In a city like New York, where stars of the human kind are very easy to spot, where does one go when they want to take a peek at the celestial versions? If you’re a star chaser, or curious to know more, then read on for these hidden gems located in a neighborhood near you.
First up on the list: Jason Kendall. He is your resident go-to guy when it comes to the topic of stargazing. He is a member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and also well versed on the topic of astronomy and where/when to find a star, planet, or comet! He has been sharing the beauty of the night skies with those who live in urban communities in NYC since 2008. He can be found at Inwood Hill Park (telescopes will be provided) from 8:30pm to 10:30pm, on Mondays twice a month. All are welcome to attend–it’s free!
Up next, the Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach. The program is an extension of Columbia University’s astronomy department, which seeks to provide opportunities to the public to learn more about this big universe. You can catch a 30-minute lecture, followed by a 90-minute stargazing rooftop session (as long as the weather permits), every Friday during the academic year at 7pm. Participants also have the chance to converse with astronomers, view slideshows, and more. It is located in the Pupin Physics Laboratory on the Morningside Campus. All events are free, children and adults are welcome, and telescopes are provided, so you have no excuse not to come out and enjoy this experience! The program also hosts other events throughout the year, including Family Astro, Sci-Fi film series, group visits, and much more.
It isn’t April yet, but when it is, be sure to visit the Highline, a public park on Manhattan’s upper west side. At the Highline, from April 5 to October 25, you can fall in love with the skies every Tuesday from sunset. Telescopes are provided by the AAA (Amateur Astronomers Association of New York) and long walks are encouraged, so bring a friend or two and enjoy 100% free stargazing.
For the true or aspiring star lover, a membership with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York is worth considering. The group holds public viewing events in the five boroughs and other locations throughout New York City each month. Many of the events are held in NYC parks, a cemetery or two, a museum, or other diverse locations. Attendees are invited to use equipment provided by members of the AAA but can also bring their own. These public events are free, and star lovers of all ages are invited to attend.
What would a list of stargazing spots be without the Hayden Planetarium? It’s been around since 1935 and has only gotten better since then. Located inside the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, this one is not to be missed. Although not outdoors, it still has a wide arsenal of striking visuals sure to engage both the young, old, and everyone in between. Be sure to check out the exhibition, Dark Universe, narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as it tells a story of Earth and galaxies far, far, away. Museum admission is required, in addition to tickets for the exhibition.
The NYC Parks program has many different opportunities to look up at the skies, all while enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Check out their website for times, dates, and locations of upcoming events.
Westchester Amateur Astronomers hosts free Star Parties on Saturdays, courtesy of the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Stargazing takes place after sunset at The Meadow in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, NY.
In Long Island, there are some spots available to look up at the sea of stars on the perfect night. Check out Vanderbilt Museum, which has year-round viewing! Montauk Observatory also hosts the occasional event to chart the skies.