Exploring Night Skies – Where to Stargaze

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Close your eyes and imagine yourself beneath a blanket of shimmering stars, watching constellations and galaxies take shape. It’s you, your friends or family, in the quiet of the night.

If this sounds like your idea of a night out, check out this guide for finding your ideal stargazing spot. When you head out at night to stargaze, take your family or friends with you, be prepared for cooler temperatures, and let your eyes adjust to the wonder above.

A whole new world comes alive at night and is waiting to be explored

Dark sky destinations may be closer to home than you think. Driving just 30 minutes away from your town or city can reveal a completely different sky than the one you live under. Local and state parks also offer protection from busy light sources. Research your destination before you head out for visitation guidelines and astronomy programs that may be offered.

Here are some tips for exploring the night skies in your naturehood:

A family's camper van is lit from within in a parking lot beneath the night sky

Zion National Park (Cindy Ewing, Share the Experience)

Take your stargazing to the next level by camping out on your public lands or embarking on an overnight backpacking trip. Parks, forests, refuges, and other conservation lands are some of the best places for viewing the night sky because they actively work to protect dark skies from encroaching light pollution. Many of these locations have been designated International Dark Sky Places by the International Dark Sky Association, from the most remote Sanctuaries to Urban Night Sky Places. Check this list to find a dark sky destination near you!

Over 100 national parks offer programs at night, including night sky viewing, full moon walks, wildlife viewing/listening, and culturally specific topics. Find an event near you and bring your kids along to enjoy a Night Explorer Junior Ranger program.

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