Stargazing is a wonderful and awe-inspiring activity that allows you to observe and appreciate the beauty of the night sky but to maximize your stargazing experience, find a location away from city lights and light pollution in rural areas, national parks or designated stargazing spots. The darker the sky, the more stars and celestial objects you can see. This is a quiet and meditative activity so allow yourself to relax, be patient and let your eyes adjust to the dark as it takes time for your eyes to adapt to low light conditions so, avoid looking at bright lights or screens before stargazing.
It’s a chance to connect with the vastness of the universe and appreciate the beauty of our universe so take the time to enjoy the experience, soak in the wonder of the night sky and create lasting memories.
Best time for stargazing in India:
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Starscape CEO and Co-Founder, Paul Savio talked about the best time to go stargazing in India and said, “It varies depending on where you are. You are basically looking for any time when the sky is not cloudy. Summers are generally good in Himalayan cities, and continue till June. Pre-monsoon rains in April and monsoons in June make for bad skies in the south. After the monsoon, and especially after Diwali, the skies clear across the country. Winter is the best time for stargazing.”
Neeraj Ladia, CEO of Space Arcade, said, “Generally, if you look at the whole of India, it will be monsoon mostly from mid-May or June. So, June, July, August – these are the times to avoid stargazing in the general area but if you are in the Himalayas or the Spiti Valley. Or if you are in low rainfall area like Ladakh or Leh, June-July is the best time to go. Overall if you talk about whole India, you should stay away from June, July, August for star gazing. There may be clear sky sometimes but mostly Time it is neglected and then it opens very well in September – October.”
He added, “If you are in a region like South India, it usually rains in November so don’t go there but North India is absolutely beautiful and the winter sky is actually very good. For stargazing, the winter sky is sharper and crisper. It is full of bright stars. . The view of the night sky quickly grabs your attention. One thing that is not clearly visible in the winter sky is the Milky Way arm, the summer arm of the Milky Way. The winter arm of the Milky Way is not very thick, it is not very bright so we cannot easily see it with the naked eye, but if you look at the Milky Way If you want to see the proper summer arm of the Way, you need to start stargazing in the summer season. That will be after February or March and it will continue till October-November but again, ignoring these 3 months mentioned earlier. Generally, stargazing in the winter sky. Well done. One challenge is fog and mist that can hinder your view.”
Best places for stargazing in India:
Paul Savio suggested, “The usual suspects are the mountains, mainly because of the thin clean air and lack of light pollution but many cities have very dark skies beyond the city limits. These places, while they can’t compare to Ladakh or the Andamans, still offer a great stargazing experience and Visits can be made at short notice.
According to Neeraj Ladia, the best sky in India will be in Leh and Ladakh region. He said, “Most of the year there is very little rain and no clouds. It has about 250 clear skies. Clear skies 250 or 270 days out of 365 days a year. It is also good weather wise and there is no light pollution. The entire Spiti Valley, Ladakh and Leh region will be my number one destination. It is also known as rain shadow zone. There is something called the Bortle Scale where you measure light pollution.
He said, “Bortle scale between 1 and 2 is good and the sky is also clear in less populated areas. If you want to go to Rajasthan, the border area, Jaisalmer area is also very good. A few pockets near national parks and tiger reserves are also good. For example, in Madhya Pradesh, we have Kanha National Park. In south India, hilly areas are more, clear sky is less but Coorg has very good night sky and Kodaikanal outskirts and nearby Kanyakumari. All these areas are good and there are many but it also depends on how much good sky you get in a year.”
Tips for a first-time stargazing experience:
Paul Savio advises, “As with any hobby, start easy. Find an easily accessible dark sky location. Get familiar with a map of the sky (either a planisphere or an app like Sky Maps or Stellarium) and how to identify the different stars, constellations, and planets. Learn. A pair of binoculars will also come in handy for observing the moon, planets, and some deep-sky objects. Public stargazing sessions are usually the best place to start, as there are guided programs and more experienced stargazers to help you explore the hobby more meaningfully. can.”
Neeraj Ladia adds tips for a first-time stargazing experience, saying, “Every person interested in astronomy should know when to go. They cannot go randomly. So, one must know the right season to go stargazing. Another thing that is important is the time of the month you choose to go. You need to know the moon phase. So, before going, find out the moon phase of that day. You should stick to the days that are closest to the new moon. You should avoid other days because the moon will be too bright, it can spoil your observation. Second, places must be known. Of course not everyone can travel to areas like Ladakh but wherever you are staying, you should know the darkest area near those areas. So, you should know the concept of light pollution.
He concluded, “There are many apps and software to check light pollution. So, check the area where you are staying with the least light pollution. Don’t leave the city/town area and try to go to the outskirts of where you are staying. If If possible, it’s good to carry a pair of binoculars. A few devices always come in handy and will enhance the experience.”
Remember, the night sky is always changing and each season brings new celestial events and phenomena to observe. So, make stargazing a regular practice and continue to explore and marvel at the wonders above us.