Your host:

Phil Harrington


Do you know of a dark-sky site that you would like to share with the rest of us?

If so, click here.

Will it be clear tonight?


Recipient for the week of December 24 - 30, 2000




One of life's little pleasures is standing outside on a clear, dark night and simply looking up at the starry tapestry passing overhead.  But with light pollution an ever increasing problem for amateur astronomers, the prospect of finding a dark observing site that is both accessible and convenient is becoming more and more difficult to accomplish.  Where can we set up our telescopes and enjoy the true majesty of the universe?

You just might find your astronomical nirvana here.  This constantly expanded continent-wide dark-sky observing site directory lists dozens of observing sites in 37 states and six Canadian provinces, with new sites being added regularly.  These sites have all been contributed by people just like you and me, who enjoy viewing the real universe, away from city lights and haze.

A disclaimer

With only a few exceptions, the descriptions here have been contributed by fellow amateur astronomers.  Where possible, information has been independently corroborated, but we cannot vouch for its accuracy or currency.  Use the listed observing sites at your own risk.

All sites are accessible by the public during the night, with few if any restrictions.  If a telephone number or other point of contact is listed, you would do well to give a call before "just showing up," to confirm the site's availability.  And please, whatever you bring with you, please take it away with you when you leave.

Take a look at the map or list below.  States and provinces that have dark-sky sites listed here are shown in red on the map and in bold-face type on the list below.


United States

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts

New Mexico

South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California  Iowa Missouri Ohio   Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware   Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming


Alberta New Brunswick Nova Scotia Quebec
British Columbia Newfoundland Ontario Saskatchewan
Manitoba Northwest Territories Prince Edward Island Yukon

Canadian amateur astronomer Attila Danko's Clear Sky Charts have been added to many of the observing sites listed here. These useful tools use meteorological data from the Canadian Meteorological Centre to predict if and when it will be clear from the site over the next 48 hours. Each clock actually lists three predictions: cloud cover, transparency, and darkness. These appear as three horizontal rows of squares, which vary in color from dark blue to white.

"Cloud" predicts cloud cover, while "tran" forecasts sky transparency. As the scale at the bottom of each clock shows, the darker the blue, the better. White indicates total overcast. The third row, "darkness," shows when the sky will be dark, assuming no light pollution and a clear sky. Black is a dark sky, varying degrees of blue show interference from moonlight or twilight, while white indicates daytime.

The date and times of predictions are shown below the three rows. "Local time" is just that, the local time on your clock or watch, but expressed in 24-hour format (e.g., military time). Note that the hours are stacked vertically.

Will it be clear tonight?  Take a look for yourself. . .

The Canadian Meteorological Centre issues predictions for sky transparency for the entire continent.  As they explain:

The goal of this new product is to inform you about expected sky transparency conditions in your region.

The images are sky transparency forecasts for North America. Moisture is the only element affecting sky transparency which can be both measured and forecast all across the globe. It is often the most important factor in reducing sky transparency. A muggy summer day with a whitish sky is the best example of this moisture effect.

Follow this link to their Sky Transparency Forecast For Astronomical Purposes.