astronomy What are the best places to observe stars from our category?

In summer, many stars are visible to the naked eye. We can even expect to see shooting stars, those meteors that light up as they pass through the atmosphere. When they pass right over our heads, they are easier to observe. On the other hand, the more one looks at the horizon, the more blurred the vision becomes, disturbed by the rays of light coming from the city.

According to the National Observatory of Biodiversity, 81% of the national land area is plagued by light pollution. Obstruction to sky observation and irony for some creatures whose bearings are upset. This light pollution includes public and private lights and traffic. Homo sapiens gradually tamed the night to be able to live there like daylight. Even when you stand in the middle of nature, away from built-up areas, distant lights illuminate the horizon.

To limit this phenomenon, it is recommended to move away from the light source as much as possible and gain altitude. What better, then, to try the experience than the alpine sector. The most daring will opt for night hiking using headlamps. Others will choose areas accessible by car, spending several kilometers through winding roads.

The Alps are largely protected from light pollution

Satellite Image: Google Earth

There are maps that let you know the dark spots near you. These maps correspond to those that depict population density Thus the Alpine arc is well endowed with areas not polluted by light. Especially in rural areas such as the east of Savoie or the high-alpine and low-alpine massifs.

Of course, for a successful stargazing experience, you need to go on a cloudless evening and take into account the lunar cycle to prevent the full moon from obscuring your vision.

Here are some examples of ideal places for summer stargazing:

The light of Geneva does not reach the summit of the Jura.

The light of Geneva does not reach the summit of the Jura.

the law

The National Nature Reserve of the Haut Chain du Jura offers many vantage points for stargazing. The Jura Massif acts as a natural barrier with the nearby Geneva conurbation, a vector of light pollution.

To observe the stars you need to go east of Annecy.

To observe the stars you need to go east of Annecy.

Haute-Savoie

Here, it is recommended to move away from large cities such as Annecy, as well as populated valleys such as Arves. The Bornes Massif and Aravis Range have a variety of road passes and villages from which it is easy to observe the sky.

Light pollution is widespread in the valley but not in the Chartreuse and Bages massifs.

Light pollution is widespread in the valley but not in the Chartreuse and Bages massifs.

savoy

Savoie, more rural than its neighbor Haute-Savoie, has many places to enjoy a dark night. Just 30 minutes from Chambéry, the La Doriaz car park at an altitude of 1100 meters is a good starting point to admire the heavenly vault. Savoyards can also go to the heart of the Beaufortain or Vanoise massifs, which are less populated and therefore less affected by light pollution.

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Grenoble Y is more visible at night.

Grenoble Y is more visible at night.

Isere

The characteristic Y shape of the Grenoble metropolis is especially visible at night. But locals can enjoy a very dark place in Chartreuse, a few kilometers away from the agglomeration. The pre-Alpine massif is a perfect wall against the onslaught of light from Gracievaudan and the neighboring towns of Chambery and Grenoble.

Diois full of dark places at night.

Diois full of dark places at night.

drome

South of the Vercors massif enjoys a privileged location away from major cities. With a little elevation, towards the commune of the plateau, one finds many places from which the curious can see the sky.

Monts d'Ardèche and Ardèche Cévènes are safe from the city lights.

Monts d’Ardèche and Ardèche Cévènes are safe from the city lights.

have seen

Almost all categories are recognized to allow stargazing. But in the Cévennes part you will find the best places on the border of Garde.

Star of the Col des Presses at the Savoy.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Star of the Col des Presses at the Savoy. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

A starry night at Mont Ventoux.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

A starry night at Mont Ventoux. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Aerial observation from Les Deserts with Lac du Bourget in the background.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Aerial observation from Les Deserts with Lac du Bourget in the background. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

The Milky Way over Beaufort from La Leggett in Les Cyces.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

The Milky Way over Beaufort from La Leggett in Les Cyces. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Our Galaxy and the Ecrins Massif from Galibier Pass.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Our Galaxy and the Ecrins Massif from Galibier Pass. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

The Milky Way over Mount Grenier.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

The Milky Way over Mount Grenier. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Arves needles.  Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

Arves needles. Photo by The DL / Frederic Chiola

The Milky Way over the Hospice du Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard FC.jpg

The Milky Way over the Hospice du Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard FC.jpg

Col du Galibier is a popular spot for photographers.

Col du Galibier is a popular spot for photographers.

high mountain

In the department, there are many high-altitude observation posts, such as Saint-Véran or Moydans, where the famous Barronies Provençales observatory is located (see map above). The well-preserved Akrins National Park also has the advantage of high altitude and low light pollution. Easily accessible by car, the famous Col du Galibier is a great place to indulge in night photography, with La Meize in the background.

The Valensole Plateau offers views of about 5 different sections.

The Valensole Plateau offers views of about 5 different sections.

Alpes de Haute Provence

Like Ecrins National Park, Mercantur is an area protected from all pollution, including light pollution. The department has many astronomical observatories such as Haute-Provence, Mont-Chiran, Puimichel, Mount Lour and Saint-Michel-l’Observatory. Moreover, in the southwest of the department, the Valensole Plateau combines all the conditions for perfect stargazing. At an average altitude of 500 meters, the site offers views of the Sainte-Beaume and Sainte-Victoire massifs as well as the Luberon, the Lure mountains, Dévoluy, the Dignes pre-Alps and Mount Chiran.

Lagarde-d'Apt, the highest village in the Vaucluse, escapes light pollution.

Lagarde-d’Apt, the highest village in the Vaucluse, escapes light pollution.

Vaucluse

The Luberon’s gentle relief allows you to gain a little elevation to mount your telescope. And it is in the highest town of the department, Lagarde-d’Aupte, that the Cyrene observatory is located. An ideal place to admire different constellations.

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