The European Destinations Where Light Pollution Is the Lowest

A new study analyzed NASA VIIRS data to come up with the top countries for stargazers.

Ilya Dubovsky/500px/Getty Images
Ilya Dubovsky/500px/Getty Images
Ilya Dubovsky/500px/Getty Images

Europe is truly a travel gem, so it’s no wonder that it actually shines brighter than most destinations. Puns aside (please, forgive me), it’s actually true.

According to the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association, Europe is, in fact, the most light-polluted continent in the world, which isn’t great for all space enthusiasts and stargazers out there. To give you a bit more context, according to another study by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic, more than 99% of Europeans live under an illuminated sky at night (compared to over 80% of people in the rest of the world).

But not all hopes are lost, and both Europe-based and Europe-bound stargazers can sigh in relief. Cruise Croatia just analyzed NASA VIIRS data for European countries, and it calculated the average light sources per country’s square kilometer. What did the team find with that, you ask? They found how light-polluted each country’s sky is, on average, and then they proceeded to rank them to come up with the top 15 least light-polluted countries in Europe.

If you’re guessing that northern European countries probably take the cake, you’re correct. Latvia sits at the absolute top with only 1.08 light sources per square kilometer. Cruise Croatia also identified the best spot in Latvia to stargaze, where the light pollution is at its absolute lowest in the country. That happens to be the Gaiziņkalns mountain range, which is the highest point in the country.

Second on the list was Norway, which flaunts 1.29 light sources per square kilometer. If you’re planning to head there soon to stargaze, Cruise Croatia suggests you head over to Varanger (which is one of the most northern areas in the country) to gasp at a wonderful sight of the Milky Way, which passes just above and is clearly visible on a clear night.

In third place was Lithuania and its 1.31 light sources per square kilometer. For the best stargazing experience there, you should head over to the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory to see the biggest scientific telescope in Northern Europe.

Take a look at the top 15 least light-polluted destinations in Europe below:

1. Latvia
2. Norway
3. Lithuania
4. Sweden
5. Finland
6. Estonia
7. Bulgaria
8. Romania
9. Ireland
10. Austria
11. Denmark
12. Slovakia
13. Hungary
14. Slovenia
15. Croatia

For more information and to read the complete study, you can visit this website.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in and stream the northern lights from home. If you’re just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Mad Mex’s New Menu Item Is Inspired by a Popular Mexican Street Food

mad mex chicken al pastor

Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.

Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.

You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.

As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.

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