Alin Fuentes

Astrotourism: what is it and where to do it?

Alin Fuentes

Astrotourism: what is it and where to do it?

"The study of the universe is a journey of self-discovery. Carl Sagan (1934-1996).

For millennia, humans have looked up at the night sky wondering what exists beyond what we can see.

Marveling at the stars that make up various constellations, such as Orion, ancient civilisations, from the Egyptians to the Mayans, began to develop an incipient astronomy, which would change with the contributions of Claudius Ptolemy, who believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe. Several centuries later, these beliefs were refuted by the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who believed that the Sun was the centre of the universe. Galileo Galilei then built his own telescope and observed lunar craters, while Johannes Kepler followed up on the studies of his mentor Tycho Brahe with the laws that now bear his name.

Then came the physicist Isaac Newton, who contributed the Law of Universal Gravitation. The Americans Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt, together with the Women Astronomical Computers, made important discoveries that would help Edwin Hubble, Albert Einstein and modern astronomers to better understand the universe.

What is astro-tourism?

Nowadays and in accordance with new trends, in the tourism sector there is a segment focused on sidereal observation, scientific dissemination of astronomical events and knowledge about the universe, which we call astrotourism.

The astronomical events that are generally observed are planetary conjunctions, solstices and equinoxes, moon observation, space launches, northern lights, lunar and solar eclipses, meteor showers. There are also camps, workshops, conferences and courses in which astronomy is the main theme, which can be aimed at the general public, amateurs or professionals.

Therefore, we can define astrotourism as a sustainable tourism segment, focused on astronomical activities, whether for leisure, scientific dissemination or knowledge.

Astrotourism is constantly growing, which is why there are more and more frequent questions related to the subject on Internet search engines.

Characteristics of the destinations for astro-tourism

The destinations belonging to this segment are characterised by having completely clear skies, no or little light pollution, in order to be able to appreciate celestial bodies and astronomical phenomena; telescopes, binoculars or cameras can be used. It is generally practised in natural environments and in a rural setting. Observations are mostly made during the course of the night. Even when there is an outstanding astronomical event, live broadcasts are made through social networks, so that the followers of the pages can watch it. Scientific disseminators participate, making contributions in a clear and simple way, thus bringing knowledge closer to the followers.

Astrotourism is a segment in which other tourist activities can be carried out, such as nature appreciation, skiing (in destinations such as Iceland, Canada or Norway), interpretative photography, hiking, walking, tasting local gastronomy, visits to planetariums or museums with an astronomical theme (in some destinations there are archaeological sites), workshops and guided tours in which you can have a cultural and historical approach to the host community.

Recommended destinations

Here are some recommended destinations for astro-tourism:

Recommendations for astro-tourism

Astrotourism is one of the segments that allows you to look at the night sky and connect to the past through stargazing. It brings you closer to the knowledge and understanding of the universe.

Author: Alin Fuentes. Entorno Turístico

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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