Like one wildly popular Texas tune says, the stars at night are big and bright and the prairie sky is wide and high, deep in the heart of Texas. But in Houston? Not so much. Ironically, here in Space city, the solar system’s superior celestial sights elude us and Texas’s famous stars at night remain hidden behind some serious light pollution. Those who want to glimpse a meteor as it streaks across the night sky, gaze in wonder at the Milky Way, pick out a distant planet amid a twinkling sea of stars or simply trace a few familiar constellations, will have to motor a good ways away from as many bright city lights as possible.
Here are 4 Houston-area locales offering dark skies, relatively dark skies or, a really big telescope ideal for stargazing in an area less than ideal for the practice at large.
Suggestion: Crank this tasty Texas beat while you peruse the list.
Located some 46 miles southwest of downtown Houston, Brazos Bend State Park doesn’t constitute a complete escape from the artificial glow of the urban sprawl but it’s a choice location for star seekers who don’t want to undertake a lengthy journey to the state’s more remote areas. Oh, and as if we almost forgot to mention it, the George Observatory, operated by theHouston Museum of Natural Science, is on site. Stargazers can marvel at the night sky through the observatory’s telescopes.
Galveston still reps a ton of light pollution but it’s beaches make a great backdrop for a night of casual stargazing and night time swimming.
The Sam Houston State Observatory is located off campus at 39 Knox Circle in Huntsville, Texas. The observatory is open several nights a month. A schedule online lists the days it is open along with information about what viewers might be able to observe.
Houston’s resident astronomical society has its own dark site observatory some 90 miles west of Houston, near Columbus, Texas. The observatory itself houses three permanently mounted telescopes. There are also several bunkhouses on site for those too weary to travel home after a night of stargazing. So, outsiders aren’t exactly welcome at this particulate observatory. Only dues-paying members of the Houston Astronomical Society Observatory are permitted on the site, which is nicknamed Padhenge as a nod to the numerous concrete pads arranged in a circular pattern around the observation field. Annual memberships begin at $36.