7 Steps and Tips for Stargazing

Named the most under-the-radar stargazing destination in the United States, a trip to West Virginia is sure to be one that you won’t regret. Offering breathtaking views of the night sky, anyone can lay back in the soft grass, relax and soak in the great beyond. 

Here are 7 steps and tips to get you started on your stargazing journey:

1. Be Prepared

It gets quite chilly outside in the mountains at night. Be sure to check the weather and cloud coverage before setting out on the trip. You’ll be outside for at least an hour to clearly see the stars, so it’s easy to get cold.

If you do find yourself getting chilly, grab a coat, gloves or hat from one of the carefully curated shops and boutiques dotted throughout Almost Heaven. 

Though every night in West Virginia brings with it stunning views, evenings with less cloud coverage are typically the perfect time to catch vibrant galaxy views. Cozy up with your favorite fleece and settle in for a peek into the true “nightlife” of the Mountain State.

2. Observation Sight

Choosing an observation site is often the most important part of stargazing. Wherever you choose to observe from, you want to be able to see the stars dotting the night sky as clearly as you can.

The stars can be seen from nearly every location in West Virginia, but some spots boast views sure to take your breath away.

We recommend choosing a dark spot in a field or mountain top—far enough away from lights or trees to avoid any obstructions in your view. Our favorite stargazing locations are Seneca Rocks, National Coal Heritage Area, Calhoun County Park and Canaan Valley Resort State Park.

3. Light Pollution

Did you know that in the world of stargazing light can be a form of pollution? The sparkling stars that light up the heavens actually are much easier to see in West Virginia—thanks to our lack of light pollution.

Almost Heaven is the lucky home of vast forest-scapes and rural destinations, each boasting very little light pollution. By producing less street and city light than other areas in the country, the stars appear to shine brighter and more clearly in West Virginia. 

We recommend staying at one of our campsites if you are looking for an off-the-grid, overnight stargazing option.

4. Dark Adaptation

With some of the darkest skies in the nation, it’s not hard to find a good observation sweet spot nearby. Once you find your perfect spot outside, it takes around 30 minutes for the naked eye to adjust to the darkness.

We recommend turning your cell phone on silent, clicking off the flashlights and soaking up the extraordinary view ready to appear above.

5. “Moving” Stars

When looking at the dark sky with a naked eye or telescope the stars appear to be moving, but actually—you’re the one on the move. As the Earth rotates, the sun, constellations and moon rise and set, giving the appearance of “moving” stars.

One of our favorite parts of stargazing during autumn is that the subtle changes in fall foliage and the fall sky are intertwined—offering beautiful views during both the day and night. All Almost Heaven skies are truly unique.

6. Bring Along A Stargazing Crew

While the peace and quiet of stargazing can be serene on your own, it’s just as fun with family or friends. Going out to stargaze is a great way to introduce kids to basic astronomy, offering an exciting way to think about the universe and beyond.

Whether you’re 7 or 70, the night sky is something that captivates the mind and invites the imagination to explore. There is always something new to learn about space.

7. Don’t Wait To Get Started

It’s never too late to start your stargazing career. Without fail, the sun will set on our rolling hills each night and the twinkling stars appear for your soul to drool over. If you’re looking for things to do and don’t want to spend a fortune, or any money at all, stargazing in our Mountain State may be the perfect fit.

For something more interactive, check out the Green Bank Observatory and use the nation’s largest fully steerable telescope.

Experiencing the full vividness of the stars in West Virginia is an incomparable adventure. Thriving in natural simplicity, the stars and the mountains together evoke a sense of peace you can’t feel anywhere else. 

What will you do in West Virginia after the sun goes down?

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This post was last updated on March 6, 2023