5 Best Tips on How to Stargaze While Camping

Stargazing tips

It’s no secret that both young and old are fascinated by the night sky. Constellations, planets, meteorites, shooting stars – there’s so much to see! But, when it comes to stargazing, what is the best way to go about it? Are there any secret stargazing tips that will help you get the best look at those dazzling diamonds in the sky?

As a matter of fact, there are many simple practices you can learn to elevate your stargazing skills!

In this camping guide, we’ll share our top 5 stargazing tips that will teach you how to stargaze like a pro. With these tricks under your belt, even the youngest member of your family will be able to enjoy the beautiful night sky.

Let’s get started!

What is Stargazing?

Stargazing is the art of searching for, looking at, and studying the stars. Stargazers are interested in the cosmos and spend time identifying specific stars and constellations.

Stargazing enthusiasts also enjoy analyzing all of the entities found in the night sky, including:

  • Lunar phenomena: Phases of the moon, eclipses, harvest moons, and supermoons.
  • Constellations: Star clusters that take a particular shape or pattern and have a name attributed to their collection.
  • Planets: Common planets that we can see from earth during certain times of the year include Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter.
  • Milky way: The spiral galaxy that can be visibly seen in locations with no light pollution.
  • Meteor showers & comets: Also known as shooting stars, meteor showers and comets fly across the sky at extremely fast speeds, often entering the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Seasonal night sky phenomena: Think of Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights!

For centuries, people have used the stars, moon, and other solar bodies to navigate. What’s interesting is that the same practices our ancestors used to locate stars can still be applied to stargazing today. But, how easy is it to learn nowadays?

Stargazing tips

Can Anyone Learn How to Stargaze?

Yes, of course! You DO NOT have to be an astronomer to stargaze.

Even though it might be hard to orient yourself with the stars in the beginning, with a little bit of practice, you will be able to locate even the most challenging constellations!

If you know the right tricks to the game, stargazing can quickly become an easy and enjoyable pastime for the entire family.

5 Best Stargazing Tips for Your Camping Trip

Are you ready to learn how to stargaze for your next camping trip? It’s no wonder that stargazing is the PERFECT activity for your camping trip, especially since the goal of camping is to escape the city and experience nature in its rawest form – stars and all!

Without further ado, here are our 5 best stargazing tips to make your camping trip that much more special.

1. Find the Right Location & the Right Time

Here’s the biggest secret to stargazing: Clear skies are a stargazer’s paradise!

If you really want to learn how to stargaze, you need to go at a time that has fair weather and clear skies. The less clouds, rain, haze, and fog, the better.

Simply check your weather app to see what the weather forecast is going to be like in your area. Most apps will tell you if it will be a clear night or not.

Get Away From Light Pollution

Next, you’ll also need to find a beautiful camping location that doesn’t have a blocked view or a lot of light pollution. In other words, get as far away from the city as possible!

If you’re wondering how to choose the best places to stargaze, take note that a big city can produce a dome of light pollution that spans as much as 50 miles! Light pollution makes it hard to see the stars because it dulls out the light of the stars themselves. Therefore, the darker the sky, the better.

Keep in mind that your campfire will create light and smoke pollution – so plan to put out your fire at least 20 minutes before stargazing!

Stargazing tips

Pro Stargazing Tip: Climb to a Higher Elevation

If you’re camping in a heavily wooded area, scope out a clearing. Trees can definitely get in the way of your view. Sometimes the best way to escape the woods is to set camp on higher ground.

Interestingly enough, the higher you hike, the less dense the air will be as well. This reduces fog and haze and will help you get the best view possible! It’s a win-win situation.

2. Locate the Position of the Moon

Just like the sun rises and sets at different times of the day, the moon follows a similar cycle. The position of the moon also follows the same cardinal directions as the sun. It rises from the east and sets in the west.

Depending on the position of the moon in the night sky, you will be able to orient yourself to the direction of specific star clusters and constellations. Keep in mind that the rising and setting of the moon heavily relies on the season you’re in.

For starters, nights in the Northern Hemisphere are typically shorter in the summer, giving you less of a window of time to stargaze. On the other hand, winter nights last much longer and can give you a better chance to see the stars. The seasons also make the moon appear larger and brighter or smaller and duller in the sky, depending on the moon’s opposing position to the sun.

This makes stargazing much more interesting, doesn’t it?

Really not important but I can’t resist: as a stargazer, I have to say that having the Moon up in the sky (especially when it’s larger than the First Quarter) ruins the experience because it’s a huge source of light pollution, or more precisely – light interference (unless you want to look at the Moon) 🙂 So, the best stargazing is when there’s no Moon in the sky – I’d dedicate a chapter to that, or even open with that. One source says: The best time to go stargazing is the days before, during and soon after each new Moon, when there is no Moon in the sky.

3. Learn the Stars and Constellations

Stars have names that signify their importance and location in the sky. The most famous stars are often denoted with an “Alpha,” which makes them the lead stars in certain constellations. Some of the most well-known stars include:

  • Polaris: The North Star and the alpha star in the Little Bear constellation (Alpha Ursae Minoris)
  • Sirius: The Dog Star and the brightest star in the Big Dog constellation (Canis Major)
  • Betelgeuse: The Hand of Orion and one of the brightest red stars Orion constellation (Alpha Orionis)

Star groups, known as constellations, also have names. As of today, 88 constellations are identified and include the 12 famous zodiac constellations. You may recognize constellations like the Big Dipper, Aries, Cygnus (also known as the Northern Cross), Aquila (meaning eagle), Draco (the serpent or dragon), Ursa Major (Larger Bear), and Ursa Minor (Lesser Bear).

Identify Star Clusters

Within constellations are star clusters. A great example of a well-recognized star cluster is the Pleiades, also known as the 7 sisters. This cluster is made up of – you guessed it – 7 stars. The Pleiades reside in the overarching constellation of Taurus.

Since ancient times, these groupings have been identified and followed by astronomers, travelers, and mariners alike. In fact, even Old Testament accounts from the Bible mention star clusters and constellations, including Orion and the Pleiades!

So, how can you find and navigate these constellations? Keep reading to discover one of the easiest stargazing tips to identify the stars.

4. Pull Out a Stargazing App

As you know, constellations create certain patterns and images in the sky.

While popular star groups are easy to identify, like Orion’s Belt, other lesser known systems are more difficult to find. Not to mention, star positions vary greatly depending on what hemisphere, longitude, latitude, and season you’re in. To the untrained eye, these constellations might be super hard to map out!

Luckily, modern technology has made it simple to see these constellations. There are a wide variety of amazing stargazing apps that you can download on your phone and tablet that will help you not only find the constellations, but they will also show you the image that the constellation creates.

Simply point your phone towards the sky on a dark, clear night and you’ll instantly find all of the constellations!

5. Go Old school with a Star Map

As a beginner stargazer, the stargazing apps will be incredibly helpful to get you started. But, once you have a pretty good understanding of where certain stars are in the night sky, you can ditch the phone and opt for an old school star map.

Star maps, also known as star charts, will give you a general direction of where certain constellations are located in the sky. As long as you can pinpoint the location of the moon and key Alpha stars, you should be able to use a star map with no problem at all!

Stargazing tips

Bonus Tip: Bring Binoculars

While it might be a bit difficult to carry a telescope to your campsite, you can still get a much better look at the stars with a basic pair of binoculars. After all, your naked eye can only see so far!

Want to Find a Tranquil Getaway to Go Stargazing?

Now that you have all of the best stargazing tips to get you started, go grab a blanket and some snacks, find a clear spot, and get ready to look up into the vastness of the night sky!

Need a quiet vacation spot to begin your stargazing adventure? Look no further than Farmstead at Mill Spring! Located near Lake Lure in North Carolina, Farmstead is the PERFECT getaway to start stargazing!

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