photo by Shane Mayer-Gawlik

Summer Stargazing in Montana

June 1, 2021

by stephanie hobby

There’s a saying that, “If you’re lucky enough to be in Montana, you’re lucky enough.” That’s particularly true of summer stargazing in Montana. It’s comfortably warm, and pairs well with another favorite summer pastime: camping.  

For a particularly memorable getaway this year, consider pitching your tent in a dark sky destination. The state’s tourism department is working to establish an official Dark Sky Trail in Montana, but Ashley put together a detailed map to easily find campsites where you can take in the wonders of the universe. https://montana.darksky.ngo/dark-sky-destinations/  

For travel farther from home, Moore encourages families to download the free Meet Star Gazers app, which points you to great campgrounds nationwide. The app includes maps, weather, and some stunning astronomy photos to get you inspired. 

Investing in night sky viewing 

If your family is interesting in finding a good way to see the stars up close, Hannahoe recommends investing in high-quality gear. Too often, starter telescopes are hard to use, break easily, and don’t offer a much better view of the stars than what you can see with your naked eye. 

If you do want something more powerful and can make the investment, Hannahoe suggests the Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian reflector telescope. It retails for $550 online at www.telescope.com.  

Before you make the leap into owning your own scope, you can attend stargazing events and try out different scopes and talk to the astronomers to get an idea of what would be the best fit for your family. And a good pair of binoculars can be surprisingly effective, without the learning curve that comes with a telescope.

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