This summer brought breathtaking sights in the night sky with comets, meteor showers, and lots of planets. But the show isn’t over yet! There is still time for great stargazing under the desert sky.
Fountain Hills is the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community, which means our community limits light pollution through smart lighting practices. Our skies have always been darker than the Phoenix metro area, giving residents a beautiful view of the stars and planets.
Stargazing is superb entertainment for all ages as we all stay a little closer to home.
No equipment is required, but binoculars or a telescope can enhance the experience. A reliable astronomy app like Sky View Lite or Sky Guide can help you identify constellations and other celestial objects.
LOCATION & PREPARATION
Find a spot in your yard where you have the widest view of the sky. Turn off exterior lights and any interior lights that shine into your yard. Allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. The longer you are in the dark, the more your eyes can detect fainter objects, even other galaxies!
WHAT’S UP THERE?
This month you will be able to enjoy Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury with the naked eye in the night sky. If you have a decent telescope, you can spot the little blue dot of Neptune, Jupiter’s band of colors and some of its moons, and the rings of Saturn.
As the Moon cycles through its phases, every night will give you a different view. Enjoy the Full Moon on October 1 use the moonless nights of September 17 and October 16 to see fainter objects in the night sky. You might even see some meteors when the Draconids Meteor Shower peaks on October 7.
To enjoy a sky tour during your stargazing, check out the Sky Tour Astronomy Podcast and Star Signs Podcast. Press play after you get comfortable under the stars in your backyard and enjoy the journey.
PHOTO CREDIT: Comet NEOWISE near Four Peaks by Scott Adams, president of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association.