable conditions during your trip timeframe. Some locations are better in winter vs summer.
  • Altitude – Higher elevations equal less atmospheric disturbance and obstruction.
  • Accessibility – Ensure your destination has suitable roads, accommodations, and amenities within a reasonable distance.
  • Astronomical attractions – Proximity to observatories, planetariums, science centers with astronomy programs, and expert guides.

With some strategic planning, you can pick the perfect spot for your astroclick adventure!



Making a Detailed Itinerary

After deciding on a location, it’s time to start organizing the specifics! Creating an itinerary is crucial for astroclick travel to maximize your experience and make sure you catch astronomical events at just the right time. Here are some tips for crafting your schedule:

  • Research sunrise/sunset times so you know when nights will be darkest.
  • Look up schedules for observatories, planetariums, and stargazing programs at parks so you can plan to attend.
  • Check calendars for astronomy festivals, meteor shower peak dates, eclipse times, or other celestial events and arrange your trip accordingly.
  • Allow ample time for potential weather delays when scheduling observing activities. Have some flexible backup indoor options planned just in case.
  • Account for travel time between locations if your trip involves multiple sites. Don’t pack the schedule too tightly.
  • Balance planned astronomy outings with free time to allow for relaxation, exploration, and serendipitous discoveries.

Here is a sample basic itinerary for a 5-day astroclick travel trip to Chile:

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago by morning, and transfer to hotel. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral telescope and stargazing rooftop deck at night.

Day 2: Pick up a rental car, and drive to Paranal Observatory. Tour the facility and attend the evening observation program. Overnight near Paranal.

Day 3: Drive to Elqui Valley. After settling into the hotel, have a look around. Do some astrophotography at night.

Day 4: Tour Mamalluca Observatory and visit Cochiguaz Valley for daytime hiking. Do a night hike at Valle de Elqui with stargazing.

Day 5: Relax at the hotel in the morning. Drive back to Santiago in the afternoon and depart home.

Having a general daily agenda like this allows you to maximize your time on an astroclick travel trip without being too rigid. Just be sure to remain flexible for any place you visit! The real magic comes from going with the celestial flow.

Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip




Packing Tips

Any astroclick traveler knows that the right gear makes all the difference in a successful star-filled getaway. Don’t forget to bring these necessary items:

  • Telescope – Bring your own or rent on location. Consider size and portability.
  • Binoculars – Great for wider views and spotting comets, meteors, and galaxies.
  • Cameras, lenses, filters – Ideal for long exposure astrophotography. Bring extra batteries and memory cards!
  • Star trackers, and mounts – For tracking sky objects and avoiding star trails during long exposures.
  • Tripods – Sturdy tripods to stabilize your long telephoto lenses.
  • Headlamps, and flashlights – Crucial for late-night equipment adjustments and reading star charts. For night vision preservation, use red light.
  • Warm clothing, and hats – Even tropical locales can get chilly after sunset. Dress in layers.
  • Snacks, water – Nighttime observing means packing provisions to maintain energy and hydration.
  • Laptop, planisphere, maps – For planning sessions under the stars.
  • Mobile apps – Like SkyView, Star Walk 2, and Night Shift, to aid night sky navigation.
  • Batteries, memory cards, cables – It’s heartbreaking to have a dead battery ruin a perfect astrophoto op. Bring spares!

Don’t overpack the first time out. Once you get a feel for astroclick travel you can tweak and add gear for future trips.

Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip





Capturing the Perfect Astrophoto

For many astroclickers, a highlight of any star-focused getaway is capturing amazing photos to share. Here are some handy astrophotography tips:

  • Scout potential shooting locations in advance at golden hour to plan for optimal nighttime positioning.
  • Use apps to determine when and where the Milky Way will align over landmarks.
  • Calculate exposure times using the 500 Rule or Rule of 600 to reduce star trails based on your camera and lens specs.
  • Shoot in RAW format for higher quality images than JPEG.
  • Take calibration frames like darks, bias, and flat frames to reduce noise during stacking.
  • Invest in equatorial mounts and sky trackers for clear long exposure tracking.
  • Use editing software like Photoshop, Lightroom, or DeepSkyStacker to stack and adjust exposures to bring out details.
  • Experiment with different color balances, saturation levels, and filters like Light Pollution Reduction for more vibrant images.

Don’t stress about getting perfect pictures. Part of the fun of astroclick travel is learning as you go! Plus you can always make improvements on the next trip.

Planning Your Astroclick Travel Trip




Astronomical Tours and Guides

For travelers who want to leave the logistics to experts, joining an astronomical tour group can be ideal. Many astroclick travel destinations offer:

Observatory Tours – Get exclusive behind-the-scenes access to facilities like the Keck Observatory in Hawaii or ALMA in Chile with specialty guiding.

Dark Sky Parks – Stay in designated parks like Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand with nightly stargazing programs.

Astronomer-Led Excursions – Have an expert astronomer guide your small group for personalized experiences tailored to your interests.

Night Sky Viewing Programs – Take a van tour to ideal stargazing locations with telescopes supplied and experts on hand to point out celestial sights and answer questions.

Astrofestivals – Attend multi-day astronomy celebrations with a packed schedule of speakers, and activities.


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