For visitors, star-gazing in Thailand can be a revelation. Astronomy is one of the kingdom's favourite pastimes, brought to the country from Europe by one of its greatest kings, King Rama IV, or King Mongkut. The revered monarch was so enthused with this new knowledge that he ordered an observatory built at his hilltop palace in Phetchaburi Province. He quickly became adept and predicted a total solar eclipse near Prachuab Khiri Khan on August 18, 1868.
a great expedition was organised to which many foreign scientists were invited. There, the king's prediction was dramatically confirmed - a sixminute solar eclipse that had the court astrologers calling out in awe.
Almost everyone was sceptical, including the court astrologers who believed such an event was impossible. So
Today star-gazing is very popular and practiced by anyone with a telescope or binoculars. Many of the country's national parks organise stargazing activities and you can even join the Thai Astronomical Society on one of their regular trips. These usually go to a remote location such as a hilltop in a national park or an island in the Gulf where the night sky is at its clearest.
You can bring your own equipment or use their giant telescope. Or of course you could follow in the hallowed footsteps of King Mongkut. His Phetchaburi observatory is open to the public and so is Phra Chomklao Science Museum at Wah Kor in the adjacent Prachuap Khiri Khan Province