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  • Writer's pictureCelestial Events SA

Astro Tourism

Staring into the Abyss

Imagination is perhaps the most powerful tool at mankind’s disposal. It knows no bounds and is the conduit through which almost every realised idea must first travel. But in our fast-paced world, where knowledge is readily available to those that seek it, the power of the imagination is falling sadly by the wayside…

Trends in the tourism industry often reflect what people are truly searching for and there is perhaps little surprise to learn that more and more people are foregoing the lavish holiday destinations for those in isolated and untouched areas of natural wilderness. Like it or not, every one of us has a connection to nature and to something much, much bigger than ourselves.

What better way to rekindle that lost imagination, and our primal desire to be among the natural world, than to look skyward on a dark night. Space is the ultimate escape. It is a place where the world we know is not contained within finite boundaries and it allows our brains to imagine…

Light pollution is a scourge of our home. More than 80% of our population suffers from excessive artificial light, and this means that very few people have truly witnessed the wonderous magnificence of the night sky. To view the full extent of our Milky Way is a powerful and humbling experience and it is something that everyone will remember.

Knowledge of the stars used to be reserved for scientists alone but in reality, the night sky is available to everyone, regardless of their knowledge base. Today, various reserves are protected as ‘dark sky sites’ offering visitors a chance to view the heavens in the same way that ancestors once did. Such is the profundity of this experience; it is simply not possible to sum it up in words. It has to be seen to be believed.

Thankfully, the wilderness areas of South Africa offer some of the purest viewing experiences in the world. From the vast blackness of the Karoo night skies, to the teeming wildlife haven of the Kruger National Park, guests from all over the globe are flocking to the sites to witness the darkness above. Astronomy nights are becoming ever more popular and visits to planetariums and observatories are also on the rise as people search for solace in our hectic world.

An astronomy experience should be on everyone’s bucket list, not only because it is genuinely fascinating; even inspiring, but also with the expansion of urbanisation, dark

skies may soon become a thing of the past. It is harrowing to think that our children may never have the opportunity to stare deep into the abyss of space and unleash their boundless imagination. So, whether you book a private star gazing event, join a local ‘star party’, or take a trip to some of the world-renowned observatories in Sutherland, a night under the stars is bound to leave a lasting impression, regardless of your age or knowledge base.

Travel is all about exploration, and the rise of Astro-Tourism offers the average person new and unique opportunities to explore not only the heavens, but themselves. Almost every aspect of our world and society has been shaped by watching the movement of the stars and the fate of our planet will ultimately be decided by celestial means. (assuming we do not destroy it first!)

To understand the heavens is to understand our place in the cosmos. Our origins and our future. It is the ultimate connection to nature.

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