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See The Heavens At These Public Observatories

by Akhil Kalepu

Sep 6, 2014

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory © Astrofireball | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours


Griffith Park Observatory © Meinzahn | iStock

Griffith Park Observatory © Meinzahn | iStock

Griffith Observatory: Los Angles, Calif.

A Los Angeles landmark, the Griffith Observatory features two historic telescopes. The Ceolostat and Solar telescopes allow users to see the sun up close, making out sunspots and solar flares. The Zeiss Telescope is pointed at the various celestial bodies around our solar system. With more than 7,000,000 eyes looking through it, the Zeiss Telescope is the most popular observation device in the world.


Mount John University Observatory: Mount John, New Zealand

Located on the northern end of Mackenzie Basin on South Island, this observatory is a collaboration between the University of Canterbury and Japan’s Nagoya University. It is New Zealand’s premier astronomical research facility, featuring five large telescopes regularly in use. Visitors can stay at the nearby resort town, Lake Tekapo.


South African Astronomical Observatory: Cape Town & Sutherland, South Africa

Founded in 1820, the SAAO is one of the first scientific institutions in Africa. The primary telescopes are located in Sutherland and the main headquarters are in Cape Town. Both are open for tours, and the clear skies and low light pollution of the region make the SAAO a popular destination for stargazers.


Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory: Elqui Valley, Chile

The universe might be expanding, but this observatory will let you see the stars closer than ever. In fact, a team at the CTIO discovered much of the data supporting the idea of an expanding universe, earning them a Nobel Prize in 2011. Being such a serious research facility, public access is limited to Saturdays during the summer and winter, and reservations are required as only 40 visitors are allowed at a time.


Mauna Kea Observatory © Impalastock | iStock

Mauna Kea Observatory © Impalastock | iStock

Mauna Kea Observatories: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

This collection of astronomical facilities is part of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. The world’s largest telescope array has more light-gathering power than the Hubble Space Telescope. Situated on the big island, Mauna Kea’s dark skies, low humidity, high altitude above water vapor and equatorial location make it one of the best astronomical vacations you could take.



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