Local Places (and beyond) to Skywatch at Night
RAC’s home area includes Raleigh, Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Fayetteville and surrounding communities.
Looking for a good observing site can be challenging. The Raleigh area is beautiful during the day – lots of trees, great public parks, and convenient shopping centers. However, at night parks close and light pollution obscures the night sky.
What do you want to Observe
To find an appropriate spot to skywatch, what you plan to observe is important. Do you need a clear horizon? Do you need darker skies? Do you need to set up a telescope? How late will you be out? If you aren’t sure, look online for the answers or you can email the club, [email protected].
Local Spots (Somewhat light polluted, but “open” after dark)
NOTE: Most Raleigh area parks close at sunset. Always check that where you intend to view is open and it is legal for you to be there after dark. Also, be sure to secure your belongings and always bring a friend or two for personal safety. This list is subject to change and may be out of date – they are intended as suggestions only.
- Falls Lake Dam
- Jordan Lake Dam
RAC does monthly skywatching sessions near Jordan Lake. Due to COVID-19, these sessions are currently not open to the public. The sessions are otherwise open to the public, but intended for people interested in the hobby; for example, learning to use their telescope. The facility has no bathroom, no food nor shelter nearby and has controlled entry. For a one-night astronomy experience, keep an eye out for our public nights.
Slightly Further (Camping may be required)
- Staunton River State Park (This park has received Dark Sky designation from IDA)
- Medoc Mountain State Park
- Grayson Highlands
- Outer Banks (just watch for sand scratching optics or getting into your electronics)
If you’re looking for a skywatching adventure, there are places around the world to go. There are star parties (where astronomers gather to observe together). And for special events, there may be a designated cruise or sightseeing trip to catch a glimpse of the action.