Astrophotography really is a beautiful thing, being able to customize a camera so it can capture clear pictures of the night sky and all the glistening stars that occupy it is one of the greatest feats humans have achieved when it comes to photography, but the truth is, there are some areas that can grant you a much clearer and more precise image of the stars than others.
Therefore, while choosing the right camera is incredibly important when it comes to star photography so that you can clearly see the star trails that illuminate the night sky.
The location is arguably more important because if you just visit your nearest hillside or camping spot, there’s no guarantee that you will get a good view of the stars, which is essential if you want your snaps to be as crisp and high-quality as possible.
To make this easier, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the very best locations that many Astro photographers visit on a regular basis when they want to collect a few pictures of the gorgeous astronomical objects in the sky that we know as stars!
1. Mount-Megantic, Quebec
Encompassing 34 cities and towns and attracting over 50,000 visitors each and every year, Mount-Megantic is incredibly hard to miss when driving across the Estrie region of Canada.
Featuring gigantic trails that you can see from miles away leading all the way to the peak of the mountain where visitors can feel like they are just an arms reach away from the night sky and the stars that accompany it.
If you travel up the mountain and manage to reach the top, you will find the Mount-Megantic Observatory, and just a few steps away from that is the ASTROLab museum, along with plenty of other space-themed exhibitions, which is what the mountain has become synonymous with.
This means that while you get a fantastic view of the stars, you will also be surrounded by like-minded people who are also interested in astrology and observing the way the universe around us functions, making Mount-Megantic the perfect environment for any avid astrophotographer.
2. Death Valley National Park, California
While many people will know Death Valley for its immense heat, being one of the hottest places on the earth, when the sun isn’t beaming down, this sandy area of California actually offers an outstanding view of the stars, especially between March and May when you are able to clearly see Milky Way as it gradually rises over the sandy dunes, making for some incredible photos.
Always remember that when catching a few snaps of the stars, the environment surrounding the photo is also incredibly important, especially if you’re someone who cares a lot about color coordination and lighting in your photos, and wants to capture something that hits all the right bases aesthetically.
This is part of the beauty of the Death Valley National Park because while there are plenty of sandy dunes that provide a delicate contrast to the stars, there are also plenty of rock formations, mud cracks, and mining towns from a bygone era which will all help to elevate the style and visual appeal of a photograph tremendously.
3. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
The Vermillion Cliffs National Monument has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Arizona for anyone interested in geology and astronomy, with the formations of the rocks being incredibly unique and really unlike anywhere else you can find in America, or the world for that matter.
Because of this, it means you can capture some incredible shots of the stars through the cracks and holes that can be found in many of the rocks, or you can keep it simple and include the spectacular-looking trails and formations at the bottom of the image while the stars light up the center and the top of the photo.
Because this national geological treasure stands up to 7,000 feet high and is a few hours away from the nearest city, it means that the skies are free from any type of light pollution, so you can guarantee the sky won’t be dark for long after the sun sets since you will get a full clear view of the stars that cover the entire area at night.
4. Adirondack Mountains, New York
When many of us think of New York, we usually imagine the crowds of people, the speeding taxis, and the hustle and bustle of city life, but if you drive just outside of the city itself and journey to the lush landscapes that surround the Big Apple.
You will be met with some tremendous looking mountains, many of which have now become popular hiking spots, with the most popular among them being the Adirondack Mountains.
Just above the calm and glistening lakes that can be found at the top of the mountains is a clear view of the star-studded night sky, with this dark-sky oasis being the dream location for any astrophotographer hoping to get a few stunning snaps of the astronomical objects that reside outside of our own planet.
The summer is often the best time to visit the Adirondack Mountains, however, if you aren’t a fan of stargazing in the hot weather, you will still be able to get a full concentrated view of the night sky at the end of the summer months too when the temperatures have cooled off a little bit.
5. Cosmic Campground, New Mexico
Found in the heart of the Gila National Forest, the Cosmic Campground offers visitors an unobstructed 360-degree view of the night sky and all of its wonders, and while you are free to try and find the best shots for yourself.
The staff who work at the campground also regularly host “star parties” where every camper can join in on the fun while the leaders of the group point out any plants or particular stars that are worth observing in the sky.
Of course, being at the center of a national forest, you also have plenty of landscapes to also feature in your photos, from rugged mountains to deep canyons, all the way to very small semi-deserts, the stars aren’t the only natural marvel you will see when staying at the Cosmic Campground.
If you’re a photographer who likes capturing as many stars in one picture as possible rather than snapping them up close, the good news is the campground features several high-grade telescopes and tripods that visitors are free to use, so you will be able to get a closer look at the stars after you’re finished.
6. Natural Bridges Monument, Utah
The home of the world’s second-largest bridge provides an astonishing picture-worthy view of the stars, especially considering that the skies here have been recorded to be one of the darkest of any NPS unit across all states.
Meaning you’re always going to be able to clearly see the stars dazzling in all of their beauty without any risk of them looking to hollow or washed out because of lighter skies.
If you visit during the summer, you will be able to participate in the astronomy programs and activities led by the rangers in the nearby visitor center in case you want to learn a little more about the objects you have been capturing with your camera, along with the history of the area itself.
The rock art and stone tools which can still be found around the site show that humans have resided there from as early as 7500 BCE, making this a true geological treasure that we have been fascinated with for centuries and providing astrophotographers with some incredible imagery potential.
7. Fairbanks, Alaska
As one of the best areas in the world for viewing the Northern Lights and Aurora Borealis, it should come as no surprise that the outskirts of the city of Fairbanks in Alaska are also the perfect location for stargazing.
When visiting Fairbanks, you will inevitably see many ‘aurora chasers’ all trying to get the best pictures of the sky that they can, so while it can definitely feel very busy at times when there are more visitors, it also makes for an amazing environment full of passionate photographers all hoping to catch a few dazzling pictures of the sky when it’s looking its best.
If you like the idea of capturing the stars with the northern lights illuminating the sky with a deep green color in the background, Fairbanks really is an area full of magic and wonder that you need to experience for yourself.
Getting a crystal clear view of the stars at night isn’t as easy as many people might think, and while you can definitely spot a handful of them just by looking out of your bedroom window, the light pollution and physical obstructions that surround us mean that it’s virtually impossible to get a 360-degree view of the stars and the solar system from a city.
Therefore, if you’re a photographer hoping to catch a few shots of the stars and all the other magical wonders that occupy space, try out a few of these beautiful locations which are all guaranteed to give you an amazing view of the night sky in all its beauty!