By George Stone, TRAVEL Executive Editor
A month ago I had the sky to myself. I was in Tofino, an idyllic town at the far end of a peninsula on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and my head was in the heavens. Scattered above in the Milky Way, glittering and vivid, were too many stars to count. I felt awed not just to be in a beautiful place on Earth, but to get an inkling of our planet’s place in the galaxy.
Seeing constellations so clearly seems to get more difficult each year. Light bulbs are stealing the night, with costs to our ecosystems, energy sources, and even our internal biochemical rhythms. But a movement to combat light pollution is underway, led by the International Dark-Sky Association, which is having its annual meeting this week in Tucson, Arizona. What to expect: new strategies for protecting night skies and recognition of places around the world where the stars twinkle brightest.
Where can you shoot for the stars? Here’s our list of the best places on the planet for stargazing, from Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah (the world’s first International Dark-Sky Park) to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand, where stars have played a crucial role in navigation and belief for indigenous Maori. Around the world there are dozens of designated Dark Sky Parks, including many in the U.S.
Wherever you go, look up and you might get lucky. But the best luck for stargazers is when we all turn off the lights and let our planet shine.
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Today in a minute
Extended: High demand drove New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage to extend its Auschwitz exhibit, originally due to close in January, to August. The 18,000-square-foot exhibit has more than 1,000 artifacts recovered from the Nazi death camp as well as personal accounts from Holocaust survivors, Afar reports.
What to do in November? Why limit yourself to Thanksgiving? This month has Bavaria in Texas, fireworks in London, and manta rays in Mozambique. Check out our picks for travel in November.
Footbridge in the trees: It’s one of the world’s rainiest spots. Getting to this stunning Tolkienesque bridge in India, in “the abode of the clouds," is an art in itself, explains National Geographic writer Nina Strochlic.
Cutting out the middlemen: Visitors seeking Berber rugs in this Morocco town must abide by one rule: The women run this market. The success of Khemisset’s zarabi souk has spawned two similar, smaller, women-run markets in the plains surrounding the Atlas Mountains, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
Award season: National Geographic Traveler won best magazine and Natgeotravel.com won best website honors at the 2019 Society of American Travel Writers Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. The awards are the highest accolades in travel journalism. Traveler scored eight awards, including gold prizes for feature articles about tea in China and the new Greek odyssey, as well as silver prizes for a behind-the-scenes video of Christoph Niemann’s illustrated travelogue Along the Mekong.
Your Instagram photo of the day
Curvy. Lombard Street, shown here, lays claim to being the most crooked street in the world. But few know Vermont Street, a different San Francisco street, also claims that title. It has seven sharp turns as opposed to Lombard's eight, but its hill is steeper than the one on Lombard Street. Regardless, it’s hard to deny how beautiful Lombard looks from above. This photo was taken from a helicopter.
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Overheard at National Geographic
Late-night dining. In Siem Reap, Cambodia, Nat Geo’s Becky Davis took a tour of a silk factory to learn about handmade silk and production. She learned that while silkworms are best known for their work in the textile industry, some 20 percent of them are boiled and eaten. Grasshoppers, silkworms, and crickets are all considered late-night snacks for those who may have imbibed. “The flavor,” Davis reports, “is akin to boiled peanuts, but the texture is less firm.” Catch additional Nat Geo stories on Overheard, our podcast. Subscribe here.
What we're reading
98 books and counting. We asked senior editor Amy Alipio, who has run the in-house National Geographic travel book club for the past 11 years, about this month’s pick, Gods of Jade and Shadow, a novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “It’s set in a Jazz Age Mexico where a Maya god of death and a spirited Cinderella roam the Yucatán in search of lost relics,” Alipio says. “I love the surprising mix of Maya folklore, mystery, and coming-of-age adventure that makes you want to learn more about the history and lore of Mexico.” Curious to see the books we’ve read? Here’s the 98-book list (so far). Think we’re missing a good book? Email Amy at Amy.Alipio@natgeo.com to make a suggestion.
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Tomorrow, SCIENCE Executive Editor Victoria Jaggard explores the lure of Jupiter. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here.
One last glimpse
Looking for dark skies. Covered in a blanket of low-lying clouds, Tak Bai, Thailand, is heavily illuminated at night, blocking the view of twinkling stars overhead that becomes visible only from outside the city.