When Valerie Stimac spotted Hale-Bopp, that was it. She was hooked.
That unusually bright comet, which flew by earth in the mid-1990s,sparked, her lifelong fascination with the night sky. Add to that the fact that she grew up in Alaska watching the aurora borealis on a regularly basis, and it’s easy to see why she fell for starry nights early on. It also makes sense that her career now focuses on all things celestial.
As the founder of Space Tourism Guide and author of “Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism,” she loves getting others stoked on stellar encounters through astrotourism. Which begs the questions, what exactly is astrotourism?
It encompasses any travel related to astronomy experiences, she says, whether it’s a solar eclipse, meteor shower, rocket launch or even something more off-worldly like taking a zero-gravity flight or eventually going to space.
If you can, try to plan your trip around an astronomy events. In 2021, Stimac says to consider the lunar occultation of Mars in April, total lunar eclipse in May, lunar occultation of Venus in November and total solar eclipse over Antarctica in December.
“The best astronomical phenomena in 2020 were ones we didn’t necessarily know to plan for – Comet NEOWISE was only discovered in March,” she says. “I’m also excited for what new wonders we’ll discover this year.”
Here are several resorts with a focus on astronomy.
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