A 360-degree panorama of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley at night. The Milky Way is visible as the arc in the center. A sailing stone is also seen below along with the tracks of other stones. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE PHOTO
Stargazing under some of the darkest night skies in the country can be an unforgettable experience — especially Death Valley.
The simple reason: darkness. With so few lights polluting the Death Valley night skies, stars are more visible there, harkening back to days when neither city lights or smog obscured the view.
Death Valley National park encourages people to look up during their visit and experience the wonder of its dark skies.
The dark skies can be attributed as well to Death Valley’s approach to lighting. Low energy, downward pointing lights at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, and other measures have helped people enjoy the stars.
Some of the best sites to view the stars include:
— Harmony Borax Wells
— Mesquite Sand Dunes
— Danders View
— Father Crowley Vista Point.
Seeing the stars at Death Valley can be an incredible part of your visit!
Here are a few suggestions for the best possible experience:
• Visit during the new moon! This is when the moon isn’t reflecting any light into the night sky and it is darkest.
• Stay out long enough! It takes about 30 minutes without looking at light for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
• Use a red light. Cover flashlights with red cellophane if possible. Red light has the least impact on adjusting your eyes.
• Seek a large horizon. If you are too close to large hills or mountains, they may block large areas of stars from view.
• Bring binoculars! Although not a telescope, even these can help bring a greater number of stars into focus.
• Location! Most every area of the park can be good for viewing, as long as you get a short ways from areas with light. Even getting a mile away from buildings or campgrounds can be a big help!