If you are looking to go stargazing, then knowing when to go will have a huge impact on what you are ultimately able to see. We all want to get those clear and impressive views of the sky, but when would experts and astronomers advise that you go? I spent some time researching to find out for good. I’ll be sharing all that I found here today.
So, when is the best time to go stargazing? The best time to go stargazing is when the sky is at its darkest. This is generally in the days leading up to, during, and after every new moon. This is because the moon will not be present in the sky, and its light will not overpower those of fainter stars. The result is that you will be able to see thousands of more stars, even with your naked eye. You’ll often find that spring is the best season to go stargazing.
Observing the stars is one of the most interesting and fascinating things you can do. If you get the time right, you’ll even be able to see a lot with your naked eye. Better yet, a pair of astronomy binoculars can open up an entirely new landscape that you previously may have not seen.
Let us now take a closer look at all of the factors that play a huge role in your visibility when it comes to stargazing. We will also be discussing the best conditions, seasons, and how to find a great stargazing spot.
So, be sure to read to the end to get all the information you need to make your experiences more rewarding and fulfilling!
How Much Does The Moon Affect Stargazing?
As interesting and fascinating as it is, the moon is perhaps your biggest opposition when it comes to viewing the stars. It plays a significant role in what you will and will not be able to see.
This is because the moon dominates the night sky; by reflecting sunlight back towards the earth.
In doing so, it actually completely overpowers the fainter stars and their light is unable to shine back toward Earth (which enables us to see them).
This is why if you have ever gone stargazing on a night of a full moon, you can only see some of the more powerful, brighter stars.
It is the furthest stars that can no longer be recognized; as their light is unable to compete with the light that the moon reflects.
One thing to note is that you can expect a full moon once per month, or 12 times per year. Therefore finding out when the new moon is to appear is one of the best things you can do to prepare for nights where stargazing will be less successful.
What Are The Best Conditions For Stargazing?
The best conditions for stargazing are when the sky is at its darkest. This is ultimately when the moon is the least visible in the sky.
You’ll find that it is the time around the new moon that is best for stargazing, leading up to, during, and in the days after. Here is why.
At these times, the moon cannot be seen, or it has minimal interference. As such, as the moon does is not reflecting light, it will not overcome all of those fainter, deeper sky objects.
They will instead be entirely visible!
This is when you just have to go stargazing. Thousands of stars, including galaxies and nebulae become apparent during this time.
One other thing to consider is human light, or that coming from your local environment.
For the best views of the sky, you equally need to make sure that there is not a lot of light pollution in your area. This again will impact what you are able to see.
Generally, rural locations are best, away from the bright lights of the cities.
Some astronomers obtain enough satisfaction by using their naked eye. Others prefer to use binoculars or even telescopes.
Either way, it depends on how many levels of detail you want to see.
Dark sky calendars are excellent resources that can help you to identify when the next new moon is due. You can organize your stargazing adventures accordingly.
What Are The Best Seasons For Stargazing?
The best seasons for stargazing are those that are naturally more dark and where the skies are most clear. Spring and Autumn are usually recommended by expert astronomers.
This is one of the reasons why you will often see stargazing discussed more in the final few months of the year, and why you may even see more astronomers looking up at the night sky outside.
In Fact, many stargazing conventions and events take place during October, November and December, just before the skies begin to become more cluttered through the turn-in weather.
What Are The Worst Seasons For Stargazing?
The worst season to go stargazing is during the summer. As you can probably imagine, this is when the sky remains at its lightest. And it does so for the majority of the day.
Nights are also shorter during the summer, so you’ll have less opportunity to go outside and stargaze altogether.
This is primarily why you do not see many stars during the summer; there is just too much light and sunrise comes around too quickly.
At the peak, during what is known as summer solstice (or the longest day of the year), the least amount of light is visible – making it perhaps the worst time of the year to go!
It comes as no surprise to learn that few if any, stargazing events are held during this season. In fact, you’d struggle to find a public observatory open during this time at all.
How Do You Find A Good Stargazing Spot?
Finding a good stargazing spot is all about using the conditions to your advantage. What you can see will ultimately depend on your location, and where you are able to go.
It is generally advised that to get the best views of the night sky you should find the darkest spot available. There should be minimal light around you, as this can interfere with your views.
For this reason, it is generally recommended to venture out to the countryside or quieter, rural areas.
From there, you want to try and find a high, vantage point. This could be something like a hill, slope, or even a small mount depending on what is safe and available to you.
If you reside in the city or want to do your stargazing there, the same suggestion applies.
Instead, you will want to try and view the sky from a lift window, a rooftop (so long as it is safe), or windows in upper-story flats.
Some local parks can be a good way to minimize light pollution, as can the outskirts of cities. Usually, you’ll even find higher ground here if you are able to make it there.
In fact, there are hundreds of places all over the world that have been cited for being excellent stargazing spots. Research your local location and look out for these in your area.
Stargazing is a rewarding and fascinating experience; so long as you can actually see the delights that the night sky has to offer.
By knowing exactly when to go, and being fully prepared in advance, you will soon be amazed at what the moon may have previously been keeping from your view.
So to summarize; the time to go are during the Spring and the Autumn, particularly around the New Moon and when the sky is at its darkest. Any other time the moon has minimum interference is great too!
Outside of this, its all about reducing light pollution, finding vantage points and using some tools to your advantage.
Astronomy binoculars and telescopes are some of the best pieces of equipment if you want to explore deeper into the sky and unveil and observe of the deep sky objects in further detail.
If you want to get either one but are not sure which will be best, I suggest you take a look at my comparative article here where I outline the differences and what will be best for you.
Otherwise, I wish you some happy and extraordinary stargazing sessions!