When you think of Baltimore, stargazing may not be the first thing that comes to mind, yet this urban landscape holds a few surprising celestial secrets. Amid the city’s rich history and bustling harbor, there exists a vibrant stargazing community and several remarkable locations where the wonders of the cosmos reveal themselves.
Baltimore’s diverse range of locales for stargazing, both within and just outside the city, offers an escape from the urban glow into the tranquility of the night skies above Maryland. From the state-of-the-art Maryland Science Center’s observatory offering views of celestial bodies through powerful telescopes, to the serene, dark sky parks just a short drive from the city, such as Kent Island or Green Ridge State Forest – the possibilities are star-studded.
So join me as we journey from the city streets of Baltimore to the farthest reaches of the Milky Way. With the right spots and a bit of celestial guidance, we’ll reveal how Baltimore’s night skies sparkle with a beauty all their own. It’s time to step out and look up; the universe awaits!
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Susquehannock and Piscataway peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
The Best Spots for Stargazing in Baltimore
Big cities are far from ideal places for exploring the night sky. But, there are always a couple of locations where you can get your astronomy fix. Here’s one great place for stargazing in Baltimore.
Maryland Science Center
Located right in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Maryland Science Center offers an excellent opportunity for stargazing enthusiasts. The property features a rooftop observatory where you can enjoy a clear night sky view while listening to knowledgeable staff members. They also have a fantastic planetarium where they host shows about different astronomy subjects.
Note: The Observatory is temporarily closed, but check out their website for the latest news.
Stargazing Spots within 1 hour of Baltimore
If you’re willing to venture slightly outside of Baltimore, there are numerous good locations within a one-hour drive that offer exceptional stargazing experiences.
Anne Arundel Community College
Located in Arnold, the Anne Arundel Community College is home to an observatory that hosts stargazing events and educational programs throughout the year.
You can also join some of the events hosted by the Anne Arundel Community College’s Astronomy Club. They’re pretty active and always offer a variety of astronomy-related activities to the public.
The only drawback of stargazing at this observatory is that the facility isn’t open year-round and only welcomes community members from August to February.
Bear Branch Nature Center
Bear Branch Nature Center sits in Westminster as part of the Hashawha Environmental Center. This serene nature center not only offers beautiful hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities but also provides stargazing events.
The center features a 30-seat planetarium that was renovated in 2013. Everything, from the planetarium shows to meetings is organized by the Westminster Astronomical Society. While each event is different, you get the best of both worlds. First, you enjoy an astronomical tour to get a glimpse of the galaxy and then a telescope viewing session to see the “live” version of what they’ve just learned.
Note that you can only visit after dark as part of a Carroll County Recreation and Park or WASI-sponsored program; you can find a list of upcoming events here.
City of Greenbelt Observatory
If you want a deep academic experience, the City of Greenbelt Observatory is one of the top Baltimore stargazing spots.
This Observatory offers standard viewing sessions for anyone interested in the cosmos. But, the real cream of the crop is their monthly lectures. For each lecture, they invite guest speakers from the nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Howard B. Owens Science Center
The Howard B. Owens Science Center is one of the best Baltimore stargazing spots for introducing your little one to astronomy.
Their massive planetarium offers all kinds of astronomy shows, from the solar system to the Greek’s first steps in astronomy. The programs are provided on the second Friday of every month from September through May.
You can also sign up for their mini-programs under the stars at every Science Center Family Night event.
Kent Island is the biggest Island in the Chesapeake Bay and is considered the gateway to Maryland and Delaware. It offers a peaceful and secluded spot for stargazing. You’ll be away from the pesky city lights, meaning you’ll have an unobstructed view of the night sky.
If you live nearby I highly suggest making a weekend trip to this place. Go on a nice sunny day. If possible visit the Terrapin Nature Park, there is a secret beach there not many people visit and the view from that spot is great.
St. John’s College Observatory and Planetarium
Another great spot for stargazing in Baltimore is the St. John’s College Observatory and Planetarium offers public stargazing events and educational programs on Monday and Thursday evenings throughout the academic year. You can join other astronomy enthusiasts and take a journey through the cosmos. Always remember to check out their website or Facebook page for the latest news.
University of Maryland Observatory
Nestled in College Park, the University of Maryland Observatory hosts public stargazing nights, providing a fun chance to explore the sky through their powerful telescopes. The observatory hosts a number of public events throughout the year and has open houses on the 5th and 20th of each month. The open house consists of a 30-minute lecture followed by a tour of the facility and its telescopes, and, weather permitting, viewing. It’s great for older kids!
Stargazing Spots within 2.5 hours of Baltimore
If you’re up for a slightly longer drive, there are a few stargazing spots within a 2.5-hour radius of Baltimore that are definitely worth the trip.
Green Ridge State Forest
Looking for a peaceful retreat away from the noise and city lights? Green Ridge State Forest is a fantastic option. Spreading over 46,000 acres, the park has no shortage of great places for setting up your telescope and wandering the night sky. It also offers 100 campsites and each one is spread far apart, so you don’t see your neighbor unless someone is driving by. Feel free to explore the area, but the scenic overlooks with a background of the Potomac River are lovely places for stargazing.
Have any questions about these spots for stargazing in Baltimore and the surrounding Eastern Seaboard? Or do you know others I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!