The nighttime skies can offer stargazers incredible, otherworldly experiences, but tracking down these views takes a little preparation. When and where to go, what to pack, and how to escape light pollution are just a few things to consider before you hit the road to hunt for starry skies.
If a stargazing adventure is on your travel agenda, here are a few tips for planning a successful trip.
Scouting your location: Find a location that has limited light pollution and plenty of open skies. Apps like SkySafari can help you search for dark areas with little light pollution. Build in buffer days for your trip, just in case cloud cover or inclement weather disrupt your view.
Season: Depending on what you want to see (aurora borealis, the Milky Way, etc.), seasons can play a big role in stargazing. Research the area you want to visit to find the best months for your stargazing preferences. You should also consider planning your trip around a new moon, so there’s less light interrupting your view.
Supplies: For a successful trip, consider bringing along things like a headlamp, blanket, binoculars, snacks, water, and an astrophotography kit. Remember to dress for the weather and region you’re visiting.
Safety tips: It’s always a good idea to take on a stargazing adventure with another travel companion, so you’re not roaming in remote locations in the dark by yourself. You should also let somebody know where you’re going, check the forecast beforehand, know what wildlife you may encounter, and scout the area during the day to know what type of terrain and landscape you’ll need to navigate at night.
Sleeping accommodations: Use apps like Campendium and Roadtrippers to locate campgrounds or lodging near dark sky areas. Whether you’re looking for national park campgrounds or unique hotel stays, these apps can help you find places to stay and things to do during your stargazing adventure.