Whether looking to spend a romantic night stargazing or just wanting to take a peek at these marvels, there are quite a few places on the Main Line to do so. Keep in mind: Conditions for the best stargazing can be achieved only when the night is dark and dry, the sky is clear, there is no haze and very little pollution. Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties are known to be home to many beautiful open fields. The key for any interested stargazer is the higher the spot, the better.
These four spots fit the bill:
Built in 1996, Bradstreet Observatory is owned and operated by Eastern University. The public has been visiting the observatory on Tuesday evenings for the past 20 years. If interested in seeing celestial objects illuminating the night skies, sign up early, as most sessions fill to capacity.
1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, (610) 341-1390.
Concerts Under the Stars
Upper Merion Parks and Recreation hosts their 33rd annual free concert under the stars series this summer where guests can stretch out along a sloping hill while enjoying music from local artists. A great place to stargaze and enjoy music, this event also offers food and a beer garden.
175 W. Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, (610) 265-1071.
Star Party at Marsh Creek State Park
On July 1, the members of ChesMont Astronomical Society will host a free star party at the lower parking lot of Marsh Creek State Park . The Marsh Creek parties, held around the first lunar quarter, focus on observing the moon, planets and bright deep sky objects. Those attending will be able to view the nighttime sky using society members’ telescopes and live view star cameras.
675 Park Road, Downingtown, (610) 458-5119.
Valley Forge National Park Public Star Parties
During this series of free star parties, visitors can use telescopes and binoculars to look for celestial bodies such as planets, the moon, constellations, galaxies, star clusters, comets, meteors, satellites and more. Held on Valley Forge’s model airplane field, star parties are hosted by Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers.
2017 dates include July 29 from 8-11 p.m., Aug. 26 from 7:30-11 p.m., Sept. 30 from 6:30-11 p.m., Oct. 28 from 6:00-11 p.m. and Nov. 25 from 5-11 p.m.
1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (484) 238-0960.
Upcoming Astronomical Events:
June 24: New Moon
The moon will be located on the same side of the earth as the sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters.
July 9: Full Moon
Those looking to observe the craters of our moon will have the best chance when it’s fully visible in the night sky.
July 29 – 30: Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower
The Delta Aquarids is a shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23 and will peaks this year on the night of July 29 and morning of July 30. The crescent moon will set by midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.
August 11 – 12: Perseids Meteor Shower
The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.
August 21: Total Solar Eclipse
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the Sun’s outer atmosphere. This is a rare event for viewers in the United States. The last total solar eclipse visible in the continental U.S. occurred in 1979 and the next one will not take place until 2024.
September 5: Neptune at Opposition
The blue giant will be at its closest approach to earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible throughout the night, appearing as a small blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.