In a city that never sleeps, stargazing seems like an activity that’s reserved for those that live far and away from the bright skies of metropolitan areas. Even though Manhattan’s tall skyscrapers illuminate the city at night, a select few spots on the Upper West Side offer the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse at the stars above. Read below to find out when and where you can observe the magic of the universe without having to leave the neighborhood.
Don’t let the bright neon signs and the glittery lights that dominate the city’s sidewalks stop you from experiencing the beauty of the universe. Every Friday and Saturday from May 13th to July 30th, the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (AAA) gathers on the plaza of Lincoln Center to take a close look at the planets that hover around Earth. On May 20th and other certain nights, you’ll be able catch Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and even the Moon thanks to advanced high-powered telescopes that are set up just north of the plaza’s fountain. Stargazing starts at sunset and ends one hour before midnight. Unlock the mysteries of the universe and take a closer look at the Milky Way right from the very heart of the Upper West Side. The times may change according to weather conditions and we encourage you to visit AAA’s official website ahead of the date at http://www.aaa.org/observing/
The AAA of New York also organizes stargazing activities at other sites and one of them happens to be in the middle of Central Park. For one Sunday afternoon every month, telescopes with special filters are brought to the park to observe the sun. Yes, this is a special opportunity to sungaze and get a close look into the giant star that brings life to our planet. You might bring your own equipment as long as it incorporates special filters to not harm your eyesight. The next observing dates are taking place in the summer and fall on July 3 and August 7.
The AAA of New York’s mission is to share their passion for astronomy with others and spread awareness of the importance it has in shaping the understanding of the universe. The organization was founded in 1927 to promote the study of Astronomy and its beneficial value to society’s evolution. They sponsor lectures led by key researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and provide affordable classes in astronomy to members.
Columbia University in Morningside Heights is another great spot to observe the stars from the comfort of our neighborhood. The university hosts a series of astronomy lectures followed by a session of stargazing. Their next event is on May 13 and there’ll be a 45-minute lecture followed by an hour or more of serious stargazing. The magic happens at their rooftop which is said to be one of the best places in the city to catch a glimpse of the stars.
The stargazing is followed by an astronomy Q&A session and a presentation of beautiful astrophotography slideshows. This coming lecture focuses on the history and the future of black holes and will be led by Daniel D’Orazio. Black holes remain unsolved mysteries that hold some of the strangest occurrences in the universe. What can we learn from them and what can they teach us about the way physics work? These and many other questions will be discussed at large before and after the lecture. The observations only take place under clear skies and you can check their website for more information at http://outreach.astro.