It’s not remotely a surprise to anyone that the peak of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea has been chosen for the installation of the Thirty Meter Telescope, one of several next-generation optical telescopes that promise to help us reach amazing advances in astronomy during this century. This place is the dream of any professional (and amateur) astronomer: the ones that have visited it say that it’s like sitting in the front row of a cinema that is playing a movie about the universe.
That is why this location houses one of the largest collections of observatories in the world – 13, to be more accurate –, which are operated by scientists from 11 different countries. It’s only normal then that the visitors of Mauna Kea look at it as a truly unique place on the planet, despite its low oxygen level, freezing temperature and lack of artificial lighting. Just to give you an example, the Mars Rover wouldn’t feel displaced in here.
The astronomer Michael Bolte, director of the University of California Observatories, says that “the night sky at Mauna Kea is simply indescribable. When you go out at night and look at the sky is like looking through a window straight to the heart of the Universe”. That is why the local telescopes can produce such advanced studies of the galaxy. Take as an example one of the most amazing phenomenon captured by the Gemini Observatory, in April: a burst of gamma rays that traveled more than 13 billion years, almost since the birth of the universe. However, the Hawaiian volcano is not the only place where you can watch the stars. Take a look at our infographic and find out another four awesome places in four different continents where the sky is more beautiful and where the stars shine brighter.