Summer time is here and the weather seems to be cooperating so it's time to get out of the house and check out what that thing called “nature” is all about. Now that we have all sprung forward and the nights seem to be getting longer it’s the best time of year to admire and awe at the nighttime sky and all its celestial wonders.
We thought it would be a great idea to compile the best locations to star gaze in North Texas. First we want to say it was very tricky creating such a list. Dallas-Forth Worth has grown tremendously over the years and with that growth of cities and highways, light pollution follows. As you can see in the diagram below the light pollution consumes most of the DFW night sky. However it will not deter us from scoping out those twinkly stars in the great state of Texas. After all ‘the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas’ (you get the picture.)
Stargazing in North Texas can be done and to ensure a full-out fun experience here are the top 15 spots you and your loved ones should visit soon.
We wanted to start off with specific groups along the metroplex that gear specifically in this topic.
LOCAL STAR PARTIES
What-what? Did someone say party? Yes, my friends, yes we did! This is one of the largest star gazing communities in the DFW, these astro-geeks meet monthly in surrounding Dallas areas. Hosted by the Texas Astronomical Society, fans can indulge in all things astronomy. Enthusiast gather with telescopes around the metroplex and marvel at the many sightings the universe has to over. Families, friends and children are all welcomed to join this galactic event. All are free and begin at dusk. Call the Public Observing Hotline 214-800-6000 or visit the event website for complete information.
Rest assure people of Fort Worth, you too can have just as much fun. Monthly star parties are held at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and are open to the public. The Fort Worth Astronomical Society and Noble Planetarium staff hosts this grand event. While you are there, the party also includes planetarium shows with variable admission charges. Another great thing about these FWAS parties is that members can venture out just 70 miles north of Fort Worth and scope out a private 600-acre nature preserve. Now how can you beat that?
Nowadays we know everyone’s schedules can be hectic which can unfortunately cause for missing these parties so we wanted to share a few planetariums that can guarantee the best time for you and your love of astronomy.
3. Noble Planetarium
Piggybacking off the great astro-clubs in the metroplex, star lovers can find planetariums a great source for education and entertainment of the cosmos. Located in the heart of Fort Worth, this 90-seat theatre offers illuminating fun for all ages. The Noble Planetarium brings cutting edge technology in the planetarium filed. This structure features the first Zeiss-manufactured hybrid planetarium system that projects over 7,000 stars in the Southwest United States. The planetarium also carries a great exhibit focusing on the Sun and other fascinating sorts.
Prices for exhibit and planetarium vary. If you just cant get enough of this awesome place you can become a member for a selective package deal fee. Members can visit venue for FREE. If you are not looking to seek that route prices for daily admission is as follows:
Regular admission includes: Guests – Adult $15 | Junior (2-12) $11 | Senior (65+) $13
4. University of Texas at Arlington Planetarium
Since I have the honor of writing this lovely article, I most certainly have to pay tribute to my college alma mater. The university’s planetarium is located in central Arlington on the campus of UTA. Open to the public, fans of astronomy can treat themselves to star gazing events, educational field trips, and themed shows happening year round. The 60-foot domed theater is set with all the latest technology including a state of the art Digistar 5 DLP Projection system. With comfortable, reclining seats guest will transport themselves into an out-of-this-world experience. This virtual theater can project stars, planets and galaxies including an in-depth look into the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Open daily, prices are as followed:
Adults $6.00 | Seniors, Children & Students $4 | UTA Students $3.00 | Children under 3 FREE
5. University of North Texas Rafes Urban Astronomy Center
Home of the Mean Green, Rafes Urban Astronomy Center is located just miles off UNT campus in Denton, Texas. The facility has four telescope huts, each housing four Celestron C8 telescopes, and 2 classrooms that are used for astronomy student laboratories. On the first Saturday of every month the center holds Star Parties at sundown. During these parties, you can enjoy an opportunity to see objects in the sky via telescopes and learn about the night sky. Admission to this event cost $5 and free for children 4 and younger.
6. Perot Museum (Expanding Universe Hall)
In the middle of downtown Dallas is where the Perot Museum of Nature and Science stands. This museum is dedicated to inspire the visionaries of tomorrow. With that being said there are tons to things to see and admire at this museum. While you visit this future-filled location, you have to stop by the Expanding Universe Hall. This hall features exhibits that will take you on a journey of exploration across the universe. Embark on your space of discovery while you explore the solar system and uncover how scientists disclosed the secrets of the universe. Major exhibits include, The Big Bang and Beyond and Physics of the Universe. For various pricing and hours see website www.perotmuseum.org/.
7. Harry Moss Park (Greenville)
Centered in Dallas, Texas near Greenville you can find Harry Moss Park. With a certain location near the arbor side, just south of Greenville observers say you can discover a stunning view of the Dallas skyline. When you venture out to this place, make sure to go on a clear night so you can see all of Dallas and its beautiful horizon. You may not get that many stars though as it’s still probable to have quite a bit of light pollution.
NOW LETS GET AWAY FROM THE CITY LIGHTS AND CHECK OUT SOME OF THE BEST NIGHT TIME SKIES AROUND DFW.
8. Cooper Lake State Park
Do you have that itch for camping? Before the summer heat hovers over north Texas you might want to visit Cooper Lake State Park. For stargazing anytime, this park is the perfect setting to admire the many constellations and stars around our planet. About an hour northeast of Dallas, is where you can find Cooper Lake State Park. Park rangers will happily meet you in a designated area where telescopes will be easily available. However more telescopes are welcomed. For dates and times contact james.beach[at]tpwd.state.tx.us.
9. Frisco Commons Park
Off McKinney road is where you can find Frisco Commons Park. This park is just far enough from those pesky big city lights. The site is home to most of the Texas Astronomical Society’s monthly parties. With over 63 acre area you cant go wrong with finding a great stopping ground for your telescope. Other amenities include, a grand pavilion, amphitheater and a large fully stocked pond. If you’re going to make a full day out of it and you have kids you might want to rent a water slide and wear them down a little bit before it gets dark enough to start your stargazing.
The best part about this park is that it’s free for anyone to visit. So pack up your astronomy gear and head on over to this peaceful place.
10. Dinosaur Valley State Park
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Located in Glen Rose, Texas this state park hits up the family dynamic for sure. Known for its interactive and educational fun of the big guys that roamed the planet many, many moons ago, this park offers an exceeding amount of excitement. Just a short drive from Fort Worth, park goers can walk the tracks of what was once home to many dinosaurs. The park features a Park After Dark Night Hikes where those can trek the scenic trails along Dinosaur Valley. Hikes start in the store parking lot at 8:45 p.m. and last until about 10 p.m. This event is offered monthly so it’s a great idea to reserve your spot in advance.
Contact Kathy Lenz, (254) 897-4588 for more information about this limited event.
11. Cedar Hill State Park
Cedar Hill State Park is situated just ten miles southwest of Dallas near the eastern shore of Joe Pool Lake. This state park has wonderful views and features that all ages can enjoy. Even though this park is in the midst of the metroplex, you will still be satisfied with star stalking at Cedar Hill State Park. The park includes camping grounds, hiking trails, fishing and swimming in the Joe Pool Lake. If you are looking for a mini getaway at an affordable price definitely check out this park.
See website for further details on times and availability.
12. Lake Lewisville
Love the outdoors? If your answer was a “yes” than you are in luck! One of the largest lakes in DFW, Lake Lewisville offers plenty of amenities for your outdoor fun. Covered with new trails, parks, camping grounds, coves and other entertainment this location is wonderful for stargazing. Depending on which side of the lake you choose to check out, there is plenty of sky to scope out around nighttime. Bring your telescope and explore the thousands of stars around the universe.
For information about stargazing events held at Lake Lewisville contact the office way of website Lake-Lewisville.org. Business hours are 8a–6:30p M-F, 9a–2p Sunday-Saturday.
13. Lake Tawakoni (Quinlan/Willis Point)
Don’t we all just want to getaway and immerse ourselves in the nighttime skies? One of my personal favorites for stargazing has to be Lake Tawakoni near Quinlan, Texas. Famous for catching catfish, Quinlan is located a few hours away from the major cities in DFW. Small town is no understatement. Pure country, quiet and long fields where you can spot oilrigs, is where you can find this hidden gem. Perfect for those summer nights, you and your friends can rent a cabin near the lake, soak up the sun and while the evening appears marvel at the peaceful tranquility this nighttime sky has to offer. For more of the state park feel, check out Lake Tawakoni State Park in Wills Point just miles from Quinlan.
14. Purtis Creek State Park
Purtis Creek State Park is an adored stargazing site for local astronomers and amateur star viewers alike. The park is located in Eustace, TX just 65 miles from the DFW area. Occasional star parties are hosted by the Texas Parks & Wildlife where admirers can learn about common constellations that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere, study individual stars and the surface of the moon. The event is free with a $5 park admission for ages 13 and older. As well as being a place for celestial sightings, the park offers everything from fishing, hiking and camping to swimming and kayak rentals.
15. Hubbard City Lake Park
Are you looking for a great place to lush over the stunning stars? Hubbard City Lake Park is just the place for you. You can find this stellar location just 83 miles south of Dallas-Fort Worth. Isolated from many major cities and light pollution, you can expect nothing but clear skies for your star gazing experience. On the second Saturday of every month the Central Texas Astronomical Society members will navigate you to the best views ranging anywhere from the Milky Way to the Triangulum Galaxy.
We hope you take the time this summer and visit these great stargazing locations. For now we salute you in the proper Vulcan tradition and turn our attention up to the night sky.