Under a Namibian Night Sky

Stargazers and amateur astronomers the world over flock to Namibia to view the night skies.  Why you may ask Namibia?  Well Namibia has very low air pollution as well as virtually non-existent light pollution at night because of a very low population, making parts of Namibia the darkest on earth.

One of the best places to view Namibia’s stars is a “table” mountain named Gamsberg.

The best time to go stargazing in Namibia is in the winter months.  Although the nights will be rather chilly, the skies will be at their clearest.  The stars will be absolutely mesmerizing with the Milky Way taking centre stage.  As the sun sets the sky will come alive with stellar clusters, galaxies, planets and even shooting stars!!

If you are on a self-tour and have no guide to help you recognize the different constellations, be sure to purchase a simple book about the southern night sky to help you with identification.  The Crux and Southern Cross will be very visible and recognizable and well as Orion and Scorpio.  Although a telescope is ideal for looking at the night sky, because of the purity of the Namibian night sky, a good quality binoculars are more than sufficient for the amateur stargazer.


During the months of March – September, when on a Namibia safari, be on the lookout for the following in the night skies.

  1. Milky Ways Bright Centre

Easily found with the naked eye, find the Summer Triangle, and it’s an upside down triangle.  Then follow the Milky Way from Deneb up to Altair and across the zenith, through Sagittarius, down to Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross.

  1. Alpha Centauri

A star that is closest to the sun is one of the reasons to gaze at the southern night sky.  Alpha Centauri is the third brightest star in the sky and just 4.3 light years from Earth and a true anchor for southern stargazers.

  1. Southern Pointers

At 390 lighter years away, Beta Centauri is close to Alpha Centauri and almost as bright.  Together Alpha and Beta Centauri are known as the Southern Pointers.   These two stars point to Crux (Southern Cross).  Once you found it you will never forget where it is.

  1. Crux (Southern Cross)

The Southern Cross is possibly the most famous sight and will appear small to first time viewers.  The Southern Cross is often mistaken for the much larger False Cross.

  1. Jewel Box

All you need to see the Jewel Box is binoculars.  This is a bright cluster that is found close to the Southern Cross.  Once found you will see 100 twinkling red and blue stars.

  1. Coalsack Nebula

Just below the Jewel Box Cluster, is a dark band that crosses the Milky Way.  If you thinking there is nothing to see, that is just it, you found it.  600 light years away, the Coalsack Nebula is an interstellar dust cloud that actually blocks the light from the stars behind it from reaching us.  With good binoculars you can probably see faint stars “with-in” the Coalsack.  Actually these stars are in front of the Coalsack.