Living in New York City, it can be tough to teach your kids to reach for the stars when you can hardly see them. But you might be surprised by the Big Apple’s stargazing options. If you’re looking to lay eyes on our neighboring celestial bodies you actually have quite a few year-round options to explore. The annual Perseid meteor shower is coming up later this month, with the best viewing date on August 11 and 12, so read on to plan your viewing spot now.
Seeing Stars with The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (AAA)
The High Line (10th Avenue and 14th Street)
Every Tuesday night from April through the end of October, curious children and adults are invited to meet near the 14th Street entrance, just south of the Standard Hotel, beginning at dusk (around 7:30 pm) for two hours of guided observation. Anyone with a telescope or binoculars is encouraged to bring theirs, but the Association will also provide some of their own, and members are very generous about sharing, as long as you don’t mind waiting your turn (think of it as teaching your kids two skills for the price of one). Get more info here.
Prospect Park (9th Street and Prospect Park West)
Once a month from May through October one Wednesday a month, the AAA will be on Prospect Park’s Long Meadow near the ball fields to seek out Mars, Saturn and plenty of stars. They’ll be there from dusk until about 11:00 pm – catch them on August 7, September 11 and October 9.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade (Furman Avenue and Old Fulton Street)
Every Thursday night from April to September at 8:30 pm look for the Syfy telescopes at Pier 1. You’ll see some spectacular views of not only the Earth and sky, but also of the East River, Upper New York Bay, and Lower Manhattan lit up for the evening. Get more info here.
The Inwood Astronomy Project
Supported by the AAA, this project is hosted by Jason Kendall who has been a member of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Solar System Ambassador Program since 2009. All of his talks, which are free, open to the public and proudly family friendly, feature official NASA materials. His regular Saturday night spot for stargazing is the top of Inwood Hill Park in Bear Rock Meadow, touted as the “best place to see the stars in Manhattan.” On the night of August 11, he’ll be there for the Perseid Meteor Shower. While the best viewing times are way past kids’ bedtimes (1:00 am to 4:00 am), you’ll still see plenty of action when the skies go dark. Check out his calendar for new updates.
The Indoor Sky
While all of the above events are free – and open to the elements, including the humidity of summer and the deep freeze of winter – the American Museum of Natural History offers an indoor option. Step inside their perennially temperature controlled facility to take an interactive tour of the universe with a view of the changing night sky with Journey to the Stars. Peer into a Zeiss Mark IX star projector or travel to the edge of the observable universe with the Digital Universe Atlas, a scientifically accurate 3D atlas of the known universe assembled and maintained by Museum scientists. The show runs every half hour from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm Mon. – Fri., except Wednesdays when the first show is at 11:00 am; and on Sat. and Sun. between 10:30 am and 5:00 pm.
Where is your family’s fave place to star gaze?
— Alina Adams