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Stargazing Tips for Campers

The Favorite Nighttime Pastime

Stargazing while camping ranks right up there with campfires and s’mores when it comes to nighttime activities. However, if you want to make the most of stargazing while camping there are a few tips and recommendations to follow for the best possible experience. So read on and get ready for some nighttime gazing.

The Best Places to Stargaze

The best places to stargaze are areas with the least amount of light pollution. Consequently, when choosing a camping location for the best stargazing you will want to choose a place as far as possible from large cities. In addition, especially if you’re staying at a campground with others, you’re going to want to put some distance between you and that campground. Even the small amount of light pollution from campfires, lanterns, and RVs can hinder your ability to see the stars clearly. So take a little hike, and get away from it all.

Useful Tools for Stargazing

Of course, there are no tools that are absolutely necessary for stargazing. However, there are some tools that can enhance your experience. Increase your comfort by bringing along blankets and pillows, or reclining camp chairs. Make sure you dress warmly – those temps drop a lot at night! Bring along some snacks and drinks. You’re about to see a display to rival the movies, so make sure you have your popcorn.

There are also some tools to help you understand what you’re seeing better. Bring along a high powered camera or a telescope to get a closer look at the stars. Download an app ahead of time on your phone to help you find various constellations, or bring a star chart to help you make identifications.

Stargazing Tips

Remember, the key to stargazing is to reduce light pollution. This goal has a few implications to your stargazing practices. First, you will want to cover and flashlights or lanterns you’re using to get to your destination with red paper. This will help give you enough light to see where you’re going, while preserving your nighttime vision. If you’re using your phone, consider switching it to a red screen for the same reason. After you arrive at your destination, turn off all lights and give your eyes at least thirty minutes to fully adjust to the dark. You will be amazed at how many more stars you can see after this period of time. This waiting period is also why it’s so important to dress warmly!

Things to Look (and Listen) For

Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for the following while stargazing:

  • Differently aged stars: Stars change color as they age, so see if you can discern differences in color. This will be much easier with a telescope!
  • Constellations: Pair up and make it a fun game! See which pair can identify the most constellations using only a paper star chart in a fixed amount of time.
  • Moon phases: Quiz the kids and see if they can correctly identify which phase the moon is in.
  • Wildlife: Look and listen for wildlife. There are many nocturnal creatures to be experienced while stargazing.
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