Muauna KeaWikimedia Commons


Earth is interesting. On it you can find ocean trenches that go kilometers deep or the ruins of ancient civilizations, a pure white beach or a patch of jungle with more species than exist on most whole continents. However, all of these wonders have the drawback of being, in the grand scheme of things, rather domestic. There are a few places, though, that travellers can go to to see the true, universal scheme of things for themselves.

Astronomical tourism attracts tourists from around the world, a simultaneous star-and-tech-gazing adventure that’s as much about the observatories themselves as anything they can reveal. Technological marvels with the power to show us the true wonders of the universe, these highly-situated spy towers are sought-after destinations – remember to book well in advance!

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England is a must-see for any true astrothusiast. The Royal Society of England produced most of the important astronomical research from the mid-1600s to the early 1900s, and the Royal Observatory was the epicenter of all that progress. Set directly atop the physical prime meridian, which defines zero-degrees longitude for most of the world, the Royal Observatory absolutely teems with rich, erudite history and a world-class compliment of astronomical technology.

Muana Kea Observatory is another tourist-friendly cluster of towers and telescopes. Tours are frequent, and telescope time is always reserved for groups of travellers. Some of these wondrous gizmos required funding and expertise from multiple nations, joint efforts to bring the world’s most advanced viewing technology to one of the most trafficked destinations on Earth.

You might think the lights and sounds of New York would overshadow a lowly planetarium, but the famous Hayden Planetarium has carved out a name and visibility even in that most distracting of cities. The stunning and educational center, run by physicist and television personality Neil Tyson, lets visitors ascend to the Hayden Sphere for an audio-visual guide to the birth of the universe, and regular viewings of the universe we call home.

The cleverly named Center of the Universe puts a public face on Victoria’s renowned Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics.