Virginia has some of the best stargazing on the east coast, with lots of expansive spaces with no light pollution and high-tech observatories open to the public. Plan a Virginia Stargazing trip near you and channel your inner astronomer.
Know before you go: Social distancing and face masks are required to participate in stargazing events. Be sure to check security Logs and special requirements before you go. Check those too Predict before you go as stargazing activities are weather dependent.
– –DARK SKY PARKS & DESTINATIONS– –
Shenandoah National Park
Photo credit: Gordon Lau IG account: @gordonklau
Free from light pollution and development, Shenandoah National Park is one of the best stargazing destinations in Virginia. The park offers Explore the sky Astronomy presentations, Night sky Programs with amateur astronomers and Twilight walking with Shenandoah Mountain Guides.
Dark Sky State Parks – Staunton River and James River
Staunton River State Park and James River State Park are two of only 81 parks in the world that have been designated as International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). The parks have a strict outdoor lighting policy that ensures exceptionally dark skies that attract astronomers from across the country to multi-day celebrations every spring and fall.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Photo credit: Trevor Mahlmann, IG account: @tmahlmann
Assateague Island National Seashore, an undeveloped beach, has completely dark skies perfect for stargazing, meteor showers, and comets. Add a visit to Chincoteague NASA Wallops flight facility to see NASA’s primary facility for launching suborbital missions, including rockets and scientific balloons. Guided tours through the facility are possible for organized groups with reservation. Note: The visitor center is currently closed due to COVID-19. So check the website for updated information before planning a visit.
Meadows from Dan & Primland Resort
Meadows by Dan in Patrick County, a rural Virginia county with little light pollution, is perfect for stargazing. To attempt Fairy Stone State Park Campsites, cabins, yurts and lodges and step right outside the door and enjoy the dark sky.
Meadows of Dan also includes Primland Resort, a luxury boutique resort on LEED-certified, 12,000-acre pristine Blue Ridge Mountains. The altitude of the resort, the remote location, the on-site Observatory Dome, and the night Come on Starwalk in Primland Programs with the resort’s Celestron CGE Pro 1400 telescope make it an ideal spot for stargazing. The tour begins with a demonstration of constellations and planets from the outside, then moves on to topics such as star formation and death, galaxy formation, and the large scale of the universe.
Photo credit: Scott K Brown
visit Grayson County, Home to Virginia’s highest mountain, and many parks, cabins, cottages, and campsites that are spectacular Watching stars due to low light pollution. visit Grayson Highlands State Park Hike among wild ponies during the day and enjoy a front-row view of the stars at night.
Highland county is one of the most important dark sky areas in the eastern United States. Try this out Highland County Stargazer’s Facebook page Information on upcoming astronomical events, including star parties, in association with the Charlottesville Astronomical Society. Note: Star parties are public, but events for 2020 have been canceled.
Lake Anna State Park
With its clear sky and numerous camping and glamping accommodations Lake Anna State Park is a wonderful place to soak up the night sky and enjoy daytime park facilities such as walking trails, beach access and docks.
Natural Chimneys Park & Campground
Photo credit: Erin Harrigan, IG account: @erinharrigan
Natural Chimneys Park & Campground lies at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains in Augusta County, far from any major light pollution. Though the stray lightning may pass by, a clear night reveals a dazzling array of stars in the shadows of the chimneys.
– –OBSERVATIONS– –
The Atonement Observatory In the Virginia Living Museum provides daytime observations of the sun as well as periodic nighttime views of the stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies and other celestial wonders using a variety of professional astronomical tools, including a 10-inch Meade telescope. Star parties with portable telescopes take place every second Saturday of the month and on special occasions depending on the weather.
“The center of the universe”, as the locals call Ashland, is home to the Keeble Observatory at Randolph-Macon College. The observatory houses a state-of-the-art Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 40-centimeter primary mirror. The observatory is open to the public weekly when the school is busy and admission is free.
Meadowkirk at Delta Farm The Brinton Observatory has a 12-inch Meade telescope that offers breathtaking views of the solar system, stars, and some space objects during the one to one and a half hour Stargazing Nights program led by experts from the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) ). The topics range from beginners to advanced and are reserved in advance.
Stargazing in Virginia first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.