Stargazing, sungazing, and the never-ending search for the elusive Aurora Borealis have become a global phenomenon in recent times. There are even specialty travel agents who design packages and expeditions purely for travellers who want to catch a glimmer of the magical Northern Lights.
Of course, Iceland features highly on the list of Stargazing destinations with its pure, unspoilt night sky offering visitors a good chance of experiencing a display of the lights for approximately 8 months of the year. The exceptional clarity of the night sky in Iceland makes it the perfect location for stargazing and the lure of the Northern Lights attracts thousands of visitors from all over the globe, each hoping for that ‘bucket list’ experience.
Hotel Rangá is, without a doubt, one of the best places in the world to pursue your star-gazing quest and even boasts its own purpose-built observatory. Voted one of the top destinations in the world by the Telegraph and the Times newspapers, Hotel Rangá offers its guests a Northern Lights wake up service where guests are helped into artic snowsuits and handed hot toddies on their way to see the lights in their unimaginable beauty. View the vast night skies from your balcony or lie back on one of the stargazing recliners located at Hotel Rangá’s entrance. Better still, enjoy a late-night dip in one of the outdoor hot-tubs and celebrate the magic of the Milky Way with a glass of schnapps in hand – a real once in a lifetime experience.
If you take your stargazing a little more seriously then make your way to the state of the art observatory located just a 5-minute walk from the hotel. On most clear nights Sævar Helgi Bragason, one of Iceland’s leading night-sky experts is on hand to guide you through the constellations using high-spec telescopes that open-up endless new worlds floating in the dark skies above Iceland’s volcanic land. The observatory allows guests to take the stargazing experience to a whole new level and often visitors want to continue learning about the night skies after they return home. The tranquillity, complexity and beauty of Iceland’s sky at night draws visitors to return time and time again. If you have been bitten by the stargazing bug here are a few simple ideas for continuing your interest.
- Familiarise yourself with the more obvious, visible markers and constellations as these will help you become comfortable and confident and act as a simple map of the sky. Pick out patterns such as The Plough and Orion and then add more points of reference as you become more familiar.
- Buy a good pair of binoculars as these act as low-grade telescopes that allow you to see further into the sky. View the Milky Way and groups of stars such as the Seven Sisters and clouds of gas including Orion Nebula.
- Find a location that has as little light pollution as possible as street lights create a glare. Find a tranquil spot away from the interference of city lights. Allow your eyes to re-adjust from electric lights and gently focus on the darkness.
- Ensure you are warm and comfortable, you need patience and planning to really enjoy the stargazing experience to its fullest. It is a good idea to take a sun-lounger or deck-chair with you to avoid neck-ache.
- Share your passion with others, join a club or society who have a telescope, support your local observatory and involve children, as nothing is more magical than seeing the young learning about the great sky at night