Saturday, December 4

A network of hotels with telescopes to practice ‘astrotourism’ … and have views of the stars

Seeing a sky full of stars is not so easy. The fact is that they are there, along with a few planets as well, but if you live in a place where light pollution acts as a barrier, you may want to leave your home and go somewhere else. Pack your bags and travel to a destination where the contemplation of the sky is free of obstacles and enjoy with all the guarantees of a sky full of celestial bodies.

Traditionally, you could look for a rural destination, choose a day when the moon does not reflect much light, try to guess the time, avoid the clouds, lie down on your blanket and look up, waiting for the stars to be seen before you. But today, luckily for astronomy lovers, stellar tourism or astrotourism is in vogue and more and more accommodations are specially prepared to enjoy the sky in all its splendor.

In this way, astrotourism combines observation of the night sky with popularization and leisure activities related to astronomy. And if there is a clear driver of this tourism that encourages star gazing, that is undoubtedly the Starlight Foundation, a non-profit organization launched in 2009 by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) that encourages us to care for, appreciate and admire our night skies.

Starlight certified astrotourism

Among the many tasks that the Starlight Foundation always has on its hands is that of certifying especially good places to see the stars. Locations that enjoy excellent sky quality and that represent an example of protection and conservation. So we can always consult a list of destinations where observation conditions are optimal. This has a direct impact on rural tourism, but always, and to follow the guidelines of the foundation, promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly development.

There are different types of certifications, from the Starlight Reserves, which are protected natural spaces where a commitment is established to defend the quality of the night sky and access to the light of the stars, to the Star Parks, where infrastructures are set up. permanent that help us see the stars. All this also passing through Starlight tourist destinations, Starlight towns and cities, Starlight places, Starlight camps and, in addition, Starlight accommodations.

Since it is a night-time activity, Starlight has its own certification for houses and hotels that, in addition to offering an accredited quality of accommodation, become propagators of Starlight values. Among hotels, hostels, camps, guesthouses and even inns, Starlight has created a network of accommodation especially focused on astrotourism, where information about Starlight and some means for astronomical observation, such as telescopes or sky charts, are made available to customers. Authentic diffusers of that astronomical culture that increasingly attracts more and more people.

What Makes Starlight Hosting Starlight Hosting

Starlight accommodations are not just any accommodations. To belong to this network and obtain their certification, they must comply with a series of requirements so that those who stay in them can enjoy the best conditions for observing the sky. They must offer a certain quality, that is, a good level of comfort so that we are comfortable in them. But in addition, they must ensure that the quality of the sky in their surroundings is maintained, including reporting cases of irresponsible lighting so that conditions are always the best, and respecting and defending the Declaration on the Defense of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight by Starlight.

A Starlight accommodation must have certain astronomical equipment and material. At least you must be able to make a night telescope available to your clients or, if not, have the services of an astronomer or astronomical association that can make one available to guests. You must also offer binoculars in proportion to the number of beds and, in addition, have material with which to orient yourself in the night sky, such as planispheres or sky charts.

If to all this we add a good information service on the astronomical activities that can be carried out in the environment, whether they are routes or visits to nearby observatories, or the start-up of our own projects related to astrotourism, we already have the ideal accommodation to enjoy our skies at night.

Accommodation with views… to the stars

Starlight has been certifying and adding accommodations to its network since 2014, so today the options are numerous. When you search among their accommodations you will see that there are hotels, rural houses, mountain refuges, monasteries, hostels, inns, hostels, farms, camps, apartments or even riads, because although the vast majority are in Spanish territory there are also in Canada, Peru, Sweden or Morocco.

To name a few, the hotel The Royal Kite, in Hoyos del Espino, in Ávila, offers guided astronomy sessions carried out in its own observation dome, with a telescope and specialized guide. Wave House of the Altozano, also in Gredos, which thanks to its Polaris observatory won the International Award for the Best Starlight Accommodation 2020. The Hotel Ibiza Twins, in Ibiza, also received in 2020 a Starlight recognition for its intelligent lighting and innovation, at the same time as the rural hotel Morvedra Nou de Menorca was highlighted as Starlight accommodation for offering activities under stars and planets.

The Eco Hotel Doña Mayor, in Frómista (Palencia), organizes astronomical activities in which it lends its telescopes and binoculars. If you are looking for a more austere experience, El Olivar MonasteryIn Estercuel (Teruel) he carries out guided stargazing activities and even night photography courses. The rural house Between Encinas and Stars, in Higuera la Real, in Badajoz, it already says it all with its name. It boasts of having the largest telescope hosting in Europe and offers all kinds of activities related to astronomy. But if you want to stay in style, you will like to know that the Paradores de Las Cañadas del Teide (Tenerife), Naturia de Mazagón (Huelva), Gredos (Ávila), Rodrigo City (Salamanca) and The Palm They are also Starlight certified. To know all of them, you only have to access the Starlight accommodation list offered by the foundation.