“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Did you know that experiencing awe can make you happier, healthier, humbler and more connected to others around you? A simple way to inspire awe? Lay back and take in the vast beauty of the night sky. Are you not quite sure where to start? Here’s some tips to make sure your night sky experience is stellar:
Time it right! Cloudless, moonless nights are the best for a clear view of other celestial objects. When the moon is full, the light will prevent viewing of fainter stars or the Milky Way. Thanks to the darkness of the New Moon on July 31st, this is the perfect time to grab a blanket and check out the stars. Start stargazing two hours after sunset or before dawn. This ensures the light of the sun won’t interfere with your ability to view the fainter light of stars and planets.
Here are some dates of interest when planning your adventures:
July 31st: Black moon. The 2nd New Moon of the month and the first since 2016! Dark skies and great viewing of stars and the Milky Way.
August 1: Mercury appears as a bright white dot above the eastern horizon.
August 12: Perseid meteor shower! During the peak expect 50 meteors/hour streaking past the Perseus constellation. Although there may be fewer meteors overall, they may be more visible earlier in the month due to the light of the moon.
August 15: Full moon.
August 30: Last new moon of the last of summer.
Find an area with minimal or no light pollution. Make sure there are no major cities to your south. Dark Site Finder has a handy map to help you find areas that have minimal light pollution. On this map, areas colored green or blue are areas that are darker overall. Conveniently, many Vermont State Parks fall into these zones. Some recommendations:
Coolidge State Park in Plymouth, VT
Green River Reservoir State Park in Hyde Park VT
New Discovery State Park in Marshfield, VT
Emerald Lake State Park in East Dorset, VT
Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, VT
Allis State Park in Randolph, VT
Get a night sky map. As with any adventure, maps are a great tool to have! There are apps you can use for star viewing, however, light from devices can negatively affect your night vision. You can opt to print a paper copy of free celestial maps online including the one found here.
Let your eyes adjust for at least 20 minutes. This means no screen time, flashlights, or other light sources. The patience will more than pay off!
Have any images or videos of your celestial adventures in Vermont State Parks? Make sure to share them to our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts with #vtstateparks. What are you most excited to see in the night sky? Where is your favorite place to star gaze? Let us know in the comments below!