Stargazing in Indianapolis - Josh Hallett via Flickr

The 10 Best Places to Go Stargazing in Indianapolis

In Stargazing Guideby Valerie Stimac

Located at the “Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis is the kind of city you could pass through on a great American road trip… but it’s also an amazing place to stay and visit – or to live! STG founder Valerie lived there for three years, in fact!

Like many cities, it’s hard to go stargazing in Indianapolis. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Below, we’ve detailed some of the best stargazing spots in Indianapolis and the surrounding region.

The Best Spots for Stargazing in Indianapolis

Below, you’ll find a map of stargazing spots in Indianapolis and the surrounding region. Read on to learn more about each of these spots and what makes them good for stargazing.

Holcomb Observatory

Located on the Butler University campus, Holcomb Observatory is also home to a planetarium which offers public shows certain weekends each year. Typically, an open house will include a planetarium show followed by a telescope viewing. Be sure to check the website to see which weekend(s) the observatory will be open each month – and for certain upcoming closures.

4600 Sunset Ave, Indianapolis, butler.edu

Stargazing near Indianapolis - Serge Melki via Flickr
Photo credit: Serge Melki via Flickr

Eagle Creek Park

On the northwestern outskirts of Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park is one of the city’s largest parks. This makes it a great green space by day – and offers some protection from light pollution by night.

Eagle Creek Park is generally open from dawn til dusk depending on the month of the year. However, there are sometimes intermittent stargazing events held in the park; the easiest way to find these details is to Google to see if there’s one upcoming.

7840 W 56th St, Indianapolis, indy.gov

Stargazing Spots Within 1 Hour of Indianapolis

Stargazing near Indianapolis - Scott Morris via Flickr
Photo credit: Scott Morris via Flickr

Goethe Link Observatory

39 minutes southwest of Indy, Goethe Link Observatory is operated by Indiana University Astronomy Department in the town of Martinsville. The observatory is home to a 0.91-m reflector and a 10-inch astrograph; the reflector dates back to 1939.

The Indiana Astronomical Society hosts events here occasionally. Be sure to check their events calendar to see if one is upcoming.

8403 Observatory Rd, Martinsville, astro.indiana.edu

McCloud Nature Park

McCloud Nature Park is another, more popular spot used by the Indiana Astronomical Society for events (during the summer months, they can be as often as weekly!). 49 minutes west of downtown Indy by car, McCloud Nature Park is a great family option, as they often offer other programming during the day that appeals to all ages.

8518 Hughes Rd, North Salem, hendrickscountyparks.org

Stargazing Spots Within 2.5 Hours of Indianapolis

Stargazing in Indiana

Kirkwood Observatory

Kirkwood Observatory is located on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington. While that might not seem like an ideal place to see the night sky due to light pollution, but it’s a great spot if you’re in the area or planning a weekend south of Indy.

It’s a 75-minute drive by car; they hold open houses regularly if you check the website to see when they’ll be open.

119 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington, astro.indiana.edu

Stargazing near Indianapolis - StevenW. via Flickr
Photo credit: StevenW. via Flickr

West Lafayette Observatory

75 minutes in the other direction, West Lafayette Observatory is operated by the Wabash Valley Astronomical Society. Roughly once per month, the society hosts open house events where the public can come and see the night sky. On these nights you can come peer through telescopes to see the planets, star clusters, nebulae, and even other galaxies.

600 Cumberland Ave, West Lafayette, wvastro.org

Turkey Run State Park

If you want to plan an easy weekend stargazing trip, consider Turkey Run State Park. It’s an 80-minute drive from downtown Indy to Turkey Run; a bit far for a single night but ideal for escaping the city’s light pollution.

There are regular planetarium programs you can attend, then spend the evening afterward admiring the night sky if the weather is good.

8121 Park Rd, Marshall, in.gov/dnr/parklake

Stargazing in Indiana

Conway Observatory at Calumet Astronomy Center

2 hours north of Indianapolis, Conway Observatory is high in northwest Indiana – but not so close to Chicago that you won’t be able to see the sky. Operated by the Calumet Astronomy Center, you can attend an event roughly once per month. These events focus on one or more of the best things you can see in the sky on that night, weather permitting.

19110 Chase St, Lowell, casonline.org

Indiana Dunes National Park

At the time of writing, Indiana Dunes was among the nation’s newest national parks. A 15,000-acre swath of naturally occurring sand dunes at the bottom of Lake Michigan, this is one of Indiana’s greatest natural treasures and an ideal spot for stargazing.

It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Indianapolis to the Dunes so this is a perfect weekend trip; you can stay at Dunewood Campground in the park. One of the best spots in the park is Kemil Beach, where organized events are occasionally held too.

1215 N State Rd 49, Chesterton, nps.gov/indu

Stargazing near Indianapolis - Indiana Dunes National Park via Flickr
Photo credit: Indiana Dunes National Park via Flickr

Valparaiso University Observatory

One last option that’s a bit of a drive is Valparaiso University Observatory, 2.5 hours north of Indianapolis. The Physics & Astronomy department operates this observatory. They hold open houses for the public. These are usually 1-2 times per month during each semester.

Valparaiso, valpo.edu

Planetariums In & Near Indianapolis

If you can’t make it to one of these stargazing spots, there are other options. Here are a few of the planetariums you could plan to visit.

  • SpaceQuest Planetarium at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is your best bet in Indy. This planetarium is great for families.
  • Charles W. Brown Planetarium at Ball State University is 75 minutes northeast of Indy.
  • Robert H. Rivers Planetarium at Challenger Learning Center is 2.5 hours north between Gary and Chicago. Great for folks in that area too!

Best Time of Year to Go Stargazing in Indianapolis

If you’re curious about the best time of year for stargazing in Indianapolis, it’s important to keep in mind air temperature, humidity, and cloud cover.

Considering those factors, the best months for stargazing in Indianapolis are mid-September to October. That means Indianapolis is a great destination to try and see the Draconids and Orionids meteor showers!

Can You See the Milky Way in Indianapolis?

Stargazing in Indiana

Like most major cities, it’s impossible to see the Milky Way in the Indianapolis downtown area. There’s too much light pollution; this obscures the delicate features our eyes can see in our galaxy.

Instead, head 1-2 hours out of Indianapolis and you should be able to find a dark enough spot to see the Milky Way during the months when it is visible.

Have other questions about stargazing in Indianapolis? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Josh Hallett via Flickr

About the Author
Valerie Stimac

Valerie Stimac

Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She decided to start the site after realizing how many friends and family had never seen the Milky Way, and that space tourism was going to unlock the next great travel destination: space!