THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

This is the best time of year for you to see the Milky Way. As a kid growing up on a farm in Princeton, I really took the nighttime sky for granted. I thought everyone everywhere could see what we saw.

In the pitch black, with no city lights, you wouldn't believe how deep into space you can see with the naked eye. I remember laying down on a blanket outside on hot summer nights, looking up at the nighttime sky, and looking at the Milky Way. It looked like a foggy, starry path right above my house that seemed to go on forever. A gigantic path...I thought to myself, that must be the route Santa Claus must follow when he travels around the world in December.

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FIND YOUR SPOT

If you don't get to see the beautiful Milky Way, it might be good to note that July and August are the best months to see it, here in the Northern Hemisphere. When the skies are clear and you are somewhere where city lights are NOT, the center of the galaxy becomes visible, and you can see billions and billions of stars out there all across the sky.

THE MOON

The moon, although lovely to see when it is full in the nighttime sky, can be too bright for Milky Way viewing. Because the moon will not be as bright over the next few days, it makes from now until July 8th a great time to view the Milky Way. You will also be able to see it on the following dates because the moon will give us a bit of a break:

  • July 28th through August 7th
  • August 26th through September 6th
  • September 24th through October 5th

According to Livescience.com, the best time to see the Milky Way is right before sunrise, and right after sunset, but remember; total darkness is your friend!

ADAPTATION

Another important note; Don't forget that your eyes need to adapt to the darkness, so it's best that you don't look at any smartphone or other bright, white light source after the sun sets.

FIND A DARK SKY WITH THIS APP

Maybe you would love to see the Milky Way but don't know where you should go to find complete darkness. There is a website called Find A Dark Sky Place or Dark Site Finder. You can also look up Light Pollution Map, to find a location that will work for you.

As always, I recommend that if you have kids, you take this time to spend with them and get a book or two along with a telescope from the library, to help them learn about the nighttime sky. The Great River Regional Libraries have telescopes that you can sign out with your library card, and of course, lots of books on space.

DO YOU NEED BINOCULARS OR A TELESCOPE?

Having a really good set of binoculars and a nice telescope can be nice to focus in on certain planets are stars, but is not always necessary.

 

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