With its numerous state parks, national parks and diverse natural landscapes, Utah is an ideal place for astronomy lovers, even for beginners. If you‘re looking for an easy entry into the world of dark skies, Utah offers many stellar stargazing opportunities for nature lovers. This American state is a part of The Great Western Starry Way of the Intermountain West. It also has the highest concentration of certified locations by International Dark-Sky where the Milky Way can be explored.
From Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and more in Southern Utah; Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and more in Southwestern Utah; to Antelope Island State Park, Dinosaur National Monument and more in Northern Utah, Utah boasts some of the finest dark skies in the world for experiencing natural wonders after the sunsets. Whether you’re a first-time observer or a seasoned astronomer, this destination is worth visiting for its breathtaking views of the night sky.
The Perfect Season to Go for Stargazing in Utah
The biggest attraction of Utah lies in its voluminous sky. It is one of the best destinations for Astro-Tourism in the world. The best part about stargazing in Utah is that it is an all-season activity; be it summer, winter or spring. Here are some tips on when and where to go for stargazing in Utah:
If you are out to explore the most luminous skies of Utah, summer is the best time for you to visit as you will be able to witness the core of the Milky Way, its center, and the highest concentration of stars. The Milky Way will be as spectacular as ever. During New Moons, the sky will be at its darkest and the stars will shine bright like diamonds. If you are lucky, you will see stars forming a teapot shape and the constellation of Sagittarius.
During winters, the intensity of the stars will be less and subtle and you will witness the outside edge of the galaxy. When it comes to stargazing in Utah’s national parks, winter is the best time to choose as the dry desert air above Utah’s Dark Sky parks holds lesser moisture than it does the rest of the year, which make it easier for viewers to explore the constellation with naked eye. As the sun goes down earlier in the day, more hours of darkness becomes a prize for stargazers.
Monthly Guide To View – The central Part of the Milky Way: The Galactic Core
March to November: The galactic core shines nightly.
- March–May: The galactic core will be visible before sunrise.
- June–August: One of the best months to view the Milky Way. The core is visible for most of the night.
- September–November: The Milky Way will be best seen in the early evening.
- November–February: The core is not witnessed in the northern hemisphere.
Stargazing with Children
Children can make the best Astro-tourists — maybe because their imaginations know no boundaries. The night sky is a way to keep their curiosity front of mind by encouraging them to find the constellations, a planet, or even make up their own stories about what they see.
For kids, Utah even has something special to offer. The National Park Service offers a Junior Ranger Night Explorer program, encouraging young park visitors to explore the starry side of national parks.
With vast expanses of sky untainted by artificial light, many parts of Utah offer amazing opportunities for stargazing. If you’re fascinated by the mysteries of the universe or simply want to take in the luminous magic of our solar system’s celestial bodies, stargazing in Utah is a great activity for all ages and levels of experience.