Stargazing is as popular now as it was in ancient times when people looked to the heavens for inspiration and comfort. Today, lunar events, once-in-a-lifetime cosmic phenomenon, and simple, old-school star-gazing have captured the imaginations of a whole new class of global tourist. Conditions for contemplating the heavens aren't exactly ideal in most of the developed modern world; there are locations which, thanks to limited light pollution and elevated or obstruction-free vantage points, are becoming go-to destinations.

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01Atacama Desert, Chile

The clear, arid conditions of Chile's Atacama desert make this mountain-ringed area east of Santiago popular for star-gazing. In fact, several observatories are operating here, including the international Llano de Chajnantor. It's possible to tour the facility and check out the massive ALMA telescope and antenna array on certain days of the week. Or, you can arrange a star tour in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Atacama desert starscapes in Chile. abriendomundo / Getty Images