While many small or emerging territories are attempting to industrialize and vault themselves into modernity, others are trying to stay in the dark ages — literally. The Pitcairn Islands, the last British Overseas Territory, is attempting to become a Dark Sky Sanctuary by the end of 2018. A Dark Sky Sanctuary is a “public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights.” With zero light pollution, Dark Sky Sanctuaries are ideal for stargazing.
The geography and demography of Pitcairn make it uniquely suitable for becoming a Dark Sky Sanctuary. Only 50 people live on the main island, which is only two miles long, and 300 miles away from the nearest landmass. Heather Menzies, Pitcairn Travel Coordinator, told Travel + Leisure that “the wonderful isolation and lack of light pollution across all four islands in the Pitcairn group will make our sanctuary status truly special.”
For the residents of Pitcairn, becoming the world’s fifth Dark Sky Sanctuary is about more than just bragging rights “We deeply value our unparalleled view of the universe,” Menzies said, “but we also benefit from the physical and psychological well-being that a truly dark sky affords all living beings.”
If you’re a stargazer looking to add Pitcairn to your list and want to ensure clear skies while you’re there, avoid the rainy season from November to March. You should also prepare to spend three days on a boat, as the only way to access Pitcairn is aboard the MV Claymore II, a passenger and supply vessel.
To really get the ultimate stargazing experience, you’ll also have to visit the other four dark Sky Sanctuaries: the Great Barrier Island in New Zealand, the Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah, the Gabriela Mistral Dark Sky Sanctuary in Chile, and Cosmic Campground in New Mexico.