I live in the suburbs, where the city lights block out all but the most determinedly bright stars and celestial objects. A few nights ago the sky was particularly clear, and my husband and I stood in our front yard finding satellites and identifying planets. That got me to thinking about how significant stargazing used to be for me, in my home town in Maine. I’ve never seen stars so bright, since I moved away. I’ve really stopped looking up as much as I used to – a fact which I hope to rectify in the very near future.
Here are a handful of excellent locations from which to gaze at the stars.
1. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada. Rent a houseboat for a week, and spend your evenings floating along, laying on a blanket or lounge chair on the roof, and gazing up at the unrestricted view, free from the dampening of city lights.
2. Haleakala National Park, Maui. The summit of Haleakala Mountain is the highest point on Maui and brings you above the cloud level and close to the night sky. The clear air has been washed clean by Pacific winds and rain, and the unrestricted view is glorious.
3. Big Bend National Park, Texas. This extraordinary park encompasses desert, mountain, canyon, and river landscapes. It is a popular hiking and camping destination and with over 800,000 acres, it’s easy to get away from humanity and enjoy the serenity of the night sky.
4. Jester Park, Polk City, Iowa. This is an 1,834-acre park located on the western shore of Saylorville Lake. Though it is a mere half-hour from downtown Des Moines, the quiet country setting offers visitors a peaceful, dark place to enjoy the night sky.
5. Mather Point, Grand Canyon South Rim, Arizona. This area is one of the most popular viewing areas of the canyon itself, being closest to the entrance station and right beside the road. After dark, however, it becomes a truly excellent place to look up at the stars instead of down at the canyon.