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Stargazing in the heart of Australia

The skies above the Central Australian desert in the Northern Territory are one of the only places in the world to see the southern hemisphere night sky at its clearest. Less chemical and light pollution means more night sky and stars, with opportunity to learn about the night sky from the heart of Australia.

They say the Australian Indigenous people are the world’s first astronomers – they’ve long used the night sky to plan their harvest and hunting seasons. As you leave major cities and head to the centre of Australia, you’ll get an unobstructed view of the sky sprinkled with millions of stars, you won’t need a torch as you’ll be illuminated from above.

Being in close proximity to the Milky Way means that the stars are bigger and brighter - and lower humidity in the Outback, paired with next to no superficial light, make the Australian Outback one of the best places to view stars. Uluru in particular is one of the best stargazing spots in the world with flat plains and red sand — a perfect location for looking up at the stars.

While you’re waiting patiently to visit Australia’s Northern Territory, read below some of the star tours that you need to put on your star studded bucket list.

Steven Wang from New Asia Pacific Travel runs nightly astrology tours against the backdrop of Uluru. He says, “there is no light pollution in Uluru especially during night when the National Park is closed while we get the special license to operate in the NP”.

“The background is phenomenal with Milky Way above the sky, and Uluru just outstanding above the flat Central Australia land.”

“During the day, people learn about Anagu's daytime Tjukurpa, but do not really have access to night-time stories. Our tour is focusing indigenous astrology – and we do combine the astrological stories about Northern Hemisphere, especially China's ancient astro-stories - so people find the Southern Hemisphere is also related to them from the other side of the earth.”

“People can enjoy stargazing with our telescope and binoculars with instructions from our star talker, get a photo with Uluru under the stars, and create lifetime memories to bring home and share.”

Oliver Yuen, Director of Guest Activities and Touring at Ayers Rock Resort

“Central Australia is known for its stellar views and Ayers Rock Resort offers experiences ranging from standalone evening astronomy tours, daily solar sun observations in town square and astronomy talks while guests are dining under the stars at Sounds of Silence and Tali Wiru.”

“Due to the sheer size of Australia, there are many parts of the country where the Southern sky can be viewed without obstruction or pollution. Around Uluru we can see celestial features like the Southern Cross, the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) and the Milky Way with incredible clarity. To many Indigenous groups across the country, the dark space (nebulae) within the Milky Way is seen as an emu – this can only be viewed in remote areas with little light pollution. At different times of the year we see alternating constellations rising and setting over the horizon in the evening.“

“Indigenous groups across Australia have been sharing stories of the stars and constellations for thousands of years. The night sky is used to teach lessons to children, aid with navigation and even show when it is time to harvest a fruit or vegetable. The Central Desert people see the Southern Cross as the branches of the Native peach (Quandong) tree and they know that when it is positioned low in the sky, it is time for them to go out and enjoy its fresh, ripe fruit.”

Tom Falzon, Alice Springs Earth Sanctuary

“The Red Centre one of the best locations for stargazing in Australia because there is no light or atmospheric pollution, and it is geographically 1600km from the nearest beach. Central Australia is well positioned for steady atmospheric conditions.”

“The Southern hemisphere enjoys views of the Milky Way Galaxy which are geographically not possible in much of the Northern Hemisphere. This includes views of the ecliptic (path of the Sun) which is the apparent pathway of the Planets, Moon and Zodiac constellations.”

“All year round offers unique views of the heavens. My favourite is mid-winter July, August on a Moonless night at about 3am when the Milky Way is directly overhead. AMAZING!”.

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