The Best Places for Stargazing
Time Your Stargazing
- The full moon on an open prairie can be pretty, but with all that light a full moon can wreck a stargazing trip and almost obliterate a meteor shower. Check a lunar calender before making a two-hour drive to the local observatory. Anything larger than a crescent moon will put a serious crimp in the finer details of the night sky. Also be aware of any non-celestial events that can cause light pollution. If the local college football team has a night game, a stadium full of fluorescent lights can extend a city's light signature significantly.
Over The Seas
- While not an option for most people, those with access to a seaworthy boat can get a wide-open, unrestricted and, most important, a really, really dark view of the night sky. The farther away from land you can get, the fewer opportunities for light to invade the sky. Just remember when sailing at night to always wear a lifeline and life jacket.
Wide Open Places
- While lacking the urban style of the East Coast, living west of the Mississippi River, especially on the plains, affords many more opportunities to get away from civilization. While hitting the blue highways doesn't offer the same guarantees as open water does for getting away from people, it often is easy to leave the lights behind and find a field, dirt road or lonely place to enjoy the sky.
Follow the Pros
- Check online or at a local library to see if there is an observatory in the area. Observatories are by necessity secluded and dark, so even if it is a bit of a drive, chances are it will be a worthwhile haul. For a closer alternative, check a nearby university or community college for an astronomy club.