Summer stargazing in Arizona

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Arizona was recently ranked as one of the top places to stargaze in the summer. It is definitely in a stargazer’s best interests to know where to go for the best viewing experience. We have several cities on the list. Saguaro Astronomy Club President, Michael Poppre, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the best places to stargaze in Arizona.

Dripping Springs, Arizona, took second place in the ranking due to its remote location and low levels of light pollution, along with its high elevation and its clear sky conditions. Flagstaff took fourth place and was followed by Sedona in fifth place. Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation tied in sixth place with Beverly Shores, Indiana. Village of Oak Creek was in fourteenth place, and Fountain Hills in sixteenth place.

“During this time of year, we look for the moon and planets that might be visible, but you are also looking for the wonderful summer constellations such as Scorpius, Sagittarius and the Milky Way. You can do a lot with the naked eye or a simple pair of binoculars,” said Poppre.

Observers and astronomers like to try and get to higher elevations for steadier air so it’s not as turbulent. Our atmosphere is not something that is crystal clear, and in the winter it tends to calm down, according to Poppre.

“It’s always better to get away from as much light pollution as possible, and in Flagstaff, they host an annual star party in September, and it has beautiful viewings right outside of town,” said Poppre.

People can visit places around Maricopa County Parks, out East along the Apache Trail, places to go off the main roads out by Superior, and all of these are about an hour away from the Phoenix area, according to Poppre.

“You can download sky guides or star maps, and then go out with that star map and see if you can find the constellations that are on there,” said Poppre, who added you could also look for local astronomy clubs in your area.

Michael Poppre, President, Saguaro Astronomy Club

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