A stargazing date night can be a really unique romantic experience. The idea of a romantic night just under the sky, in a free open area, can be pleasantly disconnecting from today’s always-online world.
It can be the perfect opportunity for you and your girlfriend (or significant other) to connect intimately with one another on multiple levels.
If your girlfriend hasn’t tried astronomy before, you know that awesome feeling of seeing a nebula through a telescope for the very first time, and the fact that you can share it with someone special can be a great experience for the both of you.
In this guide, we’ll layout everything you need to know to get your girlfriend passionate about your stargazing hobby.
When You Should Do a Stargazing Date?
First and foremost, in most cases, it’s not a good idea for a stargazing date to be your first date. Imagine that you are asking someone you just know on top of a hill near midnight. Creepy, right?
Even more, communicate your plan clearly if you haven’t been with the person for too long. Walk her through the whole thing: where you are going to stargaze, what’s going to happen, what to expect, and so on.
Obviously, if the girl is also an astrology hobbyist, then a stargazing first date can be a great idea!
But you’ll still need to plan the date carefully: you’ll need to choose a comfortable spot where the girl can also feel safe (not too isolated, but not too packed), and don’t forget to bring some food, enough water, and blankets.
Also, don’t forget to always have a backup plan. Obviously, you won’t be able to continue the stargazing date during bad weather, so you might want a plan B not to ruin the whole date.
Now that we’ve set some clear ground rules, we can move on to the technical things.
What Do You Need for Your Stargazing Date
Here is a cheat sheet of the things you should prepare for your stargazing date:
- Someone to take on a date, pretty self-explanatory
- Means of transportation
- Layers of clothing depending on the temperature outside
- Waterproof blanket (to sit on) and extra blankets to keep you and the date warm
- Foldable chairs if possible
- Some music (can use your phone)
- Bug repellent
- Adequate food, snacks, and drinks
- The necessary smartphone apps to help your stargazing experience (i.e. star chart app)
- Garbage bag
With that being said, here are some general tips and tricks on what you should prepare for a stargazing date:
Watch the Weather Forecast
Three things you should especially focus on location, timing, and weather conditions.
Always check on the weather report ahead of time to ensure you can observe as many stars and objects as possible. There are various websites and apps offering radar-based and satellite weather forecasts for astronomers.
Nowadays it’s fairly easy to check your weather apps for nights with clear skies, and also, pick the right timing so you can observe the right celestial objects.
Use our guide on stargazing schedule to make the most of your date night.
Find Low-Light Areas
As a general rule of thumb, travel to remote areas with less artificial light and pollution, but make sure your date can still feel safe.
Be transparent and communicate your plans regarding location. If you live in a fairly remote area that is not too cold and with fairly low light pollution, then you can simply find a place in your backyard to sit together.
Plan for the Cold
Blankets are a must. Even during the summer, the very early hours of the mourning when stars are the brightest can be very cold. Also, it’s a great opportunity to connect while cuddling under a warm blanket.
Get a big enough blanket for two, and don’t forget hot drinks like hot chocolate or even mulled wine. Ask her what kinds of snacks she likes and prepare them.
Set the Mood Right
Don’t forget music to help set the mood. Nowadays, you can always use your phone to play music, but don’t forget to prepare your playlist.
Plan Your Stargazing Targets Ahead of Time
Plan the objects/stars you are going to stargaze ahead of time so you can put your attention on your date instead of spending too much time on finding your target observation.
On the other hand, it won’t be a proper stargazing date if you can’t find any notable object to observe.
Picking a Spot for a Stargazing Date
In picking a perfect spot for your stargazing date, especially if it’s a first date, you have two main concerns: on the one hand, you’d want a place with as little light pollution as possible, away from the cities, but on the other hand, you’d want your date partner to feel safe and comfortable.
Nowadays, however, there are cities that implement energy-saving policies, and so there are many towns that are pretty dark during nighttime so you can get decent or even great views while staying in the city.
Research for possible locations ahead of time, and find the perfect place for your stargazing date.
Also, elevation will definitely help, so if you can locate a hill with fairly low light pollution but not located too far away from the city, then it can be a perfect location.
Check with your local astronomer’s club in your area for recommendations regarding nearby sites that might be suitable for your plans.
If you and your spouse is already in a fairly long-term relationship and/or if vacation is an option, then there are some destinations we’d recommend for your stargazing date:
1. Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah)
It is actually the world’s first International Dark-Sky Park, lying beneath skies that are almost 100% free from light pollution, so the Milky Way and even some celestial objects are visible to your naked eye.
Also, during the day it’s also a wonderful site full of natural rock formations and bridges (hence the name), so you’ll have more activities to do on this site.
The Hawaiian Islands group is an obvious holiday destination for its beaches and volcanoes, but Hawaii also has very clear night skies that are almost perfectly clear from light pollution.
We did a full guide on stargazing in Maui you can check out once you’re done here.
You should especially visit the Mauna Kea Observatories, one of the most famous stargazing destinations in the world, located 13,796 ft above sea level.
There are also various guided tours that will involve a tour to Mauna Kea and the mountains.
3. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand
The Mackenzie Basin in Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve is famous for having the best night skies in New Zealand. The country’s largest mountain is also located in the vicinity, and the park is also great for camping or if you happen to like mountain climbing.
There’s a nightly stargazing tour at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center and Planetarium or the Mount John University Observatory, if you prefer a guided tour for your stargazing date.
4. Atacama Desert, Chile
Another famous stargazing destination in South America, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places in the world, which also translates into a clearer sky with almost zero light pollution.
In the desert, you can also visit Paranal Observatory, which also houses one of the largest telescopes in the world.
5. Pic du Midi, France
Famous for being the site where NASA’s scientist studied the moonscape in the preparation of Apollo landing, it is also the home of the Pyrénées-Mont Perdu landscape, a UNESCO world heritage site, and France’s national park.
There’s also a stargazing tour and a tour of the telescopes in the area, a perfect stargazing destination.
What Time of Year is Best for Stargazing?
The answer to this question would depend on the location, and you can refer to our planetary observation guide. However, assuming you are going to do your stargazing date in North America, here are a few pointers:
Watch the Moon cycle
A unique thing about the Moon is that moonlight washes light from most of the observable stars in the night skies so we can only see the brightest ones.
This is obviously undesirable for stargazing, and the brighter the Moon, the more this effect would be felt.
So, this is the most noticeable during the full moon where only a few stars can be seen.
So, absolutely avoid the time of the full moon to stargaze, and on the other hand, the best time to go stargazing is the days right before, during, and after each new moon when the moon is not visible in the sky and so the night skies are naturally darker.
During this period you will be able to see more stars with your naked eye. You will also have better views with your telescope even for fainter objects like nebulae and galaxies during the new moon.
In short, absolutely avoid the times around the full moon, and schedule your date around the time of new moon instead.
Spring, Autumn, and Winter are often referred to as ‘the observing season’ since they tend to be the best times to stargaze.
As we know, nights become 1-hour longer between October and March, meaning more time to observe the celestial objects.
Summer months mean long days and short nights (the nights are 1-hour shorter), with the skies take longer to get dark, and yet they will go lighter earlier.
If you are located around the summer solstice, it will hardly get dark at all during this period.
This is why many non-commercial observatories are closed during the summer months because it’s not dark enough when the public is able to visit.
To summarize the sentiments of this article, we hope we were able to answer a few key questions:
Is stargazing romantic? Yes, it absolutely can be when planned and done right.
Should you bring a girl stargazing on a first date? Well, as we’ve outline above this largely depends on the girl.
However, if your girlfriend (or significant other) share your passion for the outdoors then absolutely yes!
If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to check out some of our other articles about all things amateur astronomy: