The clear skies above North Carolina make our state the perfect place to layout and look above. There are many great places to stargaze in NC, from along the Blue Ridge Parkways to the beaches of the Outer Banks. Leave the light pollution behind and take in the night sky!
Astronomy aficionados and constellation connoisseurs love North Carolina because of the dark skies above. There are many wonderful places to stargaze in NC. Some of the best places to watch the night skies are right here in Western North Carolina. Consider stargazing at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory near Burnsville, in the Pisgah National Forest, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in Hominy Valley.
Why should you stargaze in NC? The state’s elevation, low levels of light pollution, and moderate climate offer perfect views of the night sky. With so many state parks and recreation areas off the beaten track and away from city lights, you’ll find that North Carolina is a great destination for observing the stars above and much more!
Visitors and locals alike love to stargaze in NC. Let’s look at a few of the best places to take in the night sky right here in Western North Carolina.
Look for a one-of-a-kind place to stargaze in NC? The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, which is part of the Mayland Community College Earth to Sky Park, is just the spot.
The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is special for many reasons. You’ll find the largest public telescope in the state located here. This powerful tool will let you experience out-of-this-world sights like the eye of Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, and even into the Moon’s craters.
Planning a visit to Bare Dark Sky Observatory? You’ll need tickets, which start at just $5. You’ll find the events at the observatory both educational and entertaining, as the guides here are known for their astronomy knowledge and jokes.
Bare Dark Sky Observatory is located at 66 Energy Exchange Drive in Burnsville, NC.
There’s a surprise for star lovers standing in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) was once used by NASA to track satellites and manned space flights. Today, the research institute lets both visitors like you and acclaimed scientists learn more about Earth and space.
PARI is made up of about 30 buildings and is home to optical and radio telescopes. You’ll also find exhibits about earth and space science across the campus, many of which offering opportunities for hands-on learning.
Tours and public events at PARI are a great way to learn more about the stars and observe the heavens above. You’ll find the institute in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest at 1 PARI Drive in Rosman, NC.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is much more than a scenic daytime drive. After the sun sets, the sky above the Parkway turns into a visual masterpiece dotted with stars and planets forming beautiful constellations.
In fact, some of the best places for stargazing in NC are on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Consider stopping in Graveyard Fields at Milepost 418.8 to stop and see the stars. Graveyard Fields is noted as one of the best places in the country to view the Milky Way.
Craggy Dome Overlook at Milepost 364.1 is another great place to stop and see the stars on North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway.
Seeing the stars on the Blue Ridge Parkway is just a small part of what you can enjoy in Western North Carolina. Learn more about how to plan the perfect North Carolina mountain vacation.
Photographers and stargazers love heading to Hominy Valley to stargaze in NC. Located near Ashville and the Blue Ridge Parkway, this celestial destination is known for its low light pollution and easy access from U.S. 19.
You can find an album of starry photos taken at Hominy Valley on Flickr. These photos make it easy to see why this destination is a favorite spot for stargazing.
You get to Hominy Valley from Cashiers by taking U.S. 64 E to N.C. 280 E, then to N.C.-191 N. The drive should take less than 90 minutes.
The western side of the state isn’t the only place to stargaze in NC. You’ll likely enjoy the stellar views from the Uwharrie National Forest and Jordan Lake State Recreation Area when you’re in Central North Carolina. Ocracoke Island, Bald Head Island, and Oak Island are peak stargazing destinations in Eastern North Carolina and in the Outer Banks.
The best time to stargaze in NC can vary. Seasonality, weather patterns, and moon phases can affect the way you see the stars.
However, some experts believe the best time to stargaze in NC is in the Spring and Autumn. The lower humidity during these mild seasons reduces the haze in the sky and lets you truly take in the stars.
If you can plan it right, you’ll also likely enjoy stargazing during the days surrounding the New Moon. As beautiful as it is, light pollution from the moon can obstruct your view of the stars. New Moon dates for the rest of 2021 are:
In addition to watching out for the New Moon, you also might consider planning your stargazing around celestial events. You might be able to see the following astronomical events when you stargaze in NC:
The Asheville Astronomy Club is a great resource for those seeking to stargaze in NC. The club updates its Facebook page regularly with information about visible constellations, the best times to see the stars, and other need-to-knows.
Are you ready to have a stellar time taking in celestial views? Take time to stargaze in NC on your next mountain adventure with Landmark Vacations.
Feel like you’re right at home in any one of our luxurious North Carolina vacation rentals. Many of our rentals feature balconies and decks perfect for observing the sky right where you’re staying. There are many other features and amenities to enjoy with Landmark Vacation Rentals, from fully equipped kitchens to cabins with the details that matter to you. Make the most of your time in the mountains. Reach out to Landmark Vacation Rentals today at (877) 926-1780 or browse our vast selection of North Carolina vacation rental properties now.