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7 places for top-notch stargazing

By: Katherine Butler on April 1, 2012, 5:21 p.m.
Stargazing on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Photo: IHP/flickr

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea, Hawaii, is home to one of the most renowned observatories in the world. Perched atop the 13,796-foot volcano sit 13 telescopes from 11 different countries, all using the area’s spectacular night skies to view space. Mauna Kea is considered a prime place to see the stars because its dry atmosphere is one of the most cloud-free spots on Earth. It also attracts very little light pollution. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.)

And as the University of Hawaii points out, Mauna Kea contains a tropical inversion cloud layer below its summit that frees its upper atmosphere from the “the lower moist maritime air and ensures that the summit skies are pure, dry and free from atmospheric pollutants.” Stargazing tours are also available for non-professional astronomers.