Stargazing in Chile’s Atacama Desert

I remember being in California, doing a road trip down Highway 1 from San Francisco, where we were caught in Big Sur after dark and the stars were so bright that they felt like they were coming down on us. It was borderline claustrophobic and yet oh-so-amazing at the same time.

Recently, when I was in Chile, I realized Big Sur isn’t the only place on earth this happens!

During my stay at the Alto Atacama, I participated in their nighttime stargazing excursion for guests which actually takes place on their property. It includes a short hike away from all the main buildings up into the hills to a plateau where a telescope is set up and the lights of the resort seem very far off in the distance. Flood lights help lead the way and day beds are placed in a semi circle so you can lay down and truly feel close to the night sky. But of course, the minute the flood lights were turned out, and my eyes had adjusted, I leapt up from the day bed and turned my camera to the sky. The show was quite simply: SPECTACULAR.

Unfortunately, I don’t think my pictures quite do the experience justice. But I’m still learning about this photographic technique and this experience was actually my first time ever trying to capture the stars at night!

stargazingchileatacamadesertkirstenalananx1two stargazingchileatacamadesertkirstenalananx1three stargazingchileatacamadesertkirstenalananx1four

To book your stay at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa, begin on their website. LAN Airlines offers direct flights to Santiago from NYC five days per week, a separate flight from Santiago to Calama is easy to book, also through LAN.

My experience in Chile was sponsored by LAN Airlines and was part of their campaign using the hashtag #OnlyInSouthAmerica. However, I was not compensated for sharing this post and all opinions are my own.

All images captured with the Samsung NX1 and 16-50mm lens.

  • August 17, 2015

    Wow, the sky looks breathtaking!! So many stars.

  • August 20, 2015

    Beautiful photos! I’m also working on my night sky technique, I’d love to know what settings you used for these shots.

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