9 best places to see the stars —the real ones —around Atlanta

  • Mary Caldwell
  • For the AJC
10:09 a.m. Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 Atlanta Events
Curtis Compton
Deerlick astronomy village in Sharon is the site of the Atlanta Astronomy Club's annual Peach State Star Gaze.

Atlanta, with its glittering downtown and suburban sprawl that stretches for miles in all directions, isn't always the ideal setting for stargazing.

The nighttime light pollution can make stars, meteors and other celestial bodies difficult to see.

In some cases, you may have to venture outside the city to get a good view of the nighttime sky or have the help of a telescope.

Georgia Tech Observatory, Ferst Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-385-8133.

The university's astronomy observatory hosts public nights, usually on one Thursday a month if weather is clear. A talk is given about 30 minutes before the public event begins, and upcoming topics include the moon and Saturn (Sept. 15 from 8-11 p.m.) and the moon and ring nebula (Oct. 13 from 7:30-11 p.m.).

Fernbank Science Center, 156 Heaton Park Drive, Atlanta. 678-874-7102.

The science center's observatory has the largest telescope in the southeastern United States, and it offers free public observations every Thursday and Friday from 9 p.m. (or when it gets dark) until 10:30 p.m. as weather permits. An astronomer will also answer questions.

Tellus Science Museum, 100 Tellus Drive, Cartersville. 770-606-5700. 

The Tellus Observatory houses a 20-inch telescope that's used for special events and lectures. It will be open on Oct. 8 from 8-10 p.m., weather permitting, for International Observe the Moon Night.

In addition to these destinations, you can also stargaze on your own, or try to catch events such as the Perseid and Delta Aquarid meteor showers.

Stars look brightest an hour after sunset and 50 minutes before sunrise. Meteor showers, on the other hand, are best viewed between 3-4 a.m., James Sowell, director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 2015 phone interview.

Generally, you'll need a spot that's away from as many streetlights and other sources of light as possible and that offers an unobstructed view of the sky.

Deerlick Astronomy Village, Sharon.

Stargazers have set up an astronomy village, complete with lots that are sold to amateur astronomers and a 11-acre area with showers and electrical hookups for guests who bring RVs, campers and tents. Sharon is located in Tallaferro County, about 90 miles east of Atlanta, and it's one of the darkest corners of Georgia and the Eastern Seaboard – in other words, perfect for star-gazing.

If you're interested in visiting the astronomy village, the Atlanta Astronomy Club hosts a Peach State Star Gaze each year at Deerlick, and this year it's being held from Sept. 25-Oct. 2.

•Anywhere in North Georgia past Helen

•A farm or hill with open field areas between Macon and Georgia Southern

•Hard Labor Creek State Park, 5 Hard Labor Creek Road. gastateparks.org/HardLaborCreek.

•Black Rock Mountain State Park, 3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway. gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain.

• Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, 543 Elliott Trail, Mansfield. georgiawildlife.org/CharlieElliott.

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