Lonely Planet Writer

One of the world's most isolated places wants to become a dark sky sanctuary

It is one of the most isolated places in the world … no surprise then that it’s one of the best places on the globe to see the wonders of the Milky Way. Now the Pitcairn Islands, more than 500 kilometres from their nearest populated neighbour, are hoping to be officially named a dark sky sanctuary.

This is one of the most isolated places on earth. Image by Pitcairn Islands Tourism

The designation is specially reserved for places in which star-gazers can see the night sky without any interference whatsoever from light pollution. There are currently just three dark sky sanctuaries internationally: New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island, the Cosmic Campground in the USA, and Gabriela Mistral in Chile. The Pitcairn Islands are home to only fifty people and have a volcanic landscape that provides a variety of dramatic viewing points. Local guides will be trained on identifying planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies, as well as providing information on black holes, quasars, and general cosmology.

Aerial shot of Pitcairn. Image by RSPB

The island’s travel coordinator Heather Menzies said: “Pitcairn has amazing dark skyscapes. As part of our commitment to protecting our environment, we aim to curate a world-class night sky-viewing experience. Being such a pristine and remote island, our natural amphitheatre will provide an ideal location for intrepid Astro visitors.” As well as their incredibly clear skies, Pitcairn is also well known for the pristine Pacific waters that surround them. The waters around the island form part of the third largest marine protected area in the world.

The Milky Way as seen from Pitcairn. Image by Rhiannon Adam

The islands are most famous as one of the places settled by the men from the most famous mutiny in history, the Mutiny on the Bounty. Located halfway between New Zealand and Peru, the Pitcairn islands remain one of the most remote and undiscovered tourism destinations in the world. Access is via a quarterly shipping service that offers twelve round trips annually between Mangareva in French Polynesia and Pitcairn Island.