Experiencing the night skies of Mongolia – one of the best experiences you can have …as long as the weather behaves!
Did you know that no part of Mongolia has been designated a dark sky reserve, park or community? Now you do.
However, Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the world and said to be one of the (if not the) least densely populated countries in the world. If you’ve been there, you’ll agree with the statistics without even looking into the details. We’re talking glorious empty space.
True, if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar then your view of the night sky won’t be so impressive. After all, nearly half of Mongolia’s entire population of 3 million live in Ulaanbataar (roughly 1.3 million). That’s a whole heap of artificial light and other forms of pollution to cloud your view. (Of course, you could head to the Khurel Togoot Astronomical Observatory (trying saying that after a cup of Mongolian yak milk vodka) for uninterrupted night sky views).
Another challenge can be the unpredictable weather. Mongolia is said to experience four seasons in one day (I sense a nodding of heads from those that have travelled there). We’ve all been there. In blows a windstorm. Or thick mist. Or driving rain. Something to but a ‘dampener’ on your plans. Still, moving on.
As long as the moon is either side of being full, then wrap yourself up warm and be prepared to be amazed because when the sky is clear, Mongolia is almost unrivalled as a stargazing destination. At least it must firmly make the top ten.
Of course, if you do go star gazing with a Mongolian be prepared for some spitting. What? In Mongolia, a shooting star is seen as an omen of death (yes, really). In shamanism, each star represents a person. We each have an energy line and a shooting star is that person’s energy line dying out. If a Mongolian sees a shooting star they will basically spit and say ‘it’s not mine.’ It doesn’t make for the most romantic of evenings.
Still, wrap up warm and brave the elements for a spectacular night time show. Look out for Altan Gadaz (the north star), Doloon Burkhan (the Seven Gods – the Plough), Migid or Mushin (the Pleiades), Tengerin Zaadas (the Milky Way) and the beautiful Uuriin Tsolmon (morning star).
Looking at the night skies in Mongolia really does give you a healthy sense of wonder. The catch? Mongolia is not exactly a convenient destination —but isn’t that kind of the point?
Unless I have mentioned otherwise, all images used throughout this post were taken either by EL guests or members of the EL team. This is the Mongolia you will also experience if you chose to travel with us.
Thanks for listening as always. Jess