Are you dreaming of faraway places? Would space be far enough? Stargazing is becoming an emerging tourism trend worldwide. In recent years, there is an increase in interest in the science of cosmology. Since time immemorial, mankind has looked up at the heavens at night and amazed at the mysterious and unreachable lights. And ever since, civilizations the world over believed, and continue to believe, that the planets and stars influence our lives, whether directly or indirectly.
Ancient cultures have theorized the “aether” – a universal force that binds everything in the universe together through the emptiness of space. Nowadays, eco-conscious travelers want to re-connect with themselves to get pleasure and a sense of their place in the cosmos.
Did you know that approximately 80% of Europe’s inhabitants can’t see the Milky Way anymore from their place of residence? Too much light pollution has consequences. It washes out starlight in the night sky, interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, has adverse health effects and wastes energy. If you live in a densely populated, light-polluted area, a visit to the observatory will represent a very special experience. Seek out the world’s last-remaining dark skies where you can get a clear, unpolluted view of the stars.
Observe the night sky; combine seeing your new holiday location with getting under the stars and sipping a glass of champagne. Experience amazing dark sky wonders using the large telescope and guidance of an expert. Participate in a short astronomy course, astrophotography or attend a star-party.
Croatia is offering you diverse Astro-experiences in fascinating observatories or private night-sky tours. One of the most popular stargazing experiences represents the annual Perseid meteor shower called “the tears of St. Lawrence” in the beginning of August. Here is the list of Astro-activities to see the sky free from light pollution:
1. Indulge in stargazing sessions in Makarska Observatory
Makarska Observatory – the most south and youngest observatory in Croatia, is open to visitors for guided tours and stargazing sessions from June until September (Monday to Friday from 21:00 to 23:00). Astro-park and Astro playgrounds for children are open 24h all year long.
2. Observe the celestial objects in Višnjan Observatory
Višnjan Observatory on Tičan hill in Istria is a member of the International Asteroid Warning Network. Among the top five observatories in the world, they are collecting near-Earth object (NEO) measurements to determine if they are a threat to Earth. They are also a member of the Spaceguard Foundation to discover celestial bodies that could potentially be a threat to life on Earth. Find out more about Solar System, Asteroids and Space Guard. The observatory is open during the summer for individual visits and groups.
3. Visit Astronomical Centre Rijeka and chill in the rooftop cafe with the best panoramic view
Astronomical Centre Rijeka is the first and the only Astronomical Centre in Croatia with the both, observatory and the digital planetarium (for movie projections and live shows about astronomy). It is located on the top of the Holy Cross Hill, which is considered to be the oldest archaeological site in Rijeka and had been used as a military fortress during World War II. Now it is fully renovated and easily accessible from the city. Even though there is light pollution from the city, it is possible to have a very clear view from the telescope. This location is very popular among the locals because it has an upper panoramic terrace cafe with the best view of the city and various Astro-educational events. During summer, every Wednesday at 20:00 there is a special film screening for tourists in the English language and stargazing with the telescope in observatory every Saturday at 22:00 (if the weather allowed).
4. Visit Star Village Mosor for unforgettable Astro-experiences near Split
Zvjezdano selo (Star Village) is an observatory 22 km from Split, where you can enjoy the amazing sunset view and wait for the stars to appear. You will hear the lecture from astronomer, study stars and galaxies and stargaze with the telescope. During the summer, the observatory is open to the public Friday and Saturday evening from 17-24h.
5. Enjoy the panoramic view and wonders of the night sky on island Hvar
Enjoy the remarkable sunset on the island Hvar and taste local gastronomy and wine in one of the best restaurants on the entire island. Learn about astronomy with a professional guide. Experience the awesome Hvar night sky using the telescope for stargazing. Observe the most attractive objects, such as the moon, planets, galaxies, and binary stars.
6. Visit Zagreb Observatory and experience antique Astro-lecture room
Zagreb Observatory is located in the city center, opened in 1903. The interior is uniquely preserved and represents a very special experience of the antique Astro-classroom. With the main telescope under the dome of the Observatory, you can observe the glittering celestial bodies, such as the Moon, planets, and some nebulae. The observatory is open during the weekdays (except Mondays) from 20-22h.
7. Attend a star-party in the first International Dark Sky Place in Croatia
In the proximity of Zagreb, you can visit Petrova Gora – Biljeg, a significant landscape and the first International Dark Sky Place in Croatia awarded with the International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) certificate. Astronomy activities have been held here since 2007 by the Astronomy Society Infinitum, making it one of the most popular sites in Croatia for stargazing, star-parties, and astrophotography.
Where to eco-friendly stay on your stargazing holidays?
Dol Hills estate is a luxury night-sky villa, where the living room comes with the telescope and a bedroom with the ”sky bed”. This secluded eco-friendly estate is located in the heart of island Brač and represents a perfect Oasis of Peace for luxury getaway 365. Ideal for those in search of privacy, comfort, stunning views, eco experiences, bright stars and civilization detox.
Stargazing nights and Astro experiences can really give that special meaning to your holidays. Just turn off your phone, indulge in the present moment, nurture your inner child and enjoy the sparkling view. What’s your favorite location for stargazing?
Cover photo: Astronomical Centre Rijeka