Stargazing is a part of who you are, and there’s no better way to share your passion than on a romantic stargazing adventure with your partner. Whether it’s your first time out together or your 100th, these tips can help make the experience a memorable one for years to come.
Where Should You Go Romantic Stargazing?
It’s possible to see stars from just about anywhere in the world, but some places are going to provide a better backdrop than others. There’s nothing wrong with spending the night in your backyard, but keep in mind you may not have the whole experience if you live in a city or a town.
To get the most out of your romantic stargazing adventure, scope out an area that’s known for being away from city lights and other forms of light pollution. It’s not a bad idea to test the space out before your romantic evening to ensure you can see even the faintest stars.
If you’re lucky enough, you may be close enough to one of several dark sky parks around the world. These areas are specifically set aside for the most beautiful stargazing experiences and have strict rules against light.
When Should You Go Romantic Stargazing?
Consider the following when you’re choosing the perfect day to head out on your romantic stargazing experience.
Minimize the Moon
To maximize the stargazing experience, it’s always best to spend time under the stars when the Moon is at its smallest. A New Moon is ideal, as there won’t be any light pollution from our closest neighbor keeping some stars from becoming visible. The New Moon doesn’t always land perfectly on the weekend, but four days on either side of it should still be dim enough to enjoy.
You can also luck out with a waning moon, which rises before the Sun early in the morning. When the Moon is at the third-quarter stage, it won’t reach the horizon until close to 6 a.m.
Wait for Astronomical Nighttime
After the Sun sets, the sky doesn’t immediately become dark. It’s actually necessary for the Sun to travel another 18 degrees below the horizon before the last light particles leave the atmosphere. At this point, the Earth has finally passed through twilight and entered astronomical nighttime.
In astronomical nighttime, the sky is as dark as it’s going to be for the rest of the night. In the summer months, it can take a few hours from sunset to reach this point, so plan accordingly. There’s no rule that says you can’t be at your location during twilight, watching as stars appear in the sky!
Find the Wandering Planets
Planets can make a great conversation piece during a romantic evening out, as they wander among the stars from night to night. They are also some of the brightest objects in the night sky, and a camera or telescope with some minor magnification can make out the planets in detail. It may even be possible to see Jupiter’s Galilean moons or Saturn’s rings.
Look for Shooting Stars
Several times during the year, the Earth passes through clouds of particles within our orbit. This phenomenon, known as a meteor shower, can be an incredible thing to watch with a loved one. The most significant meteor showers can produce upwards of 100 meteors an hour!
Even on a typical stargazing night, rocks or dust can enter the Earth’s atmosphere and streak across the sky before burning out. If you’ve chosen a dark enough spot, you’re likely to see a few. It can be fun to see who notices the most shooting stars on a given night. Don’t forget to make a wish!
Know Your Constellations
Some of the best-known objects in the night sky are constellations such as Ursa Major, Canis Major, and Orion the Hunter. Each constellation has a unique pattern of stars with varying brightness that makes them stand out among others. They similarly have unique stories from ancient times depicting their story in the sky.
Knowing the constellations also helps locate other objects in the night sky. We often talk about nebulae or planets being “in” constellations, so you know exactly where to look.
Take in the Galactic Center
The galactic center of our Milky Way is viewed as a milky swath across the sky. It’s not visible year-round and is most prevalent in the summer and fall months. Unless your romantic stargazing trip is happening in the early hours of the morning, shoot for June to August to see the Milky Way at night.
What Should You Bring for Romantic Stargazing?
To keep your date comfortable and enjoying the experience, you may want to bring along some of the following items.
Pack Layers and a Blanket
As the Sun goes down, so does the temperature. Even warm summer days can turn chilly without the Sun’s rays on us. If you’re out in a park or dark sky area, there may be nothing around to block the wind.
By bringing a few extra layers, you can plan for unforeseen drops in temperature or upticks in the wind. A blanket to sit on will protect you from the dew as it settles in on the grass. Try to bring what you need at the onset, as you don’t want to have to trek back to your vehicle or open a car door.
Bring Some Gear
A romantic stargazing experience doesn’t have to rely on technology to be incredible. That being said, being able to see Saturn’s rings or bring a nebula into view can leave your partner mesmerized.
Taking astrophotos can be a great bonding experience if you have a camera and tripod. There’s something awe-inspiring about capturing moments with someone special that you can put on your wall or as the background on your computer.
What’s a romantic getaway without some food? Bring some of his or her favorite snacks along with you to make the evening that much more special. If the area you’re in allows it, some wine or other alcoholic drink can help set the mood.
Music may not be an option everywhere you go, but some background noise can engage your sense of hearing and take stargazing to the next level. Consider any other individuals around you, and make sure you can still hear anything your partner says!
Plan for Darkness and Avoid Light
You may be with someone who’s not accustomed to working in the dark, but the last thing you need are sources of light to ruin your night vision. Light from a cell phone can affect your sight in the dark for upwards of 30 minutes.
Instead, use a red filter over a flashlight to preserve your night vision and enjoy your experience. Try to pack things that are easy to access and open when you need them.
Have a Backup Plan
In a worst-case scenario, cloud cover sets in, or a freak storm approaches and takes away your chance at stargazing. Always have a backup plan ready to go, just in case.
You can always default to something like a movie, but keep things star-related if you can. Perhaps you can adjust the time of your stargazing date to work around the weather. If all else fails, do you have access to a planetarium with an evening show? Maybe you can make the most of an exhibit at a museum that brings astronomy to life.
Romantic stargazing is a great way to bring together two things you really care about. It allows you to showcase who you are while introducing or sharing the experience with someone else.
Be sure to brush up on your astronomical knowledge and consider bringing some gear to really highlight the wonders of the cosmos. Make it an unforgettable experience with food, music, or other things that add to the ambiance.