Skip to main content

The Milky Way Sparkles Over Portugal's Newest 'Starlight Tourism Destination' (Photo)

This night-sky photo by astrophotographer Miguel Claro reveals a lovely summer scene where the arc of the Milky Way galaxy is shining bright above Pampilhosa da Serra, in Dark Sky Aldeias de Xisto, Portugal. (Image credit: Miguel Claro)

Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory Photo Ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical "skyscapes" that connect Earth and the night sky. Join him here as he takes us through his photograph "Milky Way Shines Above a Brand New Starlight Destination."

A brand-new "astrotourism" destination has just been born in the heart of Portugal. 

Last month, the Starlight Foundation formally certified Dark Sky Aldeias do Xisto (which translates to "Schist Villages") as Portugal's newest official "Starlight Tourist Destination." Spread out across Aldeias do Xisto are 27 small, rural towns that don't generate much light pollution, making this a great place to stargaze without having to venture too far from civilization.

Dark Sky Aldeias do Xisto has joined Dark Sky Alqueva, the first Starlight Tourist Destination in the world, as the second dark-sky site in Portugal to receive this designation from the Starlight Foundation. Dark Sky Alqueva, which became a Starlight Tourist Destination in 2011, recently received a "Tourism Oscar" from the World Travel Awards. 

Related: Magnificent Views of the Nighttime Heavens in Dark Sky Parks

With the "heart" of Aldeias do Xisto located in the municipality of Pampilhosa da Serra, in Portugal's dark and mountainous Coimbra District, the environment in this region is conducive to the contemplation of the firmament that sparkles overhead, reminding us that the starry sky is an intangible heritage without limits or borders of any creed, politics or religion. Through the silence of the night, gazing up at the cosmos can elicit moments of inner reflection, making us more aware of the greatness of the universe around us, and the importance of taking care of our own planet Earth.

The image above reveals a lovely summer scene where the arc of the Milky Way galaxy is shining bright above Pampilhosa da Serra, in Dark Sky Aldeias de Xisto. On the ground, a road directs our vision up toward the horizon and the infinite expanse of space, while a few degrees to the left and above the horizon, a neighboring galaxy known as Andromeda is timidly shining as a diffuse oblong shape.

This shot is the result of a mosaic from 12 single images captured with a Nikon D810a camera, with the ISO set to 2500 and a 14-24mm lens set to 18mm at f/2.8.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night-sky photo you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

To have a print of Claro's amazing astrophotography, visit his Fine Art Print store at Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

All About Space banner

Need more space? You can get 5 issues of our partner "All About Space" Magazine for $5 for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space magazine)

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: