Belize is an ideal destination for a clear view of the stars.
Stargazing is an old age tradition, but for many, a clear view of the sky is becoming rare. According to research published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, more than 80% of world populations live under light-polluted skies. For the US and Europe, this figure exceeds 99%. In many places, city lights make it nearly impossible to see the stars clearly – especially with the naked eye. Luckily for those traveling in Belize, finding a dark site to view the night sky is never out of reach.
Historically, the lights in the night sky were crucial for those inhabiting Belize. The ancient Maya are famous for their calendar system which was precisely calibrated with the sun and stars. A clear view of these celestial beacons also played a major role for sailors during colonial times. Once outside the reef, ship captains depended on the positioning of the sun and stars to navigate the Atlantic. This enabled the Baymen to export logwood, chicle and other goods to Europe.
Today, satellite GPS and other digital tools replace star-based compasses and calendars. However, many still find stargazing relaxing, and even therapeutic. In fact, a recent study published by the American Psychological Association shows that awe-inspiring activities like stargazing can be linked with generosity, and serve a vital social function.
In other words, stargazing is good for you.
Belize has a low population density with little industrial development. There is little to no light pollution in much of the country. Whether jungle or coast, stargazing in Belize is often as easy as stepping out into the night air.
As you explore Belize and beyond, don’t miss out on your chance to gaze into the heavens with a crystal clear view of the stars.
Here are a few excellent options to get you started!
- The small island of Caye Caulker is ideal for stargazing. The pervading “go slow” attitude for which Caye Caulker is famous. It carries into the evening as locals and travelers alike lean back in their hammocks and lift their eyes to the skies, to witness the twinkling stars.
- For a more active starlight experience, travelers can head out to sea with one of many sunset sailing cruises offered along Belize’s coastline. Soon after the sun sets, the stars begin to shine in all their brilliance and the clarity of the night sky from a boat can be unparalleled.
- Inland, many jungle resorts offer sunset and stargazing decks. These raised platforms are engineered to peek through the jungle canopy to give guests a grand view of the night sky.
Check out this constellation guide to help you as you gaze up into the Belizean night sky.
Original Article By G. Michael Bowen