What qualifies as a good place for stargazing, i.e. with least light pollution?
I know that minimal light pollution is a must for stargazing, and a place which is away from civilization is better.
Does altitude of a place matter for light pollution?
Does it affect the quality of star gazing?
A good question, and in the early 2000s John Bortle published a categorization of a variety of conditions, with descriptions for each category. It is the commonly used scale to describe to others the sort of conditions at a location.
Probably one of the more significant factors provided by a dark sky site is: how faint do stars have to be for you not to see them anymore (overwhelmed by light pollution). There are specific stellar regions, each a triangle, and the idea is you could how many stars you can see in the triangle, and you look the number up in a table, and it will tell you the magnitude limit you are perceiving at that site.
Yes, high altitudes also help - less air between you and the stars means better seeing conditions/less atmospheric distortion.
Being able to see more stars IS better for star gazing. Living in a city, I am continually frustrated at the poor skies, and love being in dark sky locations like the International Dark Skies Reserve at Tekapo, New Zealand.
I should observe that high altitude observatories are usually there to benefit from the thin atmosphere, but they also happen to be far from cities, which is a not really a coincidence - the combination makes a great site.
Nice answer. I share your frustration of having poor skies. I too live in a city. Could you provide a link to that table containing the no. of stars? Btw what is it called?
It is called 'determining the limiting magnitude' : http://www.project-nightflight.net/limiting_mag.pdf or http://www.imo.net/visual/major/observation/lm are examples.