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Plan a Stargazing Campout

Shooting stars, the Milky Way and full moons light up the night sky.

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Campers love the stars, the moon and the night sky, so why not plan a stargazing campout? Meteor showers, constellations, new and full moons are all great for nighttime viewing. Whether you are an amateur astronomer, a first time stargazer or planning a romantic getaway, you'll love camping under the stars.

Choose a campground that is away from city lights and ocean fog. Mountainous or hilltop locations are ideal for stargazing campouts. You might want to consider skipping the campfire or hike to an area with open sky for the best viewing.

Recommended items for stargazing: blankets and/or a reclining camp chair, an iPod with speakers and a groovy play list (think Miles Davis or Pink Floyd), snacks and beverages, and a flashlight or headlamp.

Meteor Showers and Shooting Stars

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IUSS/A.De Luca et al; Optical: DSS

Want to plan a campout and see hundreds of shooting stars? A meteor shower is an event in which shooting stars fall through the sky at increased rates and is best viewed at night during a new moon phase. Although the stars aren't really shooting or falling, it sure is spectacular to watch.

In actuality, a shooting star or meteor shower is when cosmic debris called meteoroids, enter the Earth's atmosphere and light up the night sky. Bright moonlight makes it difficult to view meteor showers, so be sure to check the moon phase calendars and plan your camping trip accordingly.

The following is a list of meteor showers with the peak viewing dates.

  • Quadrantids - January 3-4, 2013
  • Lyrids - April 21-22, 2013
  • Eta Aquarids - May 5-6, 2013
  • Perseids - August 12-13, 2013
  • Orionids - October 21, 2013
  • Leonids - November 17-18, 2013
  • Geminids - December 13-14, 2013

New Moon Phases - The Ultimate Time for Stargazing

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

A new moon is the first visible moon of a moon phase. It is seen as a sliver, or a crescent moon. The new moon emits a low amount of light, which makes it the best moon phase for stargazing. Before you head out, learn about the milky way, stars, planets, galaxies and constellations.

If a stargazing camping escape is what you desire, plan your trip with this new moon calendar.

  • January 11, 2013
  • February 10, 2013
  • March 11, 2013
  • April 10, 2013
  • May 9, 2013
  • June 8, 2013
  • July 8, 2013
  • August 6, 2013
  • September 5, 2013
  • October 4, 2013
  • November 3, 2013
  • December 2, 2013

Learn more about the dark side of the moon.

Full Moon Calendar

Image credit: NASA/Lauren Harnett

The night landscape glows beautifully during a full moon. You'll see the wild outdoors in a new light, literally. Plan your next camping getaway under a full moon with this 2012 full moon calendar.

  • January 26, 2013
  • February 25, 2013
  • March 27, 2013
  • April 25, 2013
  • May 24, 2013
  • June 23, 2013
  • July 22, 2013
  • August 20, 2013
  • September 19, 2013
  • October 18, 2013
  • November 17, 2013
  • December 17, 2013

* The second full moon in a calendar month is called a Blue Moon, but there is no blue moon in 2013

Native American Names for the Full Moons

Image credit: NASA

Native American Indian tribes named each full moon cycle to keep track of the seasons. There are slight variations of moons between tribes, resulting in multiple names. The most widely used Native American full moon names are listed here.

  • January - Wolf Moon
  • February - Snow Moon
  • March - Worm Moon
  • April - Frog Moon, Pink Moon, Fish Moon
  • May - Flower Moon
  • June - Strawberry Moon
  • July - Buck Moon, Hay Moon
  • August - Sturgeon Moon, Moon of the Green Corn
  • September - Corn Moon or Harvest Moon*
  • October - Harvest Moon* or Hunter's Moon
  • November - Beaver Moon
  • December - Cold Moon

* The full moon that falls closest to the Autumn Equinox, usually September 22, is considered the Harvest Moon.

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