Stargaze Like A Pro: The Best Places To See Stars In Florida
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Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, theme parks, and warm weather. However, it is also a great place to stargaze. With its clear skies and low light pollution, you will find some of the best places to see stars in Florida as well as other celestial bodies in the night sky in the country once you get away from the major cities.
At the bottom of this article, I have placed links for stargazing and astronomy associations as well as other links to help you plan your trip. (Hint: It’s Not Near Disney World). But if you would like to jump to a certain destination, this table of contents will help you:
Why Florida is a Great Place to See the Stars at Night – Best Places To See Stars In Florida
Florida is known for its sunny beaches and theme parks, but it’s also a great place to stargaze at night even with a pair of binoculars. Once you remove the artificial lights and suburban light pollution and get away from the usual tourist destinations.
These bright lights also affects our sea turtles, which is why many hotels and other locations on the beach ask that you pull the curtains before turning on the lights. The Florida night sky offers an unforgettable experience not offered elsewhere. Here are a few reasons why:
International Space Station
Florida is home to the Kennedy Space Center, which is the launch site for NASA’s rockets and the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is the third-brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon and is visible from Florida at certain times of the year.
I receive a text when the Space Station will be over head from where I live. It’s truly a great sight to see as it moves across the sky, and it’s a reminder of the incredible achievements of human space exploration.
The Milky Way is a stunning sight to see in the night sky, and Florida’s dark skies offers a great way with an ideal place to observe it.
Away from the city lights, the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye, and it’s a breathtaking view. The best time to see it is during the summer months when it’s high in the sky.
Shooting Stars and Meteor Showers
Florida is a great place to see shooting stars, also known as meteors. The state is home to several meteor showers throughout the year, including the Perseids in August and the Geminids in December.
It’s always so exciting to me when I see shooting stars. I have to make a wish. The perfect place to see shooting stars is where it is darkest. Living in the country like I do, I see them often at night because there are no streetlights.
Where are the top places in Florida as well as the best spots in the United States to see meteor showers? Florida’s National Parks.
At certain times, the number of shooting stars visible in the sky can be quite high, making for a memorable stargazing experience.
Florida’s First Dark Sky Park
Florida’s first Dark Sky Park is located in Harmony, a small town in Osceola County. The park was designated by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2018, and it has quickly become a popular destination for stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts.
The park covers an area of 10 acres and is located just a short drive from Orlando. It features a variety of amenities for visitors, including picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground for children.
The park is open 24/7, and visitors are welcome to bring their telescopes and other stargazing equipment. One of the unique features of the park is its “dark sky” lighting.
The park’s lighting is designed to minimize light pollution and preserve the natural darkness of the night sky. This makes it an ideal location for stargazing, as visitors can see a wide variety of celestial objects, including stars, planets, and galaxies.
The park also offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. These include guided stargazing tours, astronomy lectures, and workshops on astrophotography.
Visitors can also participate in citizen science projects, such as monitoring light pollution levels and tracking the migration of birds and other animals.
Where Are the Darkest Skies in Florida And Best Places To See Stars In Florida
Florida may be known for its sunny beaches and warm weather, but it’s also a great place to stargaze. Unfortunately, with so much light pollution in urban areas, it can be difficult to find a spot with truly dark skies.
In Florida, in clear nights with good weather conditions, you can see thousands of stars in many places throughout the state once you get away from bright city lights.
Here are some of the best places to go for a clear view of the stars in Florida.
1. Big Cypress National Preserve
Located in southern Florida, Big Cypress National Preserve is a vast wilderness area with minimal light pollution. Visitors can camp overnight in designated areas and enjoy the stars without any distractions.
The preserve offers ranger-led night hikes and astronomy programs, making it a great spot for both beginner and experienced stargazers.
2. Everglades National Park
Another southern Florida location, Everglades National Park offers some of the darkest skies in the state. The park’s remote location and lack of development make it an ideal spot for stargazing.
Simply put. It is very dark. Visitors can take a ranger-led astronomy tour or simply find a quiet spot to set up a telescope.
3. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Located in central Florida, not too far from Walt Disney World and all the Orlando theme parks lies Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. It is absolutely one of the best places to see stars in Florida.
This Florida State Park is a designated dark sky site and Dark Sky Park, meaning it has been recognized for its exceptional stargazing opportunities.
One of the best things about this park is that it offers camping and stargazing events throughout the year, making it a popular destination for amateur astronomers.
Florida State Parks do close at dusk. If you plan to star watch on a clear night sky, be sure you have a campsite in the park. Keep in mind especially during winter months, it may be difficult to secure a camping site. Register ahead.
Kissimmee State Park does offer reservations to an astronomy pad site. You will need to register online so check your star chart and pick the best time for you to visit this popular spot for some amazing Florida stargazing at this certified dark sky park.
4. Cedar Key
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Cedar Key is a small town with minimal light pollution. Visitors can enjoy excellent stargazing opportunities from the beach or take a boat out into the Gulf for an even clearer view.
The town also hosts an annual stargazing event, the Cedar Key Star Party, which attracts astronomers from all over the country.
5. Big Pine Key, Key Largo, Key West and the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys offer some of the best stargazing opportunities in the state. Visitors can enjoy clear skies and a lack of light pollution on any of the islands.
Key West is known for its nightly Sunset Celebration, which is a great time to see the stars.
6. St. George Island
St. George Island is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico and one of my favorite annual destinations. It is also home to some of the best stargazing in the state. Visitors can enjoy clear skies and a lack of light pollution on the island.
7. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles west of Key West and offers visitors a chance to see the stars in a remote setting. It is one of the darkest places not only in the United States but the world.
The park is known for its clear skies and lack of light pollution. You can also camp on Dry Tortugas. After spending the day exploring Fort Jefferson and snorkeling around the islands, get ready to relax and watch the night show.
8. Tamiami Trail
Tamiami Trail is a scenic highway that runs through the heart of the Everglades and offers visitors a chance to see the stars in a natural setting. Visitors can pull off at any of the roadside stops to enjoy the night sky.
9. Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is located in the Florida Keys and offers visitors a chance to see the stars in a natural setting. The park is known for its clear skies and lack of light pollution.
10. Ocala National Forest
Ocala National Forest is located in central Florida and offers visitors a chance to see the stars in a natural setting. The forest is known for its dark skies and lack of light pollution.
You can camp inside the forest but again, reserve in advance.
11. High Springs
High Springs is a small town in northern Florida that offers visitors a chance to see the stars in a quiet, natural setting. The town is known for its stargazing events and offers visitors a chance to see the stars without the distraction of city lights.
Located near the beautiful Sante Fe River (Santa Fe River) and numerous crystal clear springs, High Springs is one of the best places to enjoy starry nights. You can even enjoy a full moon paddle along the river.
12. Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is located on the east coast of Florida and offers visitors a great view and ability to see the stars in a natural setting. The park is known for its clear skies and lack of light pollution.
Spend the day exploring, looking for sea turtles and enjoying the water. Then head to the State Park for a night of star viewing. Check with the State Park Office for camping sites for the best bet of being inside at night.
13. Space Coast
The Space Coast is home to some of the best stargazing in the state. Visitors can enjoy clear skies and a lack of light pollution on any of the beaches along the coast. The Kennedy Space Center also offers stargazing events throughout the year.
Resources for Best Places To See Stars In Florida
South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association
This association was formed in the 1960s after Dr. Joseph Dennison Fox retired from his position as Professor of Astronomy and History at the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Fox donated an optical tube assembly for a 6-inch f/15 refractor.
Today, this telescope, in its updated and restored state, resides in the Fox Observatory on the grounds of Broward County’s Markham Park. This county park, today, ohas several telescopes and is open to the public every Saturday night depending on the weather.
There is no fee. After you enter the county park, Fox Observatory is located near the dog park. Follow the signs.
The Chiefland Astronomy Village and What They Do
The Chiefland Astronomy Village is a unique community located in Chiefland, Florida, that is dedicated to stargazing. This village is home to some of the most advanced telescopes in the world, making it a popular destination for amateur and professional astronomers alike.
The village is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including a large astronomy center, an observatory, and a planetarium. These facilities are open to the public, and visitors can take guided tours of the village and participate in stargazing events.
The Chiefland Astronomy Village is also a hub for research and education. It hosts several astronomy workshops and seminars throughout the year, where experts from around the world come to share their knowledge and insights.
One of the unique features of the village is the dark sky policy. The village has strict regulations on outdoor lighting, which helps to minimize light pollution and preserve the natural beauty of the night sky. This policy has made the village one of the best places in Florida to see stars.
In addition to stargazing, the village offers a range of other activities for visitors. There are hiking trails, fishing spots, and wildlife viewing areas, making it a great place for a family vacation.
International Dark Sky Association and What They Do
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the natural night sky and reducing light pollution. They work to protect the night environment by promoting responsible outdoor lighting practices and raising awareness about the importance of dark skies.
One of IDA’s key initiatives is to designate Dark Sky Places, which are areas recognized for their exceptional starry skies and commitment to preserving them. Florida has two designated Dark Sky Places: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
In addition to designating Dark Sky Places, IDA also provides guidance on responsible lighting practices for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities. This includes using energy-efficient lighting, shielding lights to reduce glare and light pollution, and using motion sensors or timers to reduce unnecessary lighting.
IDA also conducts research and advocates for policies that promote dark skies, such as supporting legislation to reduce light pollution and working with the International Astronomical Union to promote dark sky protection worldwide.
By working with communities and individuals around the world, the International Dark Sky Association is helping to preserve the natural beauty of the night sky for future generations to enjoy.
Where To Find The Largest Telescope In Florida.
The largest telescope is located at the Orlando Science Center. Depending on the time of year as well as weather conditions, you can view the four moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and deep sky objects such as galaxies, Orion nebula, and binary star systems. Reservations are required.
Additional Information For Star Gazing Planning:
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Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH. Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise