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Star Gazing in Arkansas


Astronomy’s much more fun when you’re not an astronomer.Brian May

A summer night spent under the stars is something everyone should do at least once – even if you have to “glamp” in a cabin or fancy RV, rather than going rustic in a tent or hammock. One of the perks of living in a state that isn’t crowded with sprawling urban development is the fact that we don’t have to travel far to enjoy those twinkling celestial bodies in the night skies.

Star Gazing in Arkansas Pelican Nebula Only in Arkansas
Photo courtesy  DCASTRO.US

In Northwest Arkansas, Sugar Creek Astronomy Association makes it easy for folks of all levels of interest and experience to find out more about what’s going on “out there.” Every other month, the public is invited to B.O.T (bring your own telescope) to their event at Hobbs State Park. If you don’t have a telescope, come anyway! Attendees are welcome to share the Association’ scope, appropriately named “Big Boy.” For more info and dates of the gatherings, check out the Friends of Hobbs website.

Other recommended spots for star gazing in Northwest Arkansas include White Rock Wilderness Area, Withrow Springs State Park (upper pavilion area) and Beaver Lake Nursery Pond.

Star Gazing in Arkansas Trifid Nebula Only in Arkansas
Photo courtesy  DCASTRO.US

Several Arkansas State Parks include astronomy events on their calendars, including Pinnacle Mountain, Lake Ft. Smith, and Lake Ouchita. In fact, Pinnacle Mountain has a Star Party every month, hosted by the folks at Central Arkansas Astronomical Society – so you’ll have plenty of opportunities this summer. (Dates shared by CAASAstro are July 18, August 15, September 5, and October 17) Check out mountain tops near you and look for camping spots that boast higher elevations like Mount Magazine and Petit Jean. Just make sure you stay off private property.

Star Gazing in Arkansas Jupiter and moons Only in Arkansas

Right here in Arkansas, on Petit Jean Mountain, Arkansas Sky Observatories conducts educational research and provides opportunities for amateur and professional astronomers to access the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics network. Since its founding in 1971 by Dr. P. Clay Sherrod, they have contributed more than 50,000 orbital measurements of comets and asteroids.

Large bodies of water like Lake Ft. Smith, the lakes of the Arkansas Delta, or your local pond are also ideal for contemplating your place in the Universe if you have a boat to launch. Floating on the water watching the skies above you can take you pretty close to a spiritual awakening. Be prepared to feel really, really small.

Star Gazing in Arkansas NGC 7331 Only in Arkansas
Photo courtesy  DCASTRO.US

For more information about astronomy in the Natural State and beyond, check out these links:

Central Arkansas Astronomical Society 

Arkansas Sky Observatories 

Go Astronomy (list of observatories in Arkansas)

Astronomy Clubs (list of astronomy clubs in Arkansas)

Night Sky Network

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Arkansas Women Blogger Laurie is a writer and artist living in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, son and three cats who think they’re people. She can’t keep her fingernails clean, prefers her tea unsweet, and is on a first-name basis with local thrift store employees. You can follow Laurie at See Laurie Write and Junque Rethunque.

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