The artist Vincent Van Gogh once wrote: ‘For my part I know nothing with any certainty. But the sight of the stars makes me dream.’ Gozo, is synonymous with pristine beaches and crystal blue seas, lively festas and historic landscapes. Yet, when the night falls, another amazing spectacle awaits – a star-lit sky that can be enjoyed from various locations around the island. This week VisitGozo celebrates Gozo as a great constellation destination!
Because Gozo is a small island with a rugged, unspoilt and under-developed coastline, it gives nature lovers, stargazers and astronomers the rare chance to witness the most amazing dark skies over an open sea. Certain areas within Gozo are ideal for stargazing as they have very little light pollution. This makes it far easier to spot and identify constellations while acknowledging the glory and vastness of our universe.
Locations such as Dwejra are a fantastic place to see stars, planets, space stations, the annual Perseid meteor showers, eclipses and of course The Milky Way over Fungus Rock.
While witnessing the night sky in Dwejra, appreciate the fact that you are actually in a rare location where you can still see The Milky Way in all its glory, experiencing this amazing galaxy that hasn’t been visible in London for over 40 years.
In fact, the area around Dwejra Tower has been designated as a Natura 2000 site. (Natura 2000 is a core network of breeding and nesting habitats for rare and threatened species, stretching across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea). This important site also has Dark Sky Heritage Area (DSHA) status, which is intended to recognise and protect regions that exhibit low levels of light pollution. Dwejra, a site of scientific, natural, educational, and cultural importance, has beautiful starry nights to offer.
For this reason, Dwejra Tower often co-hosts stargazing events with Maltese astronomy expert, Dr Joseph Caruana from the University of Malta.
Maybe your astronomy knowledge is a little lacking and you can only confidently identify The Plough or Orion’s Belt – whatever your level of expertise, there is something very humbling about looking up at the dark skies and seeing the complexity of our universe laid out before you with its infinite constellations. You never know, you may even get to make a wish on a shooting star.
Gilbert Vancell is a landscape astrophotographer from Malta, who often travels to Gozo to photograph the wonders of our universe and says, “There are so many great locations for stargazing in Gozo: Dwejra, Wardija Point, Ghajn Barrani, Rdum il-Kbir, Pinu Point (Mielah Window), Hekka Point, St. Dimitri Point.”
He says: “I enjoy the tranquility of spending time in the peace and quiet, listening to the sea or night creatures, like the Shearwater sea birds who return to their nests at night. I’ve had some truly memorable moments in Gozo. Once I was shooting Quarantids meteor shower in January and a fireball (a big meteor) flamed just above me to the left over Gozo. I will never forget the brief hissing sound of it flaming through the atmosphere.
On another time, in August I was recording Perseids over the Fungus Rock and by absolute fluke managed to record a smoke trail from a meteor.”
To witness what Gilbert saw – watch it for yourself here:
If you are keen to experience the beauty of Gozo’s night skies for yourself, then get booking your vacation now. To quote artist Vincent Van Gogh once more, who said: ‘Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.’
With thanks to: Dr Joseph Caruana, University of Malta, Gilbert Vancell and Simon Wallace at Dwejra Tower