Thursday, October 11, 2012

Make Star Gazing Part of Your Vacation Plans this Winter

Milky Way photo by Richard Payne.
Taken in Arizona's Kofa Mountains.

While laying on a blanket gazing up at the stars on a warm summer night is enjoyable, the best time of year to see the stars is winter. Humidity is down across the country, so even areas in the east and southeast offer great conditions.

Don't worry about not having a telescope. Star gazing is about taking the whole sky in, not just individual stars. You'll know you had a premier star gazing experience when you tell friends back home that you saw the Milky Way in all it's glory.

Of course, a clear night with no moonlight and as far away form a city is always best, but the higher the altitude, the better the view.

Here are a few prime locations for star gazing in various parts of the United States. These areas also have plenty of vacation rentals available at Perfect Places.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
The Outer Banks, North Carolina

There's over 70 miles of rural seashore, making the Outer Banks one of the best spots on the east coast to see the stars. You can also see bioluminescent plankton glow in the water. Cap Hatteras National Seashore also offers boating, camping, fishing, interpretive programs, a visitor center, water sports and much, much more.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Big Island Hawaii

Catch up on your sleep poolside in Kona,
The Big Island.
Any of the Hawaiin Islands offer great star gazing. After all, you're on the most remote islands anywhere in the world, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaiin Volcanoes National Park would be worth a visit for the optimal experience. Park Rangers are available, there's a visitor center, interpretive programs, camping, hiking and more. Then there's this: on the WM Keck Observatory platform on Mauna Kea, you''ll be at 9,200 feet and above the clouds.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Borrego Springs, California

Outside of San Diego is Borrego Springs, California, an internationally recognized Dark Sky Community. The IDSC designation recognizes communities that take steps to preserve natural light. Borrego Springs is surrounded by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Flagstaff, Arizona, and Homer Glenn, Illinois, have also achieved IDSC designation.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a great example of the type of area you should go to for star gazing. You can find secluded beaches and spots where the night sky lights up with the Milky Way. You'll also be near plenty of services and amenities, as well as a host of things to do during the day.

Other great places for star gazing include: National Bridges Monument, Utah; Block Island, Rhode Island; Cap Cod, Massachusetts. You can find more here.

If you're new to star gazing, here are some tips and resources to get you started.