10 Dazzling Celestial Displays and Where to See Them
Witness some of nature's most mesmerizing light shows.
On any given day, a skyward gaze can be rewarded with a spectacular show, whether you’re catching a colourful sunset while sitting in traffic or basking in the glow of a harvest moon. But some places on our planet are especially prone to celestial displays, offering front-row seats to incredible spectacles of natural light.
Bigger Than Big Sky
Forget Montana—there’s no “big sky” quite like the one hovering above Mongolia’s Gobi. Far from any light pollution, this vast swath of blue is the ultimate canvas for astral artwork. Each and every evening, a glance up at the stars will provide you with a front-row seat to mother nature’s most spectacular creation.
All the Stars
When it comes to constellations, do the patterns of the north light up your life, or are you more dazzled by the stars of the south? On a voyage to the Galápagos, you don’t have to choose as many expedition cruises will allow you the opportunity to gaze at both hemispheres at the same time. A truly remarkable experience that can only be enjoyed from the water.
The Original Google Maps
Before the days of GPS, shimmering stars created the most reliable maps for a journey into the wilderness. Bedouins once used celestial bodies to find their way across desert sands, and you’ll get a lesson in this natural form of navigation during a visit to Wadi Rum. Stargazing doesn’t get any purer than in the heart of a desert, surrounded by dunes.
Under Neon Lights
One of nature’s most dazzling displays is the aurora borealis, and there is perhaps no more of an epic place to view this otherworldly light show than from the Arctic snowscapes. Lapland’s pristine wilderness offers the perfect conditions to view the iconic northern lights and their kaleidoscope swirls, and you can even stay in glass-roofed cabins, for spectacular views all night long.
African Sunsets Forever
When the sun settles into the Okavango Delta on a clear night, it paints a brilliant backdrop of coral and crimson—a scene stunning enough to eclipse any wildlife spectacle in your field of vision. During a safari across southern Africa, finish your day watching the sun descent before the stars come to life. A million sparkles fill the sky in an awe-inspiring display that is hard to beat.
Rock Around the Clock
In the weeks surrounding the summer solstice, Alaska is lit up around the clock, making it the perfect destination for travellers who don’t require much shuteye. The long days ensure activities such as white-water rafting, glacier trekking, and alpine hiking are available well into the evening. But don’t worry if you can’t make it here during solstice season. As the daylight hours decrease, your chances of spying the northern lights go up.
Light Pollution Solution
Set out from Vegas, trading in its neon lights for something even more brilliant: a star-studded desert sky. In Flagstaff, go behind the scenes at the celebrated Lowell Observatory to learn about the research conducted by National Geographic-funded astronomers. Continue to Sequoia National Park, where low light pollution and high altitudes make for some of the best stargazing in the U.S. Here, an astronomy expert will help us spot far-off planets and twinkling constellations.
The Aurora Australis
Though not as well-known as their cousins to the north, the southern lights are no less spectacular when it comes to visual effects. The aurora Australis keep a lower profile simply due to a dearth of viewing platforms on terra firma. One place you can spy these neon beauties is from South Georgia island.
Red Red Rocks
As dawn breaks on Uluru, the massive monolith takes on its characteristic red glow, emanating luminous hues that can tint passing clouds orange. Settle into Longitude 131°, a lodge designed to steep guests in the magic of the monolith. Glass-walled suites reveal the rock’s radiance around the clock, and the experience centres around sunrise and sunset excursions to its base.
From Jaipur to Jodhpur, capture bustling cities waking from slumber and finishing the day in an orange haze during a trip to India. Set your alarm and head to some of the countries most majestic landmarks where the rising sun allows for the perfect shot. At dusk, join the crowds which gather to experience the beauty of the golden hour across the country, another opportunity to capture the perfect shot.
Experience these epic celestial displays during an expedition with National Geographic. From our Tours with an Expert to Journeys in partnership with G Adventures and our luxurious Expedition Cruises; you never know what wonders await in the skies above. Alternatively, search by destination.