If you’re planning a summer vacation and are hoping to enjoy a bit of stargazing, here are five great places to see the stars this summer.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
This Southern California desert reserve turns nearly pitch black in the evenings, offering unobstructed views of the desert sky at night. Throughout the year, park rangers offer “Night Sky” programs at Cottonwood Campground, one of the park’s prime stargazing spots. In nearby Twentynine Palms, the Sky’s the Limit Observatory offers star parties with telescopes and educational talks.
Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
As the first designated International Dark Sky Park, Natural Bridges National Monument has one of the country’s top skies for stargazing, thanks to low levels of light pollution. Bring the camping gear and settle in for a night of summer stargazing, thanks in part to the monument’s 13-watt light bulbs that don’t interfere with the view of the night sky.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
On a clear night, stargazers can see almost 2 million light years away into the Andromeda Galaxy, according to the National Park Service. Big Bend National Park is far from the ambient light of any large cities or towns, so park visitors can expect to see a sky bursting with stars, planets and meteorites. Even if you don’t bring a telescope, you’re sure to see thousands of stars.
While Sedona’s red rocks are the area’s claim to fame during the day, the evening scene-stealers are the stars that illuminate the night sky. For a guide to the heavens, you can book an astronomy tour with Evening Sky Tours, which offers small group tours of planets, stars and galaxies with high-powered lasers and state-of-the-art telescopes.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s big island offers a free nightly stargazing program at the volcano’s 9,300-foot summit. The program offers a documentary screening and plenty of free telescopes to view both northern- and southern-hemisphere stars. Volunteer guides are also on site to point out visible stars and constellations.
(Main image: indeliblemistakes used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)