Stargazing in Arizona
Stargazing is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy whenever there’s a beautiful night sky. But we know that Arizona takes stargazing up a few notches. Flagstaff and Sedona have some stellar nighttime sights. According to Airbnb, those two cities top its list of 10 places to stargaze, base on the percentage of host profiles who promote stargazing as a selling point. No matter what city you’re in, you can find a dark sky to observe a starry night not far away.
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Home of the largest array of optical and radio telescopes in the world, Kitt Peak National Observatory is just fifty-six miles west-southwest of Tuscon. Kitt Peak offers a variety of programs including daytime tours and exhibits and nightly observing programs. Because this facility is so far from the lights of the city, the nighttime sky is a sight to behold. Not only will you sit under a blanket of stars, but use the telescopes to view planets, galaxies and more. Visit the official site here to plan your visit.
Established in 1894, making it one of the oldest observatories in the world, the Lowell Observatory has a long history of stunning nighttime skies, including the first detection of the expanding nature of the universe and the discovery of Pluto. Sitting high above the city of Flagstaff, this observatory provides visitors a beautiful nighttime sky. This is a great place to visit to learn about the historical discoveries made, but also to take in the billions of stars and galaxies above. Visit the official site here to learn more.
Designated as a dark sky community by the International Dark Sky Association, stargazing is one of the best things to do in Sedona. With over 300 dry, clear nights per year and virtually no light pollution, the nights here are spellbinding. Set up camp in the Sedona Verde Valley with other astronomers and stargazing lovers to view the skies, or sign up for a tour to learn about the stars you observe.
Payson’s skies occupy one of only three pure air ozone belts in the world and is an official dark sky location, meaning the stargazing here is unparalleled! A trip to Payson practically ensures that you’ll see constellations like Andromeda and Scorpius, not to mention planets like Venus, Mars and Saturn.
While it is popular for sunrises and sunsets, far away from city lights, Monument Valley is as breathtaking at night as it is during the day. Cloudy nights are rare in the Valley, but refer to the Clear Sky Chart if you’re hoping to visit on the darkest night possible.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is so big that it is split in half, into Saguaro East and Saguaro West, by Tucson — talk about a whole lot of stargazing space! It’s known for its cactus forests, but astronomer led stargazing sessions are popular here, too. Reservations for night hikes can be made by visiting the Tuscon Mountain District visitor center.
What better place to bask in our incredible solar system than overlooking Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon? Most nights offer a fabulous opportunity for stargazing at the rim of your choice, but, each year in June for eight days, the National Park Service hosts a Grand Canyon Star Party. Drawing astronomers from all across the country and guaranteeing over a week of awe-inspiring nights, this event is not one to miss.