Astronomers have only begun to understand what lies in the galaxy beyond our planet. Billions of stars, asteroids, and planets hang above our heads every night. Tap or click here for an app to help see which constellations and planets are out tonight.
If you enjoy staring at the night sky, you may be disappointed in your view, depending on where you live. Cities and a rising world population have given birth to light pollution, making the night sky incredibly difficult to see, especially if you want to locate a particular planet or star.
A new website hopes to help you find the perfect stargazing spot to see the Milky Way or Big Dipper free of light pollution. Here is how to find the ideal location to view the night sky.
Dark Site Finder
DarkSiteFinder.com was created by a fellow stargazer who wanted to be free of the light pollution in big cities and find the perfect places around him to get a good glimpse of the universe.
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The website covers international locations to find the perfect viewing spot anywhere. The areas are broken down by color scale — the darker the color scale, the better the viewing possibilities.
The website does warn that while the places listed are optimal for viewing the sky free of light pollution, it doesn’t consider certain factors that can affect what you see, like humidity and localized lights.
How to use the map
The overall map can seem a little complicated, but thankfully the owner has created a handy map information page to walk you through how to use it. You can access that here.
You can access the actual map from the home page by clicking on the map option on the menu bar at the top of the website. Once there, you’ll see a map of your continent. You’ll see pins on the map in varying colors, showing you the closest pins to your location.
If you have a touchpad mouse, zoom in and out on the map by squeezing your fingers together or dragging them out. Don’t have a touchpad? You can use the zoom buttons on the page’s left side. Click on a pin to learn more about that location and select Get More Information on the pop-up.
How to find the perfect stargazing area
The website has hundreds of options depending on where you live or traveling abroad. We’ve pulled out some of the best options to give you an idea of what you can find:
Grand Canyon National Park
Open up the Grand Canyon Dark Site information page to find that it’s dark gray, making it a fantastic option to see the entire sky. You’ll also find information about the National Park, including costs and the best viewing options.
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Have you ever heard of Spruce Knob, West Virginia? It is a real place and is light gray on the map, offering a 360 view of the night sky that you won’t want to miss.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is in South Dakota. This is an excellent place for stargazing because it’s very dark, and there are no trees and few sky obstructions. There are plenty of parking lots to sit in and view the beautiful sky. If you’d like to stay awhile, there are two campgrounds to make it an overnight visit.
These are just a few options you’ll find on the site. There are many more. Give it a try the next time you feel like an evening adventure.