When you have finished with your day’s adventures out on the road or maybe even hiking in Zion, it feels great to get back to your campsite to relax. Typically campers will set up some comfortable chairs to be able to relax outdoors as the sun goes down. Some will play games or cards, and others will stargaze. If you are lucky enough to have the open air around you on a clear evening, you could prepare yourself for a memorable sight by simply learning a few helpful tips to guide your way to the stars above.
If you haven’t spent much time looking up at the night sky, it it difficult to know what you are looking at when stargazing. Many people would say they have an easy time pointing out the North Star or the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), but otherwise might not know what to look for. Thera are a few easy things to learn to make stargazing more enjoyable, like spotting planets. If you are camping in the same spot for a few days, an easy way to tell whether you are looking at a star or a planet is its position. Planets will move in relation to the earth and how we see it. It is also said that planets do not twinkle as stars do.
What to Bring
If you aren’t planning on getting too into the hobby, you can certainly see the stars and point things out with the naked eye, so you don’t necessarily need any extra tools in order to study the sky. Some people find something to assist in their mapping of the skies by using a star chart – and usually these days, you can just use an app like NASA’s or SkyView to see the names of most of the planets and stars in front of you.
If you were interested in seeing a bit more, binoculars can go a long way to provide more of a deeper look into space. By using a tool to see things closer, you could see the moons of Jupiter or even see more of the stars in their clusters. Binoculars are a useful tool to have while on the road, especially if you enjoy other pastimes like watching wildlife.
Things to Look For
Once you have spotted the easy ones like the Big Dipper and the North Star, look for the other most popular and brightest constellations like Orion and the Belt along with Leo or Cassiopeia. Something else to be on the lookout for is easier to see when the moon is less bright. The Milky Way can be spotted from April – October as a mass of stars in a band – it changes its appearance in brightness and shape as we see it pass overhead.
Another passerby overhead can be fun to catch if you can plan it right – the ISS (International Space Station) makes its orbit and can be seen by us on the ground. It appears and disappears quickly, so it can be tricky to catch but looks like a star moving quickly across the sky. NASA has a website that shows you where to go for different opportunities to see the space station and try to catch a glimpse of it in orbit. There is also another ISS tracking website that shows where it is currently and its future path.
Enjoying Your View
Whether you are an avid astronomy enthusiast or just able to enjoy the view up above on a clear evening, it can be a beautiful sight to behold a starry night while on a trip or camping out. If you are looking at planets, stars, clusters, constellations, galaxies, or just the moon, you’ll want to make sure the experience is comfortable. If you have camp chairs or loungers, they can be perfect for laying all the way flat on your back to be able to stare directly up. It can be extra comfortable with generous options for pillows and blankets to settle in and take in the sights. If you don’t have lounge chairs, using a padded blanket or quilt works great to lay down picnic-style on the grass, or using oversized pillows can be great for large outdoor seats. Make sure to use very low light (or no light at all) to be able to maximize how much you can see in the sky. It is surprising how quickly your eyes adjust once much of the light is removed, you start to see just how bright the stars can be!
It can be very difficult to capture photographs of the stars and most of the night sky, so if you are hoping to get some photos of your constellations, it would be smart to plan ahead. You’ll need a nighttime camera app for your phone, otherwise it’s best to adjust your camera settings to be able to take photos in the dark.
Excited to start gazing under the stars? Start planning your camping adventure this summer at WillowWind RV Park. Stay with us during your trip to Zion or Bryce Canyon. Our park is also in position for many heavenly sights above and falls into the orbit of the ISS as well! If you are interested in making reservations (recommended for summer) contact us today to get started.
At WillowWind RV Park, we are happy to offer amenities to help you enjoy some of the comforts of home while staying with us. Our clubhouse is equipped with activities, a full kitchen, and space to gather, and our facilities are clean and comfortable for you to clean up and relax. Camp in one of our teepees on the grounds or drive in and park to stay with us for a while. Follow us and like us on Instagram and Facebook to see more of our community activities and to get more great tips to make your trips even better. Learn about Zion National Park before visiting or find out some great ways to stay active on the road.