How to start


Stargazing lets you glimpse a whole new world that only comes alive at night.

Step 1

Make sure you’re in a forest or greenspace that is open after dark, or try gazing from your own backyard. It will be cooler at night so remember to wear layers.

Step 2

Skies are darkest and stars are easiest to see during a “new moon”. Search online for a lunar calendar to find out when during the month you’ll have a new moon.

Step 3

You can use binoculars or simply look with your unaided eyes. Try counting the number of stars you see or locating the North Star.

Step 4

Being out after dark also means you can look and listen for animals that only come out at night like fireflies, moths, bats, and owls.

Step 5

For more detailed information and activity ideas, download the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Night Explorer Activity Book.

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Exploration Ideas

  • Make a stargazing flashlight

    Looking at a white light after your eyes have adjusted to the dark will ruin your “night vision”, but looking at a red light will not. To make a “stargazing” flashlight, take a piece of red paper or cellophane and use it to cover the end of a white flashlight. Secure the paper using tape or a rubber band.

  • Go for a night walk

    If the full moon is up, the stars will be harder to see. Try going for a night walk instead. Let your eyes adjust to the moonlight by keeping your flashlight turned off, but available for safety if needed.

What to Bring

  • Plenty of water, even for short hikes — a gallon per person per day is a good guide
  • Snacks such as fruit or trail mix and empty bags to collect any garbage
  • Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Warm layers and a lightweight rain jacket
  • Travel size first aid kit
  • Map of the area you’ll be exploring and your emergency contact numbers
  • A small flashlight and batteries


Safety Tips

  • Bring a small flashlight or another source of light with you if you'll be out close to sunset.