A crystal clear sky with minimal ground lighting is the perfect place to see the moon, the stars and nearby planets. One of the best places to look up and get a front-row view of our solar system is the Big Bear Lake area in the San Bernardino Mountains. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Dipper and more up close, follow our guide to throwing a Big Bear Lake stargazing party.
Big Bear is a Prime Stargazing Spot
Big Bear Lake is one of only a few prime locations in Southern California near Los Angeles that has clear night skies for stargazing. The altitude of the mountains provides clearer images. The overhead view is dark enough to get wonderful views of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon.
Big Bear Stargazing Party Spot Suggestions
There are many great places for stargazing parties. For optimal viewing:
- Look for a location away from bright lights that has a wide view of the sky
- Avoid dusty locations
- Allow your eyes to adapt to the dark for 10 to 15 minutes for optimal stargazing
Tips for a Comfortable Stargazing Party Evening
To have a comfortable and successful Big Bear stargazing party:
- Check the weather before you leave to make sure storms are not approaching and the sky is clear.
- Check the moon phases and rising and setting times of the moon
- Bring winter clothes and jackets to stay warm
- Bring a flashlight to light up paths
- Stay away from the proximity of car roads and paths that can disrupt your stargazing
- Bring a folding chair or reclining chair
- Bring a compass and a star chart map
- Prepare drinks and snacks
- Use a good pair of binoculars
Planet Pointing is Key
If there is a planet visible from the Big Bear night sky, your stargazing party just got more exciting. If Jupiter or Saturn are visible, focus those telescopes on the rings of those plants, which never fail to spur some excitement.
Use Your Phone Too
Impress your stargazing friends by pulling out your phone and showing them the stars and planets with the help of a sky app. Many of these apps are free and can help you easily navigate the stars from the convenience of your smartphone.
Look for the Space Station
You can always check for passes of the International Space Station at NASA’s Spot The Station.
What You Can See as Spring Approaches
As winter fades and spring approaches, keep an eye out for the following:
- Jupiter is ripe for viewing soon and you will be able to see eclipses of its moons too.
- Double stars in the Big Dipper
- Red stars, which have smoky red hues
- A galaxy with spiral structures
Big Bear is Home to the Largest Solar Telescope on Earth
Big Bear Lake is home to the largest solar telescope on Earth: The Big Bear Solar Observatory’s New Solar Telescope (NST). While the observatory is not open to the public on a regular basis, it has issued mesmerizing video and pictures over the years, including sunspots and details of active plasma in the sun. Observatory researchers work to understand solar weather and its impact on space climate in our part of the solar system. This telescope was built here because Big Bear experience more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
Check out the sunshine by viewing the Big Bear Solar Observatory web cam. You can also call the observatory at (909) 866-5791, ext. 10 for tour information.
Connect with Big Bear Valley Astronomers
The Big Bear Valley Astronomers welcomes all levels of astronomers, from beginners to advanced, to local star parties held at various locations. Check their calendar of events or contact them directly at (760) 265-1938 to learn more.
Book Your Big Bear Vacation Stay
It’s time to plan your stargazing adventure at Big Bear Lake! Schedule a Big Bear vacation at Big Bear Frontier. We have comfortable cabins and luxury hotel rooms ready for you to enjoy the area and our evening stargazing opportunities. Make your reservation today.