Updated October 28, 2008Dark sky sites, even in the Southwestern U.S., are highly sought after. Dark sky destinations are precious and becoming harder to find. Dark sky tourism appeals to amateur astronomers looking for prime viewing space, dark-skies advocates, as well as travelers who just love to vacation where they can enjoy stargazing under a truly dark sky. The Southwest has many special places where artificial light does not diminish the awesome beauty of a night sky.
Destinations include observatories, national and state parks, ancient sites with astronomical significance, accommodations with private viewing, star parties and areas simply offering views of the night sky.
To amateur astronomers, the perfect vacation centers around a star party at a destination where they can set up telescopes, enjoy the night viewing and the fun with their fellow stargazers. These are typically organized by a local or regional astronomy club at the same location each year. A lucky few organizers have several great dark-skies sites from which to choose. These star parties do welcome amateur astronomers from around the world. Registration in advance is almost always required.
For those seeking that perfect place to enjoy pure transparent dark skies of the Southwest we have gathered information by stateStar Party 101 for important information to know before attending your first star party.