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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Garner

My Stargazing Tips for Summer Skywatching

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

With the long days of summer comes a great opportunity for stargazing. Gaze up at the night sky and witness the beauty of constellations, planets, and meteors burning across the darkness. Whether you’re an experienced stargazer or a beginner, here are some tips to make your sky watching experience as enjoyable as possible!

What To Look For In The Summer Night Sky

Nothing is quite as magical as a night of stargazing. But with billions of stars in our universe, it can be hard to know where to start looking. To help you make the most of your night sky viewing this summer, here is a quick guide to some of the best sights that await you.

Beehive Cluster

Messier 44 – the Beehive Cluster
Messier 44 – the Beehive Cluster, image: Giuseppe Donatiello (CC0 1.0)

The Beehive Cluster is a bright star cluster located in the constellation Cancer. It consists of over 1,000 stars and lies approximately 600 light years away from earth. You can find it by locating the bright star Regulus in Leo and then going eastward until you reach Cancer - if you look closely enough, you'll see a faint hazy patch in the sky which marks the location of this cluster. The Beehive Cluster looks particularly beautiful through binoculars or a telescope; its dense core is densely populated with stars that seem to glow like bees buzzing around their hive!

Coma Star Cluster

The Coma Star Cluster by nasa
Coma Cluster. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/L. Jenkins (GSFC)

The Coma Star Cluster is another stunning sight to behold on clear nights. It's located within the constellation Coma Berenices and contains over 1000 stars. You can find it quite easily by looking northeast from Alkaid (the tail star at the end of Ursa Major) for about three fists' widths; there should be an obvious fuzzy patch in the sky marking its location. This cluster makes for great viewing through binoculars or a telescope - its many stars are visible even without visual aid!

Constellation Scorpius

The constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion is visible above the southern horizon this summer.
The constellation of Scorpius (Image credit: NASA)

Finally, we have Scorpius - one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky. It's easy to spot due to its distinctive shape; it looks like a giant scorpion with two claws reaching out towards north and south directions respectively. Its brightest stars form an arc that resembles its namesake creature's tail - so make sure to keep an eye out for them! Look eastward after sunset during summer months and you won't miss Scorpius' unmistakable shape!

Whether you're a beginner stargazer or an experienced one, there are plenty of wonders waiting for you up in our night skies this summer season! From clusters such as Beehive and Coma Star Clusters, to constellations such as Scorpius, there are plenty of sights that will leave you transfixed for hours on end! So grab your binoculars and head outside tonight - there's no telling what kind of celestial beauty awaits you!

Incredible Stargazing Spots this Summer

Death Valley National Park - California

Located within California’s Mojave Desert, Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. This national park offers some of the darkest skies in America which makes it an ideal spot for stargazing. Death Valley boasts over 600 square miles of clear views with minimal light pollution and minimal cloud coverage, so you’re sure to have a stellar view of the night sky.

Cherry Springs State Park - Pennsylvania

Cherry Springs State Park has been designated as one of America’s official Dark Sky Parks due to its excellent visibility and lack of light pollution. The park features some incredible views of stars, galaxies, and constellations due to its high elevation (2,300 feet). Cherry Springs also offers several astronomy programs that are ideal for novice astronomers who are looking to learn more about our night sky.

Natural Bridges National Monument - Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument was designated as America’s first International Dark Sky Park back in 2007 due to its excellent visibility and lack of light pollution. This quiet monument lies deep within Utah’s canyon country which provides spectacular views year-round. In addition to being able to witness some amazing sights through your telescope or binoculars, you can also take part in guided night sky tours led by experienced astronomers throughout the summer months.

Conclusion: No matter where you decide to go stargazing this summer, make sure that you bring along your camping gear and supplies so that you can stay comfortable while enjoying these magnificent sights! If you ever feel unsure about what equipment you need or how best to observe stars in any given area, there are plenty of online resources available that provide helpful tips and advice on getting the most out of your stargazing experience.

Set Your Sights on Deep Sky Objects

Deep sky objects are celestial bodies located outside our solar system—things like nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, etc… They may not be visible with just your eyesight but if you have binoculars or a telescope then they will appear brighter and clearer against the night sky. Some things you might see include Andromeda Galaxy and Orion Nebula which are both must-sees for any star watcher!

Simple Binoculars for excellent Summer Sky watch

Summer sky watch is a great activity for beginners just getting into stargazing. But the best way to experience the night sky is through a pair of binoculars. A good-quality pair of binoculars can provide an excellent entry point for anyone wanting to explore and enjoy the sky during the summer months.

FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.

image of Celestron – Outland X 8x42 Binoculars

Highlights: Multi-coated lenses to provide excellent resolution and high contrast images. Lenses are made of BaK-4 glass prisms in order to improve color fidelity. Ergonomic design for maximum comfort & soft protective carry pouch. No-Fault Lifetime Warranty!

Helpful review: "This was my first ever binoculars I’ve ever owned so I didn’t want to spend so much on the first one. I went through all the reviews to see which had great feedback at a reasonable price and ultimately decided on this. And is it absolutely amazing! Came exactly as described and its so sleek and comfortable and well made! Its also super easy to use and focus, its light so using it is easy. I could see the top of the mountain behind our backyard so clear! The weight really is great, since holding this for a longer time isn't a burden. Its also comfortable to hold, specially for a female, and the case and covers are such a great bonus. Highly highly recommend!" - MJLV

Get it from Amazon now: $53.99 $62.99 & FREE Returns

Trending review: "Love the compact design even if it loses a little bit of the light compared to a more traditional style. I can't tell the difference, personally.Great eye relief, easy adjustable cups for viewing with and without glasses.. and the highest power set of glass you can use without needing a tripod to keep the image steady. I love laying back at a campsite and looking up in the night sky with these (moon gazing is GREAT with these), or scouting deep valleys, looking for small caves in a far away mountain side, etc.. Just awesome binos! Rugged and high quality". - Happy Camper

Get it from Amazon now: $53.99 $62.99 & FREE Returns

Reassuring review: "I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the quality. In a comparison test, this binocular did better than my two other 10x50 binoculars that cost 2 to 3 times more. It feels durable. Get it when it's on sale. It will definitely make the other brands feel like a waste of money". - Weirdest

Get it from Amazon now: $53.99 $62.99 & FREE Returns

image of SkyGenius 10 x 50 Binoculars

Highlights: 10x magnification allows you to see more of the what's around you, 50mm objective lenses to gather more light, Lightweight construction- 1.8 pounds only! , Porro prism design - ideal for stargazing.

Helpful review: "My brother teaches astronomy and recommended I get 10x50 for hand-held, quick binocular viewing. They are strong enough to give a satisfying view of many night sky objects, while not being so strong as to be shaky and need a tripod. These arrived a day early. I was SO impressed with the way they were packaged. I'd never seen that type of form-fitting, tubular bubble wrap. I'm keeping it, for any time I need to travel with them. What I hadn't noticed in the description, is that they come with a lovely nylon carrying case, with a strap. They even included a lens cleaning cloth in a ziploc bag. Also, there are wonderful silicone lens covers. The small ones attach to the neck strap and the larger ones attach to straps on the front, so they drop out of the way, but are never lost, when they are removed. A helpful booklet is included. The lovely silicone/rubber coating seems protective as well as comfortable to hold. I went right out and enjoyed a delicate view of the Orion Nebula and the details on a lemon-chiffon colored moon. They will see lots of use, bird and wildlife watching here, as well. I love the experience of the extra, well thought out add-ons." - DebraC

Get it from Amazon now: $32.99 - $57.99 & FREE Returns

Trending review: "Clear and accurate would be my first impression of these binoculars. I am prepared to give them a 5 star rating even if I don't really feel like I can reach out and touch the moon tonight. They feel really well built; there is nothing rattling around inside, They are heavily built. and the parts that move do so smoothly like they are moving through a highly viscous liquid. The optics are crisp and un-distorted. There is no apparent chromatic aberration. Rubberized coating all over makes them feel very secure in the hand, and like they might survive a drop of some feet without damage. Focus is smooth, quick, and stable; the right diopter adjustment is solid as well. Front lens caps are secured to the front pivot and rear lens caps are meant to be attached to the included strap, which is the only inexpensive feeling piece of the equipment. I have not used them at night since I just received them in the mail. I took them outside just now in New York city and looked up and down first avenue. I could see objects clearly that are easily half a mile away or more. The small print on parking signs was legible from 4 blocks. I, like many people, have received items from Amazon that are disappointing; this pair of binoculars is not one of them. There were three choices in this price range all with the same rating. I went with these because, although they were the most expensive of the three, they had the highest number of ratings and were above 90% 4 and 5 stars combined. That is generally what I go with when purchasing, and it has rarely steered me wrong. I am sure that others who have given this item bad reviews are telling the truth and have gotten lemons in the mail. If you are one of the unlucky ones and get something unacceptable I suggest you return them and ask for another pair, rather than simply a refund." - motherofinvention

Get it from Amazon now: $32.99 - $57.99 & FREE Returns

Reassuring review: "I'm Using for spotting satellites and other large astronomical features. These far surpassed expectations! Fit, finish, and function are above expectations, no issues. Brighter, clearer, and sturdier than other < $100 binoculars I've used. With naked eye and light pollution, I can only see stars to about magnitude 2.5 with naked eye, and I was easily seeing magnitude 6 stars through these. I can pick out Jupiter's moons dots if in center of view - the only downside is they do suffer from edge to edge focus, the center 4.5° view is crisp and sharp, but the last 2° of the 6.5° Field of View gradually become out of focus more the further you look from center. Points of light in the sky make it seem worse, look great on ground objects. To get edge to edge crisp images of equal brightness, I'd need to spend 10 times as much, so I'm very impressed! I would not hesitate to suggest these for anybody wanting to play with astronomy, and look at the solar system, or for sporting events and wildlife. I also purchased the Ueasy L-Type Metal Binocular Fixed Bracket which then easily mounted onto a Manfrotto monopod for super steady viewing. Without the bracket and a tripod or monopod, you need to be Very steady to catch as much. With the monopod, ease of use beats entry level priced telescopes for familiarizing yourself with what's "out there". The focus isn't nearly as noticeable in full light and terrestrial objects appear clear for nearly the full field of view." - Troy, just troy.

Get it from Amazon now: $32.99 - $57.99 & FREE Returns

Summer Skywatching: Pack Smartly!

It’s important to be prepared when you go out in search of stars. Make sure to bring along items like sunblock, warm clothes (for chilly evenings), binoculars, and a star chart or guide book. Laying out a blanket or camping chair can also make it easier to stay comfortable and focus on the sky. Don’t forget snacks and drinks too!

Summer Skywatching, Conclusion:

Stargazing is one of those activities that everyone should experience at least once in their life. It’s an incredible thing to witness—the stars twinkling high above us in vast numbers beyond what we could ever count. So get out there this summer under clear skies with all your gear and start exploring our universe! Who knows what wonders await us? Happy star watching!

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