Urban stargazing for amateurs

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 2-8, 1998
Urban stargazing for amateurs
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Urban stargazing for amateurs
Question: Where are the best places to go stargazing in New York state? I recently purchased a telescope and camera, but haven’t the slightest clue where to go. Please help.

Miguel A. Trejo
New York, New York

University observatories are a great source of information
Adventure Adviser: You can stargaze virtually anywhere provided the skies are clear, you have the necessary equipment, and you’re positioned in a dark spot. And although viewing Uranus and Neptune from New York isn’t quite like surveying the skies from atop Mauna Kea, there’s still plenty around to get you started on your new adventure.

Since you are a newcomer, I’d suggest getting in touch with other stargazers so you can benefit from their experience. How about joining one of the numerous associations out there dedicated to amateur stargazing? Try the Freeport-based Amateur Observers’ Society of New York (516-489-2970), which has been around for over 30 years. As a member, you can participate in monthly meetings, observing sessions, stargazing weekends, and general gatherings. Many of the group’s observing outings take place on Fire Island, a notoriously good spot that requires a special stargazing permit (516-669-1000). By hooking into an association’s network, you’ll have access to recommendations and info from other stargazers. In addition to associations, there are several newsletters and magazines (Amateur Astronomy, for one) specifically geared to the newcomer.

University observatories are another great source of information and are often open to the public, with astronomy professors offering stargazing sessions. In New York, call Columbia’s observatory at 212-854-3278 for info on upcoming events. Going through an observatory will also give you a chance to try out other scopes and learn more about gazing. And finally, be sure to check out Outside’s monthly Stargazing diagram so you know what to look for when in the night sky.

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