And what exactly is astrotourism?
It is a new way of traveling based on the observation of the starry skies. A new way of promoting tourist destinations and a way of attracting more visitors to places that otherwise would not be considered as a tourist destination.
When we talk about the natural wealth of Aragon we usually think of the landscape, the fauna or places like the Gallocanta lagoon or the Monasterio de Piedra. However, we can also admire this heritage if we raise our heads to the sky, and that is precisely what astrotourism is all about, enjoying the starry nights observing the cosmos. Precisely, the Starlight Foundation recognizes the places where tourism and astronomy go hand in hand and gives them a seal that can boast, in Aragon, the Sierra de Albarracín and the regions of Cuencas Mineras and Gúdar-Javalambre. There, the low light pollution allows you to admire the celestial vault without interference, in addition to enjoying good hotel and catering services.
First of all, if you are looking for the perfect place to enjoy astro-tourism in Aragon, you cannot miss one of the most impressive spectacles offered by the cosmos, the Perseids or Tears of San Lorenzo. We leave you the advice of an expert, Javier Sierra, also in love with the Aragonese skies.
But in addition to the first places we have recommended, there are other areas of the Community to practice astro-tourism as the observatories we want to tell you about. Some are more informative and others are more focused on scientific research, but you will be able to visit them all and learn about the work that is done in them.
Aragon Planetarium (Huesca)
This place is one of the main astronomical values of Aragon. Its aim is to bring astronomy closer to the general public, so numerous activities and guided tours are organized there.
Its planetarium is a 10-meter dome with five projectors in which the universe is recreated and films are projected; it also has an observatory with four telescopes and a 4D simulator for more playful experiences related to space exploration.
Among the many activities it hosts, we want to highlight the ‘Bebenautas’, which aims to awaken scientific curiosity in children between 1 and 5 years, the ‘Moon camping’ in which you will not only observe the stars, you will also sleep under them, and its Museum of mathematics, for you to discover the funniest side of this science.
Galactica Observatory (Arcos de las Salinas, Teruel)
It defines itself as a center for the dissemination and practice of astronomy and offers visitors professional equipment and facilities for observing the sky. Its location is not accidental, it is close to the Javalambre Astrophysical Observatory, which we will tell you about next, and in the surroundings of Arcos de las Salinas, a place without light pollution and with an ideal atmosphere for astronomical observation.
On your astro-tourism visit to Galáctica in Aragón you will surely be impressed by its nine domes, which give it the appearance of a spaceship. Three of them are intended for semi-professional telescopes available to visitors, the rest allow them to install their own equipment. It also has a conference room, an exhibition area and several work rooms.
Javalambre Astrophysical Observatory (Arcos de las Salinas, Teruel)
This is the most scientific facility on this list, but guided tours are also organized to get to know it. It is a project promoted by the CEFCA (Centro de Estudios de Física del Cosmos de Aragón) to elaborate complex maps of the universe through astronomical cartography. All these data are used by scientists from all over the world.
This observatory also collaborates with many universities, national and international, to help in the training of students who want to focus their professional careers on space observation.
Montalbán Astronomical Observatory (Montalbán, Teruel)
It is one of the oldest observatories in Aragon and has a fundamentally informative and educational character, so it is often visited by schools and associations, and hosts various exhibitions, lectures and workshops. In addition to its own facilities for observing the sky, both day and night, the facilities include a digital planetarium where films and photographs on astronomy are projected.
In addition to these observatories, in Aragon there are many hotels and associations that organize activities in which you can also “walk by the stars”, if you want to know them, visit this page.