What is Astrotourism?
The definition of astrotourism, according to dictionary.com is, paying to travel into space as a form of recreation. This isn’t what I mean when I say astrotourism.
Instead, astrotourism is travelling to a place with the intent to stargaze – with or without camera in hand.
While people have been stargazing for a really long time, the difference here is the intention to deliberately seek out dark sky spots in order to more fully see the night sky.
Why is Astrotourism so Popular?
Dark Skies let you Escape Light Pollution
Look at a map of the world where you can see the light sources being emitted. You’ll notice that the lights around urban centres are very bright and extend pretty far in all directions. This brightness is called light pollution. According to Canada Under the Stars: “In large Canadian cities, more than 95% of stars that can normally be seen with the naked eye are no longer visible.”
With respect to adverse health effects, many species, especially humans, are dependent on natural body cycles called circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin, which are regulated by light and dark (e.g., day and night). If humans are exposed to light while sleeping, melatonin production can be suppressed. This can lead to sleep disorders and other health problems such as increased headaches, worker fatigue, medically defined stress, some forms of obesity due to lack of sleep and increased anxiety.Globe at Night: Light Pollution
It’s a Free way to Feel Part a Bigger Picture
It’s easy to feel small and insignificant when there are billions of people in the world. Looking up into the night sky and seeing stars, planets, and galaxies might make people feel that way, but not me.
Stargazing and looking up at the night sky I feel like I’m part of all the wondrous things happening now and that have been happening in the universe.
When I’m standing outside gazing upwards to the sky above me I think about all the other people who are stargazing at the same time. In the city, having the night sky obscured by light pollution makes me feel like I’m more isolated than when I can more fully see the stars.
A chance to Explore New Areas or Areas in a New way
If you’ve been to a location during the day, come back at night and see how it looks when it’s dark out. I look at the Dark Sky Finder to locate dark locations to check out that I normally wouldn’t have been to.
Great way to expand one’s Creative Expression
You’re not new to photography, but you’re looking for a new way to take photos. Astrotourism is challenging, fun, and a great way to expand your creative expression.
I love stopping at places that look like they have potential for the types of shots I prefer. I especially enjoy shots where mountains, trees, and water connect. However, I’ll stop other places, too – and sometimes I’m really surprised by how the photos turn out!
There are so many different settings you can use that simple tweaks can change the outcome of the photos. I haven’t tried taking videos, yet – but that’s another way to go when it comes to astrotourism.
As a Way to Be Alone with Your Thoughts
There’s something peaceful about being out when most people are sleeping. I’m often with a friend or alone when I stargaze. It’s so much easier to be still and quiet and let thoughts flow when in this space.
Where can I go Stargazing?
These 13 Amazing Stargazing Locations in Canada are a good place to start, as many places on the list are relatively easy to get to from major Canadian cities.
From Vancouver, you can head north on the Sea to Sky highway. There are some spots of pretty dark sky between Squamish and Whistler, but many more if you go past Whistler. The Manning Park area, east of Vancouver, also has some places for great night photography.
Astrotourism Photographers to Follow on Instagram
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Wishing on a Shooting Star .. Everything came together so unbelievably well on one of my recent adventures with a friend to some nearby provincial parks. With some determination, dedication and a sense of exploration, we were lucky to be able to see and capture some unique conditions. The day started off with @thelostgirlsguide and I finding a campsite for the night. We quickly packed our gear and hiked out to the Sand Dunes along Good Spirit Lake. It was hot and a beach adventure was exactly what we needed. I had been here before during the day and wanted to get back for some night shots. We enjoyed an absolutely breathtaking sunset and explored the area till dark. Setting up for this blue hour blend, I was hoping to catch the Milky Way before the rising moon would wash it out. We watched the daylight fade into the night. The stars started to shine one by one. It was also great to have someone willing to hang out to crazy times of night and pose for long exposures (before having to still hike the couple km’s back to our campsite 😄) We had an awesome time out watching the sky, with some incredible conditions and even some Aurora and the Meteor Shower to enjoy! Once the bright moon came up and everything faded, we hiked out and made it back to our cozy camp. It was a great night of sky watching, photography and adventure under our amazing Saskatchewan Skies🌾✨ #milkyway #nightphotography #skywatcher #nightsky
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“Silence that makes your ears ring” A few posts ago I mentioned spending a night here and photographing from around 1 am to a little after 3 am. I froze my butt off. I was not dressed for the level of the cold! It was a beautiful night – the full moon was slowly setting – Watching the moonlight play across Mt Adams was a nice distraction from the cold. I also loved the quiet, there was a level of stillness that is just so rare – your ears strain to hear something other than your own breath and I love it. Swipe over to see the star trails animated )I reversed it so that it would start dark and slowly light as the moon rose to the right. Plus a little fun extra at the end. #stars #astrophotography #longexposure #universetoday #nightphotography #astronomy #stargazing #longexposure_shots #starrynight #washington #upperleftusa #thatpnwlife #pnwcollective #pacificnorthwest #wildernessculture #neverstopexploring #optoutside
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🌌🌌🌌 #milkway #stargazing #starrynight #astrophotography #extremamg #minasgerais . . . ………………………………………………………………………. #artofvisuals #ig_color #earthofficial #earthfocus #earthpix #moodygrams #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #lifestyle #exploremore #outdoors #allaboutadventures #guardiantravelsnaps #travel #travelgram travelmore #bbctravel #photography #visualambassadors #theimaged #wonderful_places #instatravel #instagood ……………………………………………………………………….
Night sky viewing is so much easier as you get further away from large cities and places with a lot of light pollution. I hope you’re feeling motivated to go stargazing and perhaps to partake in some amateur astrophotography. Will you go stargazing tonight?