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Check out a galaxy far, far away

At these observatories in or near Seoul

Written by
Suyeon Bock

While stargazing may seem something of an outdated concept in this busy cosmos, there’s something to cosmologist Stephen Hawking’s words: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” With Earth Hour (a worldwide movement to turn off the lights for one hour as a promise to help better the planet) taking place at 8:30pm on March 19th and a penumbral lunar eclipse happening on March 23rd, it seems fitting that stargazing top our list of things to do. In the heart of Seoul, where fog and pollution can often clog up the skies, it may seem like a difficult feat to accomplish. However, at these observatories you can attend programs to learn about the sky, stargaze for hours and even meet experts in astronomy. While programs are solely in Korean, you can grab a friend, make a reservation online and take in as much of the universe as you can.

Fun Facts

1 According to Korean folklore, the shadows of the moon outline a rabbit pounding away on a mortar to make rice cakes.

2 King Sejong was also a leading astronomer who created a system to predict solar and lunar eclipses.

Donga Science Observatory
  • Things to do
While many of their programs are in Korean only, and are geared towards students, they offer bi-monthly events for couples where they can observe the constellations. It’s located in the heart of Seoul. So it’s easy to access.
Gwangjin Youth Center
  • Things to do
Want to do something a bit more educational with your family? This observatory offers a 600m telescope, an indoor/outdoor observatory and a planetarium.
Seoul Observatory
  • Things to do
  • Nowon-gu
Stars are a rare sight in Seoul, but at the observatory in Nowon-gu, you can feast your eyes on a celestial buffet. Visit on Fri, Sat or Sun at 2pm to enter for free, or make a reservation ahead of time to see the spring constellations and the Moon. (spoiler: the surface of the Moon looks like “ojingeo ttangkong”).
Jungmisan Star Observatory
  • Things to do
Though only 40 minutes from Seoul, the Jungmisan Star Observatory boasts that you can see 1,000 times more stars here than in the city.
  • Things to do
Located away from pollution on Mt.Bongnaesan, this is the largest astronomical observatory in Korea. The nation’s largest telescope is located here.
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