Editor’s Note: This post was updated on Aug. 14, 2020.
For both amateur and seasoned astronomers, there are plenty of ways to get lost looking into space in DC, like the National Air and Space Museum and farther out at Shenandoah National Park and Richmond’s Virginia Living Museum. But, despite a dense population and seemingly denser traffic, Northern Virginia also has its fair share of prime stargazing spots, many of which host regular classes and programs to grow a fledgling hobby and learn more about the sky above.
Burke Lake Park’s open fields lend themselves well to stargazing. And, you can learn more about constellations and try out provided telescopes when the park hosts stargazing events. // 7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station
C.M. Crockett Park’s expansive open field is an ideal location to spot constellations, planets, star clusters and galaxies. The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club holds monthly public viewings, and club members and nonmembers of all experience levels are welcome. // 10066 Rogues Road, Midland
Editor’s Note: As of Aug. 14, 2020, the planetarium is temporarily closed for renovations, with plans to reopen September 2021.
Located at the Arlington Schools Education Center, the David M. Brown Planetarium hosts its Stars Tonight program on the first Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. (contact directly for details on virtual programming amid COVID-19). Regular attendees can track changes in the solar system. // 1426 N. Quincy St., Arlington
While George Mason University’s observatory is typically reserved for students, it frequently hosts its Evening Under the Stars program (now virtual in 2020, due to COVID-19), where participants can look through the school’s primary telescope. // George Mason University College of Science: 10401 York River Road, Fairfax
Meadowkirk’s Brinton Observatory, also partnered with the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, is an ideal spot to check out the night sky, featuring a number of telescopes and regular astronomy programs. There are programs geared toward both children and more experienced stargazers that explore the moon and planets, the greater solar system and constellations and deep space. // 38012 Delta Farm Lane, Middleburg
Out in Great Falls, you can see the stars from one of the region’s darkest locations, and even better, Turner Farm has a roll-top observatory that offers programs and equipment for optimal viewing. The Analemma Society helms educational programming at the park. Participants who stop by might just be able to see Venus, the Andromeda galaxy or the Orion nebula. // 925 Springvale Road, Great Falls
Sky Meadows offers a dedicated observing field near the Bleak Hill House for Northern Virginia Astronomy Club members as well as nonmembers, and the park regularly partners with the National Air and Space Museum for events. // 11012 Edmonds Lane, Delaplane