Sky gazing is among the oldest leisure activities, and the night sky has fascinated people for centuries. On any starry night, people can enjoy the mystery and beauty of the heavens with a pair of binoculars and a chair. Even naked eye observations of the sky can reveal a great deal about the basics of astronomy. Taking your chair to the beach can produce some spectacular night time sky gazing on Hilton Head Island. Bringing along a telescope can further enhance your opportunity to peer at distant stars, planets, and even other galaxies.
As cities have grown, many have become too bright to admire the night sky. Taking in the night sky is a year-round activity in the lowcountry. Starry nights are meant for lying under the stars and watching super moons, moon rises, and meteor showers. The beach provides a dark and open sky, which is a necessity for successful stargazing. The Hilton Head beaches are unaffected by artificial illumination and are an ideal place to lay out and gaze. Spread out a picnic supper or take a kayak out on the water for a truly memorable experience.
Sky gazing can be rewarding if you know where, when, and how. Astronomy can be daunting for beginners, so start with learning the constellations or using star charts. Fall, winter, and spring offer the best times to star gaze. From the time the clocks go back in October to when they go forward in March, it’s considered observation season. When the moon is at its fullest, it washes out the light from the stars. With no moon at all, the Milky Way can be easily visible across the sky. Simply avoiding times when the moon is full will help you see a lot more. Sea Pines and Daufuskie are some popular and special places to sky gaze. Lesser known but ideal viewing spots include: Burkes Beach, Mitchellville Park, First Haul Creek Park, Pinckney Island, and Paige Island (for more public beaches, click here). These spots are sparsely populated during the off-season, and the mild lowcountry climate produces ideal conditions for viewing.
All You Need:
- A dark and open sky
- A starfinder/guide or sky viewing app
- Lawn chairs/blankets
- Flashlight with a filter
Check out local calendars of events for stargazing opportunities!