Stargazing in Florida
Florida is no LA in terms of stars you can recognise on the street. But not all is lost: in the Sunshine State, chances are you will spot a star here and a star there, since they tend to visit once in a while.
However, what you can do in Florida at night, star-wise, is watch the real stars.
The ones above.
Yes, Florida is a rather urbanised area, so its 24/7 street and shopping mall lightning tends to obscure those potentially starry, starry skies at night. However, with this in mind, the state – or, rather, local enthusiasts – have taken care of the problem, so now you can gaze at the stars for as long as you want to in several places.
Firstly, there’s the Planetarium at the Miami Science Museum. Opened in 1966, it features a special projector which can reproduce stars and planets seen from anywhere on Earth at any given time. The museum’s Weintraub Observatory is home to two powerful Meade telescopes through which you can actually see Jupiter’s four moons and Saturn’s rings, and perhaps even a galaxy far, far away… For some entertainment, the nice fellows at the museum organise various star, music and laser shows to bring the life out there closer to us. And for the slightly nerdy types, the Planetarium has one Jack Horkheimer who has Star Gazer, a weekly TV show on naked-eye astronomy. This is his Youtube channel with all the videos: Star Gazer.
If you’re in town on a Saturday and feeling romantic, head to the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association and their Fox Observatory (to be found at Markham Park, West of Fort Lauderdale and North of Miami). Home to a 10 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain @ F/10, the 14 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain @ F/10, the 6.5″ Brandon Refractor, three Dobsonian reflecting telescopes*, and a bunch of really, really cool astronomy people who know their stuff well, the Fox Observatory is a good place to explore the skies at night. It opens at dusk, and you can hang out there until sunrise.
Then, the Everglades Astronomical Society in Naples has long served the public in amateur astronomy: they host observing sessions and generally promote semi-professional star-gazing. And in Pensacola, there’s a group of dedicated skygazers, the Escambia Amateur Astronomers’ Association. Join them for an informative session at a dark sky site in Florida.
Florida at night: perfect for star-gazing. Real star, real gazing.
* These names and numbers may not say much, but this is actually some good stuff!