How to find the darkest skies for Milky Way Season

March 30, 2016, 12:53 p.m.
The Milky Way shows up brightly over the ocean.
Photo: Jasmine_K/Shutterstock

We're at the very beginning of the Milky Way season, when the thick strip of stars is most visible across the night sky. The season runs from April through September with the summer months being best for viewing the Milky Way. But even during prime months of June, July and August, you need a very dark sky to see it clearly. These six resources will help you scope out a wonderfully light pollution-free zone to see the galactic wonder at its best.

International Dark Sky Association's Dark Sky Finder: You can locate spots near you that the IDSA has created as a reserve, sanctuary or community to keep the night sky starry.

Clear Dark Sky: Check out locations for not only dark skies but also forecasts for weather so that your star-viewing session isn't ruined by cloud cover.

Light Pollution Map: A simple light pollution map lets you zoom in to see where light pollution exists and lets you scan for dark zones.

Dark Site Finder: This site has a light pollution map, weather data, and even a forecast model for viewing auroras.

Blue Marble: This zoomable global map uses light pollution data from NASA's Earth Observatory.

Google earth with light pollution data: This article discusses ways to add light pollution data to Google Earth so you can scan around the globe for dark skies. Or you can take a shortcut created by Jonathan Tomshine.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.