How to Start

Stargazing

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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Activity 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.