Independence Ave. at 6th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20560
This one ‘s a no-brainer. Besides featuring all sorts of space crafts and airplanes, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum also features a public observatory where visitors can view our solar system Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. While the day time hours don’t help with star gazing, the public observatory does occasionally offer night time viewing to the public. You can find specific dates and times on the calendar of events listed here.
5200 Glover Road, N.W.
Washington, DC 20015
With three options for programs (Young Planetarium, Seasonal Night Sky and Explore the Universe), Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium really does provide a lot of free family fun. The Planetarium is located within the Nature Center and uses high-tech Spitz software to project the image of the stars onto its sizable, dome-shaped ceiling. Tickets are free and are available for pick up 30 minutes before the show. Outside of the planetarium, telescopes are set up at Military Field for evening stargazing sessions, which occur once a month, April through November (weather permitting).
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925 Springvale Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
Located just outside of D.C. in Great Falls, Virginia, Observatory Park attracts all sorts of professional and amateur astronomers with its weekly Friday night viewings. People are encouraged to bring telescopes, cameras, chairs, blankets and snacks. As always, the viewings will take place based on the weather permitting (their rule of thumb – If you can see clouds, no. If you can see stars, yes).
10066 Rogues Road
Midland, VA 22728
The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) meets in C.M. Crockett Park in Fauquier County, Virginia for evening stargazing once a month. With unobstructed views, this open field is a great place for night time star viewing. The club does recommend bringing telescopes and binoculars, but they’re not necessary for viewing the stars.
11012 Edmonds Lane
Delaplane, VA 20144
If you happen to be a history buff and avid stargazer, Sky Meadows State Park is the place for you. Located 45 minutes from DC (off I-66) Sky Meadows State Park offers a view of Colonial to Civil War times and also consists of 1,864 acres of rolling pastures, open fields and 17 miles of hiking trails. Far enough from the city, light pollution is rarely an issue as you gaze upon the night time sky. There are several meet-up groups that go here, including the Smithsonian on Saturdays. If you don’t feel like traveling back and forth from D.C. in one day, campgrounds are available at a cost of $15 per night.