No, we’re not talking about watching the Academy Awards® from the comfort of your California King size bedding, we’re talking about gazing upon actual heavenly bodies. We all have experienced the delight and awe of unexpectedly seeing a bright, full moon, prompting untold millions over the years to call out, “Come and look at the moon!”
Continuing this spirit and tradition, a new type of tourist has been identified and labelled: the “Astrotourist.” The Astrotourist is looking for something a bit beyond the warm feeling and awe that a full moon inspires; they are in search of dark skies, the Milky Way, meteors, comets, and a feeling of communication with peoples past who also gazed upon the dark sky with wonder.
As civilization advances, light pollution has become a reality, affecting creatures from sea turtles to humans. It is no surprise, therefore, that light pollution has also made stargazing more difficult and a truly dark sky a thing of relative rarity, thus, the Astrotourist. The Astrotourist travels in search of dark skies at night and also seeks plenty of activities in the daytime, such as hiking, riding, cycling, etc.
Camps and accommodations in remote areas offer multiple options to the budding Astrotourist. You can visit a “dude ranch” featuring all the modern creature comforts, such as hotel quality bedding and hotel pillows and well-planned and prepared meals. Your main challenge may be resisting the temptations of the well-appointed bed and staying up late enough to catch the sky show.
The other end of the comfort spectrum features outdoor camping under the stars, or at least in a tent. In this case, you will want to have a top-quality sleeping bag and bring your favorite extra soft down pillow along (plus a sleeping pad such as a cloud top ultra plush pillow top feather bed your camping essentials).
Comfortably ensconced at the dude ranch or camping under the stars, whatever your style, here are the top places in the United States to get the very best look at the night sky:
- Escalante National Monument, New Mexico and Utah
- Joshua Tree National Monument, California
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- Arches National Park, Utah
If you don’t have the time or means to travel from home, here are some tips to get started in your own backyard, snuggled under a down comforter or lightweight blanket, with your head on a soft feather pillow.
- Check out the International Dark-Sky Association, which promotes the preservation of dark skies in over 50 countries and offers numerous activities and products focussed on preserving the night sky.
- Download an app to help you locate the various constellations and anticipate the upcoming viewing conditions. Blue light from a cell phone degrades the viewing experience, so once you are oriented, turn off the phone and use a red flashlight when you need a bit of illumination.
- Get the whole family involved.
- Make a telescope or mini-planetarium!
- Take a virtual tour of the night sky in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
- Look for dark skies near you and get started there. The IDSA is expanding their network of International Dark-sky Places every year, with over 130 designated to date.
And one final tip, take a little nap in your comfy bed the afternoon before your first stargazing session - it will both refresh you for the evening’s activities and help slow your natural rhythm, in order to better enjoy this leisurely and timeless activity.
If you would like any help or professional advice before ordering your bedding, you may contact our customer service representatives by email, and they will assist you in your decision-making. Concerning your outdoor equipment, you can visit our Downlite Outdoor webpage and learn more about high quality down filled products from our partners.