Best time to travel to Chile

Stargazing in Chile

The driest place on the Earth appears to be the best gateway to observe the cosmos and look for life on Mars

Best time: September–March

Stargazing
Stargazing
Stargazing

The Atacama Desert located in the north of the country is a perfect cosmos observatory owing to a couple of optimal natural conditions: namely few clouds, small population and hence no light pollution, dry air and high altitudes—all these make for excellent stargazing opportunities.

The area was chosen by NASA for testing their Martian Rovers. Moreover, the Paranal Observatory boasts the world's biggest telescope known as the Bery Large Telescope, and the Atacama Large Millimetre Array is home to the most powerful radio telescope found in the world. The desert landscapes were repeatedly screened in a range of science fiction films, and the scenery is particularly stunning spotlit by the starry light and the moon.

As the best time to visit the Atacama Desert is from September to March, stargazing tours are organised on a regular basis. There are hotels available to stay overnight, but for a more incredible experience, ​there is the option to try night camping in the Moon Valley.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Atacama Desert for stargazing?

To enjoy stargazing at its finest, you should visit the Atacama Desert between September and March when the sky is generally cloudless. You could also help yourself get acclimated to the environment and heights by staying at a high-altitude location for a few nights, resulting in an even better experience. This desert's striking skies provide a spectacular backdrop for astrotourism. Show more

Where is the world's biggest telescope located in Chile?

In Chile's Atacama Desert is the Paranal Observatory, which houses the 'Very Large Telescope,' the world's largest telescope. Four telescopes, which can be used together, produce clearer and sharper images of the universe. The area devoted to the scientific observatory includes four other telescopes worth exploring. Guided tours are available and offer further insight into this breathtaking astronomical spectacle. Show more

What natural conditions make the Atacama Desert perfect for stargazing?

The Atacama Desert provides the perfect environment for stargazing for several reasons, such as low humidity, low light pollution, small population, and high altitudes. Cloud cover is infrequent, making the sky largely cloudless and ideal for stargazing. The dry atmosphere's refractive index, combined with the elevated altitudes, ensures that astronomers get high-quality and breathtaking views of the cosmos. Show more

What is the name of the most powerful radio telescope located in the Atacama Desert?

The largest and most potent radio telescope globally is the Atacama Large Millimetre Array, located in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The telescope has 66 retractable cylinders that detect millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths needed to investigate the dust and gases in galaxies to help solve the universe's mysteries. Show more

Are there any opportunities for camping overnight while stargazing in the Atacama Desert?

You can indeed select from a variety of hotels floating around in the Atacama Desert, but camping overnight in the Moon Valley would provide a breathtaking experience. The lack of light pollution in the area makes it an ideal spot for viewing constellations and planets. Overnight camping tours are also available, allowing you to explore the stunning skies and celestial objects in the equipped tents and sleeping bags, creating a unique and memorable chic experience. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin