I’m staring through the lens of a powerful telescope, looking deep into the swirling twinkles that make up the Orion Nebula. My guides in this astrotourism adventure, Dakota Hyde and Reagan Crowley, are telling me the light I’m seeing is from some 1,344 years ago.
Nebulas are star-making factories after all. While this particular nebula is close enough to be seen with the naked eye, checking it out through the telescope is a more intense experience. Doing so lets you see details and colors beyond just white light in the night sky.
The telescope is one of two onsite at the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory (HALO), which is set up inside a silo with a retractable roof on the grounds of the Compass Rose Lodge in Utah’s Ogden Valley. The lodge sits at the edge of International Dark Sky Association designated North Fork Dark Sky Park. This is an area in the Ogden Valley that’s worked hard to preserve its night skies for stargazing by limiting light pollution.
Whether it’s chasing eclipses or the northern lights across the globe, full moon parties in dark sky parks or discovering galaxies far, far away through the lens of a telescope, astrotourism is trending in travel. Some 80 percent of Americans cannot even see the Milky Way, but with these seven hotels, you’ll see the night sky in a brand new light.