Ask a seasoned stargazer where to see the cosmos, and the answer of New York City might suggest they misunderstood the question.
Warm summer nights in the city are an opportune time to observe the solar system. While the brightness of the city skyline may reduce the amount of detectable celestial objects, stargazers can still enjoy a look at what exists in the universe at stargazing locations across Brooklyn — all free of charge.
“Expect to see Saturn’s rings and the four Galilean moons of Jupiter through any telescope,” said Brian Abbott, Assistant Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of History. “In fact, Jupiter’s large moons are visible through binoculars.”
With the upcoming Perseid meteor shower Aug. 11-12 there’s no better time to look to the skies.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Every Thursday night until the end of August visitors can come to Pier 1 at the park for “Journey to the Stars,” hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Along with the night sky, visitors can also enjoy one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline.
8:30-10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, 18 and 25
Brooklyn Museum Plaza
Museum-goers and sidewalk strollers alike can check out the telescopes set up at the Brooklyn Museum Plaza, located along the Eastern Parkway. Occurring every first Saturday of the month until early November, this location offers a look at stars and planets with less of the city atmosphere. Visitors can also grab a snack from the nearest food cart and delve into a conversation about what they saw in the sky.
9-11 p.m. on Saturday
Floyd Bennett Field
If you want to spot stars with your naked eye without the help of a telescope, try Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park. Due to its location near the beach, with fewer bright lights, visitors can stargaze easier than at more urban areas. “If you want to see a lot of stars, it’s actually one of the better locations in the city to go,” said Amateur Astronomers Association of New York vice president, Rori Baldari.
UPCOMING DATES: 8-10 p.m. on Sep. 9
Owl’s Head Park
At Owl’s Head Park, visitors can enjoy another free stargazing event, hosted by the Urban Park Rangers. Located in Bay Ridge, the park has a broader horizon for stargazing. Enter at Colonial Road and 68th Street.
UPCOMING DATES:8-9:30 p.m. on Saturday
at Grand Army Plaza
A star that is prominent even during daylight is our beloved Sun. The Amateur Astronomers Association offers solar observations at Grand Army Plaza, with telescopes equipped with protective filters that allow visitors to see different features of the Sun. White light filters allow observers to see the details of the sun’s surface, while hydrogen alpha filters allow the sun’s atmosphere to be seen, according to Baldari.
“Sunspots are often visible and with more sophisticated filters, solar events such as flares might be seen erupting in real time,” says Steve Beyer, a Hayden Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. He advises to only look at the sun with a proper filter.
11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, Sep. 17