These Are Some Of The Best Places For Stargazing In The U.S.

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Travel

Stars, moons, planets and galaxies were the hot topics of conversation after NASA released jaw-dropping new photos from the James Webb Space Telescope earlier this summer. But, outside of the occasional release of new space photos, it can be hard to truly appreciate the night sky.Advertisement“There’s a reason why everybody’s not a stargazer,” said Ken Walczak, senior manager for Far Horizons at Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “One hundred years ago, everybody was a stargazer, because 100 years ago [was] before the rampant advent of outdoor electric lighting.” Walczak added that, at one time, everyone could see the Milky Way from their yard ― now, it’s more of a challenge. For those who do want to see the Milky Way, or other items in the night sky, there are ways to do so. Here are some great travel destinations for seeing stars, planets and nebulae, along with stargazing tips from experts. Tom Schelling via Getty ImagesState and national parks are often great places to visit for prime views of the night sky.Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, Pennsylvania “In Pennsylvania, there’s a really well-known location here called Cherry Springs State Park,” said Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. “They are set up specifically for telescopic observers.”AdvertisementHe added that the park is so outfitted for stargazers that if you get there after dark, you’ll see what looks like a drive-in movie parking lot. You’ll find rows separated by posts that are power stations for telescopes. Maunakea Visitor Information Station in Hilo, HawaiiAccording to Pitts, Maunakea is a major astronomical location on the Big Island that is home to an astronomer-only summit. The destination also features a visitor’s station where you can get a prime view for stargazing. The station is roughly 9,000 feet up in the air and is really dark. “They don’t allow any light up there, and all of the rest of the light is on the coast and thousands of feet below you,” Pitts said.Beyond stargazing, the area is also a popular place for hiking.Mark Twain National Forest in Rolla, Missouri“Generally, that whole area in Southeastern Missouri is really remote and nice,” Walczak said.Specifically, Mark Twain National Forest is a great place to visit for stargazing in the state. You can also hike, camp, or go boating while visiting the area.Gila National Forest in Silver City, New MexicoOne of Walczak’s favorite places for stargazing is Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Particularly, he recommended visiting Quemado Lake within the National Forest. There, you’ll find a campground at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, putting you up high enough in the dark to get a really good glimpse of the stars.AdvertisementGreat Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada“Great Basin National Park in Nevada is also an amazing observing site,” Walczak said.He added that the park is also very supportive of astrotourism and has a range of special events and offerings throughout the year. You can visit for its annual Astronomy Festival in the fall, attend a tour on Nevada Northern Railway’s star train or view the sky from the park’s on-site solar telescopes. University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas“High up in the Guadalupe Mountains is where McDonald Observatory is located,” said Tracy Knauss, director of astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory.The observatory stands at about 5,600 feet above sea level, making it a beautiful place to view the …

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