Have you always wanted to plan a stargazing date just like in the movies? In today’s blog, we’ll show you how to plan a stargazing date!
Pro tip: This is not a date for first dates – it might sound romantic, but for someone who you’ve just started seeing, they won’t know you well enough to be able to trust you in a dark location whilst all alone. It’s plain common sense 🙂 !
Observatory date idea
Tickets and estimated cost
Going to an observatory is one of the most romantic ideas that you can try out with your partner! This is perfect if your partner is a nerd at heart who loves everything about the stars, galaxies, and the fascinating worlds way out in the universe!
There are some observatories that don’t charge anything for their tickets but you may want to check their schedule first. On average, one ticket will cost about $25 per person, making it around $50 for the two of you. There are sometimes exclusive presentations/talks and activities being featured, depending on the package you bought.
How to find an observatory you can visit
You probably already know of an observatory local to your region, however, you can also look up one on Tripadvisor. Here, you’ll get to see various search results within your area.
If the observatory is a tad far away, make it a road trip!
DIY stargazing date idea
Where to go
For a DIY stargazing date, you’ll first need somewhere really dark to observe the stars without light pollution to obscure the view. The brighter the area is, the dimmer the stars will appear!
The lights will wash out the stars (even if these are shining brightly, its distance to the Earth is extremely far – hence making it less visible to our naked eyes). If there’s a full moon, this will also distort your view of other objects in the sky.
We recommend bringing your partner to a remote clear area with a good view of the skyline – unused sporting ovals, nature reserves or beaches are great ideas. Lisa and Scott often go up to the Blue Mountains in Sydney Australia to go stargazing.
- Adjust your eyes properly – let your eyes warm up to the darkness. Don’t shine bright flashlights or headlights where you’re going to be staying for your stargazing date. Letting your eyes adjust is a process called “dark adaptation” by some astronomers. It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark.
- Where lights are required, use a red lens torch so as to not ruin your night vision.
What to bring
- Red light torch – this is important as you don’t want to be entirely engulfed in darkness. You’ll still need some bit of light so you can really feel comfortable and keep that romantic vibes. A red light torch is also a lot easier on the eyes compared to white light. Using white light (which is usually used in flashlights and car headlights) can affect your night vision, inhibiting its dark adaptation.
- Comfy chairs – expect that this date will last for more than an hour. At the most, this will take about 3 to 4 hours or even longer! So we suggest that you bring comfy chairs so you can settle down with your partner properly. Enjoy this moment together and appreciate the view with your partner.
- Hot chocolate/coffee/tea – you and your partner will be sitting out for a couple of hours; maybe even more if you’re waiting for a meteor shower or any other astronomical event. It will get cold eventually especially if you’re doing this in winter. So a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea may be enough for you both to feel comfortable.
- Nibbles – you’ll always be going to be hungry after spending hours stargazing. The last thing you’d want to happen is for you to interrupt your romantic date by going in a short food run. So it’s definitely best to bring nibbles for you and your partner. Nothing heavy – just enough for you to get by!
For a healthy treat, you can get a sliced carrot and celery with dips. If you are both on a cheat day, treat yourself with chips, chocolates, and other of you and your partner’s snacks.
- Gloves, jacket / other stuff for the cold – you’ll need to get really comfortable so you can both enjoy the moment. Don’t let the cold ruin the fun and moment you’re having together!
- Insect repellant – think of when you were camping when you’re younger. Mosquitoes will surely bite any part of you that’s exposed. So even if you and your partner are all wrapped up in layers of clothing, your face and hands might be bitten by a mosquito. You and your partner wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable instead of having fun and savoring the moment instead.
- Music – there are some people who would want some romantic music while gazing at the stars late at night but there are also some people (like Scott) who are content with just the serenity of the night sky.
What to see
Apps & websites
There are a lot of apps and websites that you can use to guide you with this stargazing date. These apps are very much helpful especially if you know little about what you should look for. These websites and apps are user-intuitive and can help you navigate through the night sky. It definitely makes this date more memorable. Some of the apps we recommend are the following:
- NASA app – here you can get the latest photos, videos, and updates directly from NASA. You can also watch NASA events (such as space launches) in real-time!
- Star Walk 2 – this is one of the best apps we love for stargazing. Here, you can find the exact position of the celestial bodies in the sky at the very moment. This app is free for Android users and it costs $3 for iOS but it’s definitely worth it.
- Timeanddate.com – this website can tell you information on planets, meteor showers, moon phases, and a whole lot more. It shows you the different skies for the Northern and Southern Hemisphere at a particular time of the year. What’s visible changes from year to year due to the orbit of the planets over time so this is a convenient way to find out what’s in the sky on date night.
Our favourite things to look for are the following:
- Jupiter – this is the biggest planet in our solar system. It’s fairly near to the Earth since it’s the fifth planet from the sun. Its size is extremely massive that it’s considered to be two and a half times larger than all of the planets combined! Saturn isn’t just the only planet that has rings as Jupiter also has them (although Saturn has a lot more and is very visible compared to Jupiter’s). Its most unique characteristic is its Great Red Spot which is a giant hurricane-like storm and it has already been there for over 300 years!
- Saturn – this might be one of our favorite planets to look out for because it’s a very unique one with its rings that can actually be seen from Earth! It’s the second-largest planet (next to Jupiter). The rings may look like these are made from solid material but it’s actually made up of ice, dust, and rocks.
- Venus – this planet is named after the Roman goddess of beauty and love. It’s also one of the brightest planets in the solar system next to the Moon. We love the fact that there are some times wherein Venus can cast its gaze on Earth which can be visible to the naked eye even in broad daylight!
- Mars – this might be the planet where we know much of compared to others as it’s the most explored one by humans. It’s also our neighboring planet and is the second smallest in the solar system. The planet is named after the god of war and because of its color, it’s usually referred to as the “Red Planet”.
- Moon – aside from the sun, one of the most visible galactic bodies out there is the moon. We see it almost every night depending on weather conditions. But on a good day, especially when it’s on a full moon, it’s really just a majestic thing to see. It’s very underrated in our opinion as we almost take it for granted. But one thing we love about stargazing dates is we get to sit down with our partner and just really appreciate the things that we don’t even notice before – and that’s exactly the kind of experience that we’d want you to feel on this date!
The moon has many identifiable features and these can be seen even with our naked eye (especially with the aid of a telescope or a really, really good camera). These include the lunar maria, montes Apennines (moon’s highest mountain range where apollo 15 landed), Tycho crater, Copernicus crater, and Oceanus procellarum (source Forbes)
Did you know that some galaxies are visible to the naked eye? These are the following galaxies that we would want to look out for.
- Andromeda Galaxy – this is the Milky Way’s closest neighbor and yet it is 2.5 million light-years away. It has an estimated 400,000 billion stars. The Andromeda galaxy is probably the most distant object in the sky that can be seen with the naked eye. However, you have to make sure that it’s a very clear night with a very dark night sky (away from all the lights!). We saw this galaxy last weekend!
- Large and Small Magellanic clouds – these can be seen with the naked eye if you’re in the southern hemisphere or tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere. These are actually irregular dwarf galaxies and orbit the Milky Way (source: Wikipedia)
- Meteor showers/comets – comets and meteor showers will be visible from time to time and may be seen with the naked eye. But you may want to first check any astronomical events happening online before your date so you can schedule accordingly. Usually, NASA and other space-related news outlets will publish articles when you can view meteor showers or comets. Aside from the date, you’ll get a particular time when you can view it.
This website can show you where the constellations are. This helps especially if you are locating something, say the Large Magellanic Cloud which is found in the constellations Dorado and Mensa.
Constellations also play a huge factor in your zodiac, particularly your star sign and whole natal chart, too. The constellations (or stars) change their places every day. Hence, a natal chart is an astronomical snapshot of what the skies look like based on your exact birth date, time, and place.
These alignments heavily influence your natal chart, which has your star, sun, moon, and other planets signs which can all contribute to your personality as astrology says. You can check out the Co-Star app which is available for both Android and iOS users. You can both input your date, time, and place of birth – the more accurate, the better! Then you can check your overall compatibility.
- Telescope or binoculars
- Stars – when using a telescope or binoculars for stars, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to see a huge difference for any individual bright star. Instead, this will just prompt you to see more faint objects and clusters more clearly. For example, you’ll see the ‘jewel box’ star cluster. Don’t expect that you’re going to zoom in on an individual star!
- Planets – using a telescope or binoculars to view the planets is definitely incredible! Lisa and I always love to view Jupiter with its ever-famous “Great Red Spot” and its moons! Venus will appear as a bright-shining half-sphere with not many details while Saturn’s rings will be more visible. Mars looks more prominent to the naked eye but when it’s seen using a telescope or binoculars, it’s mainly just an orange or red ball – not much to see but still a great experience!
- Moon – the moon with all of its details and unique features is definitely a sight that you and your partner shouldn’t miss out on. If you zoom in on the details and see its craters, you can get much more detail than is visible with the naked eye. Scott likes to go crater hopping, having a good look around each feature before moving on to the next.
If you’re thinking about where you can buy second-hand binoculars or telescopes, you can get them very cheaply on Facebook Marketplace. You’ll buy one at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in-store. Just make sure, however, that the seller could give you a demonstration that the telescope still works.
Stargazing is a perfect date if you just want to chill out and wind down whilst viewing the beauty of nature. Enjoy the serenity while watching the skies up above!
Are you looking for some great ideas to finish up the Stargazing date night? We’ve written a blog on this topic which you can find at this link!