The best stargazing sites in the US
If you live in a major city, then you probably love the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you experience. Some people prefer to live in a more rural area where they can take advantage of the beauty of nature. When you live in the city, the lights from all the surrounding buildings often take away the ability to see an amazing display of stars in the sky. If you’re up for a trip, there are several places across the United States where you can stargaze during evening hours. Let’s take a look at some of the best stargazing sites in the United States right now.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Cherry Springs State Park is home to the black cherry trees that grow across 82 full acres of land. It is part of the 262,000 acre Susquehannock State Forest. It’s a very rural and remote area, but definitely worth the trip if you want to see the night sky in a way that you never have before. When the sky is completely black and clear, you’ll find many astronomers and stargazers hanging out here. You can see planets, nebulae, and galaxies like nowhere else in the United States. If you’re planning to head out in the evening to catch the star show at Cherry Springs State Park, make sure that you check the weather forecast ahead of time. You need a nice clear night to see everything fully.
Photo by Adam Dutton
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park is a protected area in the United States. It spans across 801,163 acres, and it is an official International Dark Sky Park. The International Darkness Association has labeled this park as one of ten locations on the entire earth that has prime stargazing. The darker the sky, the better you’ll be able to pick out the stars and planets that you’re looking to locate. On a clear night, you can quickly pick out the Milky Way.
Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
There are several bridges within the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. These naturally built bridges include Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu. There were Native American tribes that resided here back in the day. History explains that these bridges were eventually formed by the flow of a local river changing its direction through the rocks. These bridges are magnificent by themselves, but you can view the stars from here as well. On a prime evening, you’ll be able to see 15,000 stars in the night sky.
Death Valley National Park Photo by Wilson Ye
Death Valley National Park, California
The Death Valley National Park in California is the third darkest night sky in the United States. Spreading over 3.4 million acres, this is a dedicated wilderness area that allows people to truly take in the night sky and all of nature around them. This is a very popular location when a lunar or solar eclipse comes up. Meteor showers also put on quite a show at the Death Valley National Park. In the summer months, it gets very hot here. You can check out the weather forecast online to get an idea of when you would like to visit.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. The part you can see is 13,796 feet above sea level, but there is a large portion that is under the water. If you count the piece of land that is under the water, Mauna Kea is actually larger than Mt. Everest. You can travel up Mauna Kea as high as you would like to view the stars. The clarity of the sky improves as you make your way upwards thanks to cleaner air. The cloud cover is below the summit. You are almost guaranteed a good view of the stars, regardless of the weather. There are currently 13 telescopes constructed at this spot. Anyone is free to use them.
Photo by Steve Halama
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
The Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico is also known by the name of Dark Sky Park. Stargazers come from all over to visit this site. Ninety percent of this area is a natural darkness zone. Permanent outdoor lighting is not allowed. The purpose of this is to protect the ability to stargaze. It’s also imperative for the wildlife that lives on a nocturnal schedule in the wilderness. The locals believe that this lack of light is needed to maintain stability for human and plant life.
If you’re serious about taking a trip to stargaze at some of the best locations in the United States, think about the time of year that you’re looking to travel. You also need to think about how far you’re willing to go. If it’s winter where you are, you can do some great stargazing on the opposite side of the country, while enjoying some great weather at the same time. Just check your forecast ahead of time to make sure you have the right gear packed for the trip ahead. Don't forget about the locations that are high enough above the clouds that you don't have to worry about cloud skies. This is the best way to ensure you're going to get a good view of the stars on your excursion.