Astro-tourism on the rise as stargazers seek out best spots to observe Mars closest to Earth
As astronomy enthusiasts all around the world gear up for the biggest astronomical event of the summer, with Mars moving closest to Earth since August 2003, the travel industry sees a spike in destinations synonymous with stargazing.
Astro-tourism is the latest travel trend on the rise and one that Airbnb is championing. The company has seen significant year-on-year growth to places like La Palma, Spain (90%), Antofagasta, Chile (327%), Kiruna, Sweden (134%) and Yarmouth, Canada (221%). In the last 12 months alone, more than 50,000 Airbnb guests from 26 countries have travelled to America to witness the solar eclipse.
Astronomy fans are particularly excited about Mars coming close to Earth during a lunar eclipse on 27 July. Fans of starry skies will see the Red Planet move as close to the Earth as it has been for 15 years. It is also set to be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
Airbnb is to host a unique experience for the upcoming astronomical phenomenon where six guests will get to witness it from one of the top stargazing hot spots, and visit the world’s largest telescope - Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) in La Palma, Spain.
Romano Corradi, director of GTC - the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope - said he and his team are looking forward to welcoming their new visitors. “On July 27, Mars and Earth will be at opposition, which means the planet will shine brightest, and it will be accompanied by a unique lunar eclipse - the perfect opportunity to stargaze.”
The 8.5-hour event, which is a social impact experience with all proceeds going to the WWF Spain, will be hosted by Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide and night photography expert, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, GTC's chief of scientific operations. Throughout the night, we will be able to exit the building to contemplate Mars and the longest lunar eclipse in the 21st century, which will taint the moon red, in a potent, portable telescope -the best equipment to see these phenomena- and learn all the secrets about night photography.
Joe Zadeh, Head of Airbnb Experiences, hailed the astro-tourism event in La Palma - famed for its clear night skies and transparent atmosphere - as one of the most incredible the company had ever organised.
He said: “Astro-tourism is an environmentally-friendly, authentic, sustainable way to travel that can economically empower lesser-known, rural communities, and we are proud to be boosting this phenomenon thanks to hosts who share their home or passion for astronomy on the platform.”
“This experience at GTC is an extraordinary opportunity for travellers worldwide to marvel at the beauty of the night sky, and to educate the general public on why it’s important to preserve it.”
Bookings for the Airbnb Social Impact Experience open from 06:00 CET on July 11 2018 priced at just €40 with all proceeds going to the WWF Spain. Experience: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/299583
● In the last year, 50,000 Airbnb guests from 26 countries traveled to the US for the solar eclipse.
● Areas with prime dark, clear sky areas are trending among Airbnb guests globally with nearly 3,000 homes listed on the platform offering telescopes
● United States, France and Italy are the three countries with the highest number of listings stargazing-ready on Airbnb .
Trending astro-tourism destinations1 include Antofagasta (327% year on year growth), a Chilean city located next to Atacama desert - home to some of the best telescopes around the world and one of the prime locations to watch the stars. Other trending stargazing destinations include La Palma, Spain (90%), home of GTC, Kiruna, Sweden (134%) and Yarmouth, Canada (221%).
And with almost 3,000 homes listed on the platform offering telescopes , and hosts around the world listing stargazing experiences, guests will be spoilt for choice:
● Stargazing Evening (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)
● A Sky Full of Stars (Milan, Italy)
● Night Sky Photography Adventure (Muriwai, New Zealand)
● Astronomical Experience (Artignosc-sur-Verdon, France)
● Learn Astronomy in the Desert (Joshua Tree, California, USA)
● An Evening of Stargazing and Science (Coogee, Australia)
● Watching the Stars (Seogwipo, South Korea)
● Astronomical Observation from Teide (Tenerife, Spain)
● Shoot the Moon (Santa Monica, California, USA)
● Mauna Kea Stars & Volcano Photo Trip (Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA)