You’ll never catch us saying that snowflakes are overrated. But when it comes to natural wintertime wonders that require looking to the sky, snowflakes aren’t the only game in town. The dry, clear skies of winter make for excellent stargazing. Below are some suggested locations for making the most of it—while staying warm, of course.
If you’re in a suburban location or don’t have the time to drive out of town, finding a local field for a sport that’s no longer in season—like baseball, track or, depending on the month, football—could be your best bet. If it’s away from the main part of town you’ll have less light pollution than you might encounter in your own neighborhood.
You may not need your warmest winter coat for this venue, but you’ll definitely want to wear a winter parka or down coat. Make the most of the wide-open space by bringing along a cozy throw blanket that you can toss on the field for sitting and holding any snacks or mugs of hot chocolate you may have brought along.
The more adventurous types—or those with some more time on their hands—can dare to leave light pollution behind and venture into the wilds. If you decide to take to the woods, you’ll still want to find a clearing, of course. As lovely as snow-covered branches can be, they’ll also prove a star-gazing impediment.
You’ll truly be out in the wild for this one, and might be some walking distance from your car. So plan to dress as warmly as you can to stay warm and toasty during your star-watching experience.
Start with a base layer of long underwear, which can trap heat without feeling bulky under your clothing. Top that with a turtleneck (you’ll appreciate the extra neck protection) and then the warmest winter coat you have on hand. If there’s been any recent snowfall, you’ll want to wear your snow pants, boot socks and winter boots. If there’s any chance at all of rain, hedge your bets by upgrading to a waterproof winter coat and waterproof boots.
This should only be attempted if you are 100% absolutely sure that a body of water is frozen solid. If you are, a frozen lake can offer all the benefits of a forest clearing, plus a little winter ambience of its own. If you go this route, slip-resistant boots will be a must.