Atlanta, with its glittering downtown, and a 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 employ the help of a telescope.
The following are some of the best places to see the stars near Atlanta:
Georgia Tech Observatory
The Georgia Tech Observatory hosts public nights, usually held once per month if the weather is clear. A talk is given about 30 minutes before the public event begins.
Location: Midtown - Ferst Drive NW; Website: astronomy.gatech.edu; Contact: 404-385-8133
Fernbank Science Center
The Fernbank Science Center’s observatory has the largest telescope in the southeastern United States, and prior to Covid-19, it offered free public observations every Thursday and Friday from dark until 10:30 p.m., as weather permitted.
Currently, per the website, the science center and observatory are still closed to the public, but they are offering at-home virtual planetarium shows presented on Fridays and Saturdays. Additional details are available on Fernbank’s Facebook page.
Location: Druid Hills - 156 Heaton Park Drive; Website: fsc.fernbank.edu; Contact: 678-874-7102
Tellus Science Museum
The Tellus Observatory houses a 20-inch telescope that allows viewers to explore the Moon and planets in our solar system. Tickets to the observatory can be purchased alongside general admission tickets, and tours of the observatory are available during special events and astronomy workshops.
Location: 100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120; Website: tellusmuseum.org; Contact: 770-606-5700.
Deerlick Astronomy Village
Stargazers have set up an astronomy village, complete with lots that are sold to amateur astronomers, and an 11-acre area with showers and electrical hookups for guests who bring RVs, campers and tents. Deerlick Astronomy Village 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 personal 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 Oct. 23 - Oct. 30.
Location: Grier’s Field, Crawfordville, GA 30631; Website: deerlickgroup.com
The following are some of the best additional spots to stargaze and watch meteor showers in Georgia:
In addition to these public destinations, you can also stargaze on your own and try to catch cool, celestial events such as the Delta Aquarid meteor shower.
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 one that offers an unobstructed view of the sky.