It's been 400 years since Galileo first recorded his star-gazing activities and changed our view of the universe. So the UN has made 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. To watch the night sky in style, check into one of these hotels.
Study the southern sky
Northern Chile is "a promised land for astronomers", says Mark Rowe in The Independent. The Elqui Valley offers the best views in the country thanks to "predominantly clear skies, the altitude and the immense distance from the urban visual pollution of smog and light".
To see for yourself, take a two-week tour with Audley Travel, which includes visits to the area's internationally renowned observatories and accommodation at the Hotel Astronomico Elqui Domos, where the centrally heated yurts come with "star-viewing windows", says Sophie Butler in Cond Nast Traveller.
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The tour costs from £4,000 per person with flights. Visit www.audleytravel.com, or call 01993-838 000.
Star gazing among the dunes
The resident astronomer will give you a guided tour of the night sky using a powerful telescope. And when you retire to your room you can continue to star gaze from your king-sized bed thanks to the skylights above.
Doubles cost from £350 at the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge with &BEYOND Africa. Visit www.andbeyondafrica.com, or call 00 27 11 809 4300.
Sleeping under the Northern Lights
The Hotel & Igloo Village Kakslauttanen in Finnish Lapland offers the perfect setting for studying the night sky. Some of the igloos have thermo-glass walls. This means the igloo remains toasty warm, but you can still gaze out at the aurora borealis from your bed, which you can adjust at the touch of a button to make sure you get the best view, says Minty Clinch in The Observer.
During the day brief as it is in winter you can take a reindeer or husky safari, try snowmobiling, ice swimming or ice carving.
A night in a glass igloo with dinner, bed and breakfast costs from e384. Visit www.kakslauttanen.fi, or call 00 358 16 667 100 for more.
Learn about the universe's evolution
The package costs from £2,350pp. Visit www.cadoganholidays.com, or call 0845-6154390.
Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.
Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.
Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.
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