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Stargazing Guide for the Southwest

Valley of Fire Star Gazing

Stargazing Tips

What is Stargazing

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “One who gazes at stars. Often used as a familiar or contemptuous substitute for astrologer or astronomer.

Where to go Stargazing in the Southwest

The southwest has some amazing places to stargaze since we have vast lands that are far away from the ambient city lights. Below are some of the top stargazing areas in each site. Did we miss your favorite? If so, let us know!

Stargazing Tips

meteor shower Perseus with the Milky Way

Stargazing in Arizona

  • Arizona Sky Village
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Kitt Peak National Observatory
  • Lowell Observatory
  • McDowell Mountain Regional Park
  • Monument Valley
  • Mount Lemmon SkyCenter
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Sedona
  • Verde River Greenway State Natural Area

Stargazing in California

  • Black Hills, Imperial, and Riverside counties
  • Borrego Springs, San Diego County
  • Corn Springs, Riverside County
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County
  • Midland Ghost Town, Riverside County
  • Milpitas Wash, Imperial County
  • Salton Sea, Riverside, and Imperial counties

Stargazing in Nevada

Stargazing in Utah

  • Antelope Island State Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument
  • Natural Bridges Natural Monument

Stargazing Guide for the Southwest

Best time of Night to Stargaze

The darkest night is around midnight.

If you are wanting to view the Milky Way, the best time is from midnight to 5:00 AM from February to October and on nights that we have a new moon.

Please note, this will vary depending on the hemisphere, your latitude, and other factors.

What to Look For

  • Constellations
  • International Space Station
  • Meteor Showers
  • Moon
  • Planets
  • Shooting Stars
  • Stars
  • The Milky Way

What to Take Stargazing

  • Battery Back and Charging Cord
  • Binoculars
  • Blanket (keep everything on top of your blanket so it’s easy to find if something is dropped)
  • Camera
  • Chair (beach chair low to the ground to see through your gear)
  • Cleaning towels (there could be a dew mist on your various lenses)
  • Flashlight (red torch)
  • Green laser pointer (good to point items out to your group)
  • Jacket or sweater (temps start to drop and it could be chilly)
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks (enjoy the night by taking snacks to enjoy while gazing at the sky)
  • Telescope
  • Tripod
  • Wildlife safety precautions and comfort (bug spray, etc.)

Mobile Apps for Stargazing

  1. Heavens Above
  2. Mobile Observatory
  3. Night Sky
  4. SkEye
  5. SkySafari
  6. SkyView
  7. StarLight
  8. Sky Map
  9. Star Rover
  10. Star Walk
  11. Stellarium Mobile 
Stargazing Tips

Mesmerizing Perseid Meteor Shower at Unique landscape anomaly Vasquez Rocks

Meteor Showers

  • the Quadrantids, in early January
  • the Perseids, in mid-August
  • the Geminids, in mid-December

Stargazing Tips

Darker skies. Cities are bright lights and pollution which will drown out your visibility to view the stars. Go far and high for the best spots!

Is it a star or a planet? If a bright light in the sky sparkles, it’s a star. If it doesn’t and appears stationary, it’s a planet. If an object is much brighter than those around it, there’s a good chance it’s a planet.

References Used

Stargazing Tips