Every year, our cities are getting brighter. As development increases, so does the amount of bright lights in the night sky. The more light we shine, the less starlight we see shining.
This is called light pollution This is the main reason why people in the heart of cities can only see the 10-50 brightest stars at night. Cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Flagstaff, Arizona, take measures to reduce their light pollution, but most urban locations are too bright to see the stars.
But if you’re away from the city lights, you’ll be treated to so many stars, that you can’t count them all. Where else can you go to see darker, darker, and darker skies?
Here are my favourites.
Closer to home: the best places for sky-watching in Cincinnati
Although sometimes not ideal for stargazing, many of Cincinnati’s parks have great views, such as Mount Echo and Mount Storm. And most Cincinnati parks are open to the public until 10 p.m.—allowing you to stay out of the dark most of the year.
My go-to place in Cincinnati to see things low in the sky like planets, comets, or sunsets is Ault Park. Located about 5 miles east of downtown, this Cincinnati Park isn’t exactly out in the country, but it offers some of the best views toward the western skyline from the top of the pavilion.
Another Cincinnati park with an all-encompassing scene is French Garden in the village of Amberley. At the top of the long cliff and near the historic French house, you can lie on the grass and enjoy the sky. You won’t be able to see the Milky Way at night from the French Garden, but a stargazer can feel like they’re in the countryside.
Road Trip: Dark sky locations you can drive to
Big Bone Lick Historic Site In Kentucky, a 30-minute drive from Cincinnati. Also known for its bison, the park also boasts relatively dark night skies that are perfect for weekend camping trips.
Twice a month, around the new moon, members of the Cincinnati Observatory set up telescopes at Stonelake State Park. About 35 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, Stonelick provides a semi-dark place where you can spot traces of the Milky Way across the sky. But if you go on a free public viewing night, you’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of some of the incredibly large and expensive telescopes owned by amateur astronomers.
About 70 miles east of Cincinnati Hill snake, one of the largest ancient doll mounds in the world. It’s also quite far from the city lights and offers great dark skies.
You can also get away from some light pollution by visiting the Hocking Hills area southeast of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to the many public parks, you can visit John Glenn Astronomy Park Where there are often events for an easy introduction.
Plan a Vacation: Favorite stargazing spots in the country
But you should definitely plan a trip to truly experience dark skies. There are comprehensive lists of the best and most beautiful skies in the country, but I choose the ones that I have experienced firsthand and that have left the deepest impression on me.
Upper Peninsula Michigan has some of the darkest skies in the Midwest and you can see the arc of the Milky Way above during the late summer months. I especially recommend going there during a meteor shower – I witnessed something incredible Perseids shower It’s August in Michigan when dozens of shooting stars cross the sky darling for hours.
Crater Lake, Oregon, is one of the most beautiful and serene national parks. The central focus is the country’s deepest blue lake. But after dark, when you drive to the edge of the caldera, you’ll be treated to immeasurable stars above and the ghostly glow of the lake below.
There are simply too many national parks to add to this list. Many have achieved Certified Dark Sky status. Bryce Canyon, Arches, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree have all taken significant steps to make their parks darker by reducing the lighting. The theme parks growing motto is “Half the park after dark.” Seeing a sky full of stars is just as exciting as seeing the stunning scenery during the day. Dark skies are rarer, if not rare, than mountains, waterfalls, and lakes. If you’re planning a vacation, try adding Dark Skies to your itinerary.
For a list of the best stargazing spots, see the Darksky map at darksky.org.
Sign up for a class: Venus – our quirky sister planet
What: Beginner class by astronomer Dean Rigas. Dean shows you the latest discoveries from our planet Venus and, if they are clear, views of Venus through telescopes.
when: May 16 or 17 at 8 p.m
whereCincinnati Observatory: 3489 Observatory Place.
tickets$20 per person, $15 per observatory member.
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