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Where to Stargaze

Visitors gather beneath the night sky
Darkness masks hundreds of visitors gathered beneath the night sky in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo by Kevin Doxstater.

A whole new world comes alive at night and is waiting to be explored. When you head out at night to stargaze, take your family or friends with you, be prepared for a cool night, and let your eyes adjust to the wonder above. Here are some ideas to make your experience memorable:

At Home

Sleep in your backyard on a starlit night. Watch the stars and planets move across the night sky.

Make a red flashlight. Use red paper or cellophane to cover a white flashlight. This will help you navigate at night without compromising your night vision!

Can you see the stars as well in your backyard with the porch light on? Try different light bulbs, even different light fixtures, so that you can see the stars better. Warm, amber colors are soft on the eyes.

Around Town

From an open field or park, find the Big Dipper.The last two stars in the cup of the Big Dipper point to the North Star, which is just a bit dimmer than the individual stars in the Big Dipper.

Attend your local astronomy club's next public "star party." There you can find amateur astronomers sharing views through their telescopes.

Next time you are riding in a car, look closely at the outdoor lights. Do some shine in your eyes more than others? Can you find a light that only shines downward? Learn more about night sky friendly lighting.

In the Wilderness

National parks are great places to get to know the animals that are nocturnal—wildlife that is awake at night and asleep during the day. Sit quietly and listen for these creatures.

Look for the Milky Way stretching across the night sky. What looks like a faint cloud is actually the light from millions and millions of distant stars. The Milky Way is our home galaxy and is best seen in summer and fall evening skies.

If the full moon is up, the Milky Way will be hard to see. Try going for a night hike instead! Let your eyes adjust to the moonlight and keep your flashlight turned off (but available for safety if needed).

In a National Park

Many national parks offer night sky programs. The following partial list of parks will give a head start in your search:

Explore additional night sky park events on NightSkyParks.orgs.

More Night

Check out these other useful night sky resources and best pratices for night sky friendly lighting.

Last Updated: April 04, 2016