Babak Tafreshi/National Geographic Creative—Corbis

The immensity of the universe is beautiful and humbling—the stars reminders of billions of lives spent, in astronomer Carl Sagan’s words, “on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.” But as our population grows, so too does light pollution, clouding the atmosphere and all that lies beyond it. Today, as few as 500 stars are visible from many urban areas.

But happily that’s just not the case for these dozen locales, where as many as 15,000 individual pinpricks of light can be seen with the naked eye. The catch? They’re not exactly convenient—but that’s kind of the point.

Attention astrologers and contemplators of the universe: these are the planet’s best spots for stargazing.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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