Gazing at the stars on a clear night gives you such an appreciation of the vastness of the universe, but with artificial light from cities and urban settlements obscuring even the clearest of skies, stargazing might not be as easy as you think. Luckily, there are many sites in the US from which stargazing is still possible, thanks to the vast swathes of wilderness that remain in the country.
Some of the best stargazing sites in the US are:
- Death Valley National Park, California: There is very little artificial light within the confines of this park, so it is ideal for viewing meteor showers or lunar eclipses. The dry climate, allied to clean air and an expansive horizon, makes for spectacular stargazing.
- Mauna Kea, Hawaii: This dormant volcano, on the Big Island, is the highest point in all of Hawaii and is also home to the largest observatory in the world. There is virtually no light pollution atop the 13,803-foot volcano, and a tropical inversion cloud layer cuts the summit off from the effect of the moist maritime air below, ensuring a sky free from atmospheric pollution. The Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station, located at 9,200 feet, runs nightly stargazing programs for free.
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: The skies here offer spectacular views, owing to clean, dry air and the high elevation. You can see as many as 7,500 stars with the naked eye. Bryce holds an annual Astronomy Festival.
2015 is shaping up to be a big year for stargazers, with many spectacular events occurring. The Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower is scheduled for July 28 and 29, and might see around 20 meteors per hour at peak, with best viewing typically toward the east and after midnight. The following month sees the Perseids Meteor Shower, on August 12 and 13, with the possibility of up to 60 meteors per hour at peak. Neptune will be at its closest point to Earth on September 1, if you want a good view of the blue planet. These are just three of the stargazing highlights for 2015.
Outdoor Traveler offers a range of tours to different locations across the US, including wilderness locations, and seeing what it offers is as easy as visiting the Outdoor Traveler Twitter page. Booking your tour and accommodation can be done through the website, with online chat as an option, or over the phone if you prefer.
Start planning your trip to watch the stars, and you be able to experience the brilliance of the great outdoors at the same time.