Sunday, January 15, 2012

Insider The Guide

 florence, Itay
Executive summary by darmansjah

The experts on wondrous skies, th world’s best-connected airports and how to avoid scams.

The big Tree
‘Where can I go to get away from bright city lights and to see great night skies, with plenty to do during the day as well?  Matt Bronson, Chichago

Umbria Italy

The best sky i’ve ever seen was when I was staying in a converted farmhouse in rural Umbria, Italy. The beauty of this part of the world is the mix of a rustic pace of life, wonderful food and drink, and a huge variety of things to do in small area. The villages around ovrvieto, a beautiful hilltop town with excellent wineries nearby, make good bases. Take day trips to the gorgeous university town of Perugia and the lao di Boisena. The area is also close enough to make dash to Florence or Rome should you crave a hit of big city life. Be sure to be back in your rural idyll for sunset and then the evening light show; it can be dazzling especially to those who live in a city. There’s a hand picked selection of properties at VTC Italy to give you some ideas ( as you might expect, high summer is high season. While swimming pool weather is restricted to the summer months, the starry sky will be there year-round.

Tucson, Arizona

Love the question. A super place to base yourself with much to do including stargazing is Tucson, Arizona, a soutwetern university town undergoing a renaissance-and a place that’s very porud of keeping itself dark. The surrounding mountains are home to observatories and the city has strict ‘dark skies’ regulations on lighting (downward). A short drive to the west is the Saguaro National Park, home to cartoon-style cacti. There are looping drives, hikes, and it’s a local favourtie for sunset (nps gov/sagu). To get the space theme toing, tucson’s Flandrau Science Center offers 3D views of Mars ( be sure to take a day trip 56 miles soutwest to Kitt Peak National Observatory, one of the world’s largest, for tis three-hour night-time observing programmes (; book weeks ahead). Away from the stars, Tucson deserves some attention for its nightlife and food around its historic heart, traversed by a new streetcar.

Victoria, Australia

Australia’s vastness offers unparalleled locales for stargazing. Take, for example, the drive along the Great Ocean Raod in Victoria. This 150-miles stretch of coastal road takes you past rainforest, surfing beaches, charming seaside town. Battered rock formations and shipwreck sites. Torquay, at the start of the drive, has a fantastic surfing beach. Continuing along you’ll pass through Lome and Apollo Bay, two seaside towns that are pit stops for fish and chips. Keep you eyes peeled for Bech Forest – tamph through rainforest and climb to platforms above the canopy. Head inland to a volcnic landscpae as you travel between  the towns of Coalc and Camperdown via Red Rock Lookout. Most visitors end their trip at the Twelve Apostles – now only seven rock stacks standing out in the sea. For accommodation, find a secluded place with limited light pollution, such as Cape Otway Cottages (cottages from US$240 for two nights;

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