GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted April
    5th, 2021


    3 Ways to Enjoy the Night Skies When
    You Camp


    Happy Camper Blog



    Camping and
    stargazing go hand in hand, since once you get away from the bright lights of
    the city, the dark skies make it easier to spot constellations and other
    celestial wonders. So we asked an expert, Dave Warner, who is the Director
    for Educational Outreach for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society
    and a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, for a few tips on making the most of
    the night skies when you camp. Here’s what he suggests:


    1. Download an App Before You

    There are many stargazing apps available. Some are free and others
    can be downloaded for a nominal fee. The app Warner likes to use is called
    STAR WALK 2. “I think It is the
    easiest to use,” he says. To use the app, just point your device at the sky
    to identify stars, constellations, planets, satellites, asteroids, comets,
    the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other
    celestial bodies in real time. The
    app is available for iPhone and Android phones
    on the Apple App
    Store and on Google Play.

    There’s even an app that can help you identify satellites. “I use
    the GoSatWatch app which is also available
    for iPhones. It will not only show if or when the International Space Station
    is flying overhead but will also graphically depict its motion across the
    night sky against the background of the moon and stars, making it easy to
    identify. If you see satellites flying overhead, it will tell you which one
    it is that you’re looking at.” Warner says the best time to view satellites
    is right after sunset, as soon as it’s dark enough to begin spotting them. By
    11:00 pm or midnight, they’ll be sufficiently in Earth’s shadow so they won’t
    be visible anymore.

    2. Take a Full Moon

    If you plan your camping trip to coincide with a full moon, you
    can take a very enjoyable hike with the bright glow of the moon lighting your
    way. Bring along a pair of binoculars and you can try to spot unique features
    on the moon such as lunar maria (seas) as well as lunar landforms like
    mountains, valleys and Tranquility Base, the landing site of Apollo 11 and
    where Astronaut Neil Armstrong performed his historic moonwalk. “When we look
    at the full moon we’re seeing the sunlight straight down on the moon similar
    to our noon-day sun on Earth.” Warner says. “We can see more features in the
    rocks, mountains and valleys in the early morning or late evening when the
    sun’s rays are at a sharp angle to the side than in the middle of the day
    when the Sun is directly overhead.” You can find a calendar of full moons for
    the rest of the year and their names at space.com.

    3. Go Planet

    You might think astronomy activities are something you would only
    do after sunset, but if it’s planets you want to see, there’s a different
    time frame involved. “Other than Mars, we don’t have any planets that are
    visible after sunset, so right now, to see planets like Jupiter and Saturn,
    campers would have to get up early in the morning, before the sun comes up,
    to see the planets,” Warner says. “I like to suggest that if people have
    binoculars, and it doesn’t need to be a really powerful set of binoculars,
    that they rest them on a tripod or a fence post or a rock or anything else
    that’s sturdy, and they’ll actually be able to see Jupiter’s

    Other resources Warner recommends are timeanddate.com for planet rise and
    set times, moon phases and lunar eclipse information specific to the viewer’s
    location and earthsky.org that offers monthly
    charts for the night sky. You can also go to skymaps.com/downloads.html to download
    and print a PDF of an Evening Sky Map. New sky charts are posted at the
    beginning of each month. This two-page guide to the night sky is suitable for
    all sky watchers, including newcomers to astronomy.

    Of course, another valuable resource you can use is GoCampingAmerica.com,
    where you can enter your destination of choice and find a great campground
    where you and your family can stargaze to your heart’s