The United States has several locations where you may see a sea of stars. And constellations with clear views because it is home to more than 60 International Dark Sky Parks.
But to comprehend astronomy better, you don’t have to spend the night in the wild. Travel around the USA and you’ll find visitor-friendly observatories, well-known planetariums, and significant telescopes that will pique your interest and leave you in awe, from the summits of mountains in Hawaii and Texas to the middle of the desert in Arizona and New Mexico.
National Observatory at Kitt Peak
One of the largest and most varied collections of research telescopes in the world may be found at Kitt Peak National Observatory, which is tucked away in the terracotta landscape outside of Tucson, Arizona. Daytime visitors have the option of self-directed, guided, or VIP tours of the grounds. Visit the cutting-edge McMath-Pierce Solar telescope or observe the sun through specialised telescopes. Both the well-liked Nightly Observing Programme and the more exclusive Dark Sky Discovery and Night of Marvellous Moon programmes draw tourists from near and far. While the three-day Astrophotography Workshop covers the fundamentals of shooting the night sky, the Overnight Telescope Observing Programme offers the chance to examine deep-sky phenomena under the instruction of an expert.
Visit the Tohono O’odham National Cultural Centre & Museum to conclude your trip and get a comprehensive understanding of the area’s Native American culture. Learn about Arizona’s natural heritage by touring the botanical garden at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, or visit Saguaro National Park to explore meandering desert trails surrounded by soaring cacti.
Observatories on Mauna Kea
There is more to Hawaii Island than just white sand and turquoise water. At an elevation of approximately 4,200 metres, Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain, is perched above a group of renowned observatories. Visitors should first go to the neighbouring Waimea W.M. Keck Observatory Headquarters to learn more about the observatories and to browse the gift store. To reach the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, continue climbing the mountain until you reach an elevation of about 2,800 metres. Without having to hike to the summit, this is the perfect location to gain a greater appreciation of the mountain and its observatories or view the stars.
It is advised to reserve a guided tour with a licenced business if you plan to visit the peak. Four-wheel drive is necessary for the trip, and many rental car agencies forbid their vehicles from driving through difficult terrain. At the top, galleries and exhibits on research and operations may be found in the W.M. Keck Observatory Visitor’s Centre. Admire views of the Keck 1 telescope dome and the island’s natural splendour.
For solitary stargazing, the backdrop of nearby beaches is ideal. Visit the farmer’s market and neighbourhood stores in downtown Hilo during the day. Visit Wailuku River State Park to observe the bubbling pools known as the Boiling Pots and the falling Rainbow Falls. Don’t pass up the chance to view a working ranch by taking a Waimea farm tour.
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is one of the most well-known observatories in the world. It is a Southern California landmark that has appeared in a number of Hollywood productions, including “La La Land” and “The Terminator.” The observatory is a public astronomy wonderland with a variety of telescopes. And educational exhibitions, star parties, and other special activities. Visit the Samual Oschin Planetarium to see live events rather than recordings. Watch “The Once and Future Griffith Observatory,” a documentary about the observatory’s past and current improvements, at the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theatre.