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Iceland isn’t just famous for its geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes. The country also offers some of the world’s best opportunities for stargazing. What’s more, Hotel Rangá is considered one of the top locations for stargazing in all of Iceland. This guide to stargazing in Iceland will take you through the essentials, from the best spot to see the stars to the equipment you might need.
When is the best time to go stargazing in Iceland?
With its long nights, winter is the prime time for stargazing. We specifically recommend that you book a trip to Hotel Rangá any time between September to April. During this period, darkness descends early, giving you ample time to gaze at the stars.
Can you go stargazing in Iceland during the summer?
Unlike most of the world, it is not possible to go stargazing in Iceland during the summertime. This is due to a phenomenon known as the midnight sun. Because Iceland is located so close to the arctic circle, we experience almost 24/7 daylight during the summer. So if you are hoping to see the stars, book your trip to Hotel Rangá in the fall or winter months. However, Icelandic summers are perfect for sungazing!
What is sungazing at Hotel Rangá?
It is unsafe to stare directly at the sun. However, the Hotel Rangá Observatory has special equipment to properly observe the sun. We do this by attaching a white light solar filter in front of our telescopes. The filters allow us to see sunspots on the visible surface of the sun.
We also have a specialized solar telescope that shows us the sun through one particular wavelength emitted by hydrogen, which is in the red part of the spectrum. Through it, the sun looks red; however, that red light gives us a glimpse of incredible prominences and filaments rising from the sun. The sun is absolutely beautiful to look at through telescopes. If you are interested in going sungazing while staying at Hotel Rangá please contact the Hotel Rangá reception.
What kind of weather forecast is essential for stargazing in Iceland?
In order to see the stars, we need to experience clear skies. However, Icelandic weather can be notoriously unpredictable. As a result, we often recommend that our guests book several days at Hotel Rangá. We even have several special offers that are especially suited for stargazers. Booking one of these offers will give you more opportunities to experience a clear night sky filled with millions of glowing stars.
Why is Hotel Rangá the best place to go stargazing in Iceland?
We may be biased, but we firmly believe that Hotel Rangá is the best location to go stargazing in Iceland. First, Hotel Rangá is located in the Icelandic countryside, far away from light pollution. In larger Icelandic towns and villages, overhead street lights and lit buildings brighten the night sky. As a result, it is difficult to see the stars, including more subtle details like far away planets and even galaxies.
Though our property is located in the countryside, it is easy to access. In fact, we are located just off road 1–Iceland’s main road that traverses most of the country’s perimeter. Our property feels private but not too remote, thus making it a perfect place to look at the star-filled night sky.
What’s more, Hotel Rangá is home to our very own observatory. The Rangá Observatory stands about 150 m (492 ft) from Hotel Rangá and houses two excellent telescopes. These telescopes are top of the line, making it possible to see far-away objects with excellent detail and sharpness.
Furthermore, on clear nights from September to April, we invite a local astronomer to take our guests on a tour of the night sky. These experts will help you to use the high-tech telescopes to see the treasures of the heavens. You will also learn stories about the stars that date back hundreds of years.
Luxury in the Icelandic Countryside
Not only is Hotel Rangá an excellent place to go stargazing, it is also a luxurious and comfortable place to relax and indulge. Our 51 rooms and suites offer lovely views of the countryside, as well as cozy beds and excellent amenities. From our geothermal hot tubs to our well-stocked Rangá Bar and entertaining game room, we do our utmost to make your stay the best experience possible.
Hotel Rangá is also home to the Rangá Restaurant which offers guests access to a gourmet dining experience. Enjoy local Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist. For a starter, try our famous wild mushroom soup made with pickled local mushrooms. The Icelandic lamb is always a favorite; however, we also offer delicious vegan options.
Instead of driving out on your own to search for the stars, simply use Hotel Rangá as your home base. Wait for night to fall while you sip on a delicious cocktail or dine at the Rangá Restaurant. Then walk to the Rangá Observatory to explore the night sky with a helpful guide. For a different perspective of the stars, end your night with a glass of champagne in the Hotel Rangá hot tubs.
What should I wear to go stargazing in Iceland?
The Icelandic fall and winter can get quite chilly! It is always a good idea to wear warm thermal layers, cozy socks, a warm hat and gloves. You should wear a warm coat and sturdy shoes. Still feeling a little chilly? Not to worry–Hotel Rangá offers our guests the use of warm snowsuits and cozy blankets. And of course, there is always the option of ordering a spiked hot chocolate at the Rangá Bar. That will surely warm you up!
Stargazing and Sustainability
Whether you are gazing at the stars near Hotel Rangá or elsewhere in Iceland, we ask that you respect the environment. Do not litter, stay on marked paths and leave no trace behind. Hotel Rangá is passionate about sustainability, and we do our utmost to practice green hotel policies. Learn more about our sustainability practices here.
Is it possible to use Hotel Rangá’s telescopes for astrophotography?
Yes! Hotel Rangá’s two telescopes are set up for astrophotography. We have a Celestron Edge HD Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector and a TEC 160ED APO refractor on a Astrophysics 900 mount. If you are interested in astrophotography, please contact our Hotel Rangá reception. We can give you additional information about astrophotography at Hotel Rangá.
In Iceland, can I see the northern lights and the stars at the same time?
Yes–it is possible to stargaze and see the northern lights at the same time. If the skies are clear and dark, there is often a good chance that the northern lights might appear – check auroraforecast.is to see the current conditions. However, a very bright aurora can create a glow in the sky that can affect the visibility of more distant celestial objects. Northern lights can also affect astrophotography; some photographers welcome the unique effects, but others prefer a clear sky when shooting the stars.
Iceland offers a mesmerizing stargazing experience that’s hard to rival. With its vast landscapes, minimal light pollution, and the dance of the northern lights, it’s a haven for both amateur and seasoned stargazers. What’s more, Hotel Rangá offers the perfect environment for stargazing in Iceland. Our countryside property offers guests the best in luxury, top of the line telescopes and excellent stargazing conditions.The Icelandic sky promises a celestial show that’s bound to leave you in awe.