The stars, moons, planets and galaxies were the hot topics in conversations afterwards NASA has released stunning new images from the James Webb Space Telescope earlier this summer.
But, aside from the occasional releases of new space images, it can be really hard to appreciate the night sky.
“There’s a reason not everyone is a stargazer,” he said. Ken and Chuck, Senior Director of Far Horizons at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “A hundred years ago, everyone was a stargazer, because 100 years ago [was] before the rampant emergence of outdoor electric lighting.”
Walchuck added that at one point, everyone could see the Milky Way from their yard—now, it’s getting more and more difficult. For those who want to see the Milky Way, or other things in the night sky, there are ways to do so. Here are some great travel destinations to see the stars, planets and nebulae, along with stargazing tips from the experts.
Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, Pennsylvania
“In Pennsylvania, there is a really well-known site here called Cherry Springs State Park,” he said Derek Bates, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. “It was made specifically for telescopic observers.”
He added that the park is so well equipped for stargazers that if you get there after dark, you’ll see what looks like a movie car park. You’ll find rows separated by posts that represent power stations for telescopes.
Maunakea Visitor Information Station in Hilo, Hawaii
According to Bates, Maunakea is a major astronomical site on the Big Island that is home to only the astrologers’ summit. The destination also contains a file visitor station Where you can have a prime view of stargazing.
The station is located approximately 9,000 feet in the air And it’s really dark. They don’t let in any light in there, and all the rest of the light is on the coast and thousands of feet below you,” Bates said.
In addition to the stars, the area also A popular place for hiking.
Mark Twain National Forest in Rolla, Missouri
“Overall, this whole area in southeastern Missouri is really remote and beautiful,” Walchuck said.
especially, Mark Twain National Forest It 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 Mexico
One of my favorite places in Walczak for stargazing Gila National Forest in New Mexico. In particular, I recommend a visit Lake Quemado within the National Forest. There, you’ll find a campground at about 7,000 feet, keeping you high enough in the dark to get a really good glimpse of the stars.
Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada
“Great Bassin National Park “Nevada is also a great lookout site,” Walchuck said.
He added that the park is also very supportive of astronomical tourism and has a range of special events and shows throughout the year. You can visit for its annual season Astronomy Festival In the fall, take a stargazing train ride on the Nevada Northern Railway or view the sky from on-site solar telescopes in the park.
The University of Texas McDonald’s Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas
High in the mountains of Guadalupe where McDonald’s Observatory Tracey Knaus, director of astronomy at George Observatory, Houston Museum of Natural Sciences.
The observatory stands about 5,600 feet above sea level, which makes it a lovely place to view the night sky all year round (and has many lighting limitations, so you won’t have to deal with bright lights interrupting your view while you’re there). If you can, try to visit in October because “you can see the Milky Way’s summer setting and the Milky Way’s winter rising,” Knaus noted.
Dark Sky International Parks
“These are state parks that have taken what is needed to designate them as ‘dark sky sanctuaries,'” Bates said.
Known as the International Dark Sky Parks, it includes places like the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Joshua Tree National Park in California, Rappahannock County Park in Virginia, Newport State Park in Wisconsin and more. You can search through List of all park locations (there are more than 100) to find one near you. It extends all over the United States.
Bates noted that all of the sites have regulations for things like using headlights and headlights at night, and don’t allow any useful lighting. “in This site, and possibly within some areas surrounding the site, is either keeping the nighttime lighting at a very low level or intentionally directing the light down so as not to obstruct your view of the night sky,” he said.
urban night sky places
For those who live in a city, you can also visit urban night sky placesAnd it’s a relatively new designation, Walchuck said. These designated areas can be a “municipal park, open space, observation site, or other similar property” near city environments whose design and layout allow for a better stargazing experience, According to the International Dark Sky Society.
“He noted that the goal of the urban night sky is more about an area dedicated to good lighting, “and its achievability for people who live in cities.
He added that any lighting in the area must comply with the International Dark-Sky Association’s requirements, which can include things like limited brightness and lower color temperatures.
Walchuck stressed that this makes for a unique experience for many city dwellers who are not used to seeing the sky with almost no lights around them.
Bonus: the Northern Lights in Iceland or Canada
We’d be remiss not to mention the ultimate night sky experience: the aurora borealis. Iceland or Canada are both ideal places to go to see the lights, according to Knaus.
especially, Yukon in Canada Famous for its main views of the northern lights and Heiðmörk . ForestNear Reykjavik, in Iceland is also a good destination. As for timing, Knaus said, “Bring in the bitter cold of winter, from December to February, to get a glimpse.”
In general, try to visit places with low amounts of light pollution if you want to watch the stars.
according to Lauren SkorzavaAbove all, director of communications for the International Dark Sky Association, “The stars are best in a place free from light pollution.” Think: areas that don’t have a lot of artificial lights like street lights, lights from buildings, and more.
Walczak added that you can use the Internet light pollution map To locate the darkest places near you. “THe said the farther away from the city lights the better.
Avoiding light when stargazing can be counterintuitive, but it’s more complicated than you think to find really dark areas, especially if you live east of the Mississippi River, which Walchuck said is difficult due to the massive population density along the East Coast. .
But, wherever you are, you should be able to find a dark place for stargazing in your state or region.
And using the right equipment or a little preparation goes a long way.
Experts also emphasize doing a little planning ahead of time and bringing the right equipment in order to see the most when you’re observing the night sky.
For starters, get good binoculars, Bates said. “It’s easy to take with you on a trip and the binoculars will let you see more than you see with the naked eye.”
Bates also recommended getting a paper star map, “just in case the battery on your phone is down or you don’t have an internet connection and you still want to be able to orientate yourself toward the sky.”
When you decide to make your trip, it’s also important. “Plan an observational trip for the first week of the lunar cycle — from new moon to first quarter moon,” Bates said. You can find this information by searching on Google for the current moon cycle.
The same goes for the time of year. “Winter, if you can stand it, has a pristine atmosphere. Because when it’s cold and it’s more stable, making the stars twinkle, for example,” Walchuck said. In general, the winter sky will be clearer and less distorted. (And anytime, be sure to check the weather beforehand.)clear sky outline It provides forecast information relevant to astronomical observations”.
to rise Walchuck noted that it’s also a bonus, but not a requirement. “The higher up you are, the less atmosphere you look at, which somehow makes the sky clearer.”
Finally, be sure to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness. Walchuck noted that it takes up to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully transition to night vision. During this time, avoid looking at your phone or other lights.
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