Find the best nights to stargaze using our dark sky calendar! Stargazing is best when the Sun has set low enough below the horizon so that twilight does not affect observations. You should also avoid times when there is a bright Moon in the sky at night. With no twilight or Moonlight the Milky Way may be clearly visible (depending on the time of year). Also at these times deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae look best through telescopes. Dark sky sites are only dark when there is no Moon!
In our calender Moonlight is shown in light yellow and the Sun’s twilight in light blue. Midnight on each date shown is shown as a white line with sunset to the left and sunrise the next morning to the right. A black background with stars shows the best times for stargazing.
We determine the best times go stargazing based on the phase of the Moon and “nautical twilight” ending and commencing each night. This is when the Sun is 12 degrees or more below the horizon, a time when we feel the skies are dark to be enjoyed by stargazers. The even darker hours of astronomical twilight and astronomical darkness between the hours of nautical twilight are included.
Hours of darkness depends on not only on the time of year but your location too. Our calendar is based on being located at the Royal Observatory in London. As your specific location will determine the exact times that the Sun and Moon will rise and set the times in our calendar may differ by a few minutes depending on where you are.