by SHYANNE LOPEZ

Stargazing in San Diego

Being surrounded by beaches, beautiful landscapes, and a sprawling city, it’s no wonder we tend to keep our eyes focused on what is laid out right in front of us. While known for its sunny and clear skies, come sunset, parts of San Diego’s skyline are anything but empty – you just have to look up.

For years, the area has attracted professional and amateur astronomers and stargazers alike for the highly accessible view of not just stars but also our own galaxy and nearby planets. In fact, this spring, Mars will be the largest and most clear that it’s been in more than a decade. It’s the perfect occasion to bring out your inner astronomer.

While it’s tough to stargaze in highly developed areas, you can view them with ease at various rural locations in and around the county that have remained virtually untouched by city lights. So, if you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the cosmos this spring, jump in your car and check out one – or all – of these unique destinations.


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Two hours east of San Diego, you can find California’s largest state park. The desert is a hot spot for professional and amateur stargazers due to its seclusion from urban lights. In fact, the park’s neighboring town of Borrego Springs was designated in 2009 as the second “Dark Sky Community” in the world by the International Sky Association, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the nighttime environment.

Tierra Del Sol
Located in southeastern San Diego County is the Tierra Del Sol observing site. Established by the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA), the site is home to monthly star parties that are open to the public. Star parties offer visitors the opportunity to observe the sky through professional telescopes, and receive guided viewings from experienced astronomers. Learn more at www.sdaa.org.

Julian
Primarily known for its apple orchards, this quaint mountain town actually has night skies dark enough to host the SDAA’s annual Julian StarFest each summer. This spring, you can admire and explore their starry skies by checking out nearby campgrounds or parks. If you don’t feel like roughing it, the town also boasts its own astronomy-themed bed and breakfast.

Torrey Pines State Reserve
While you won’t see as many stars from Torrey Pines State Reserve, just north of La Jolla, it offers darker skies than expected and doesn’t require a road trip. The beach offers the perfect location to look up at the cosmos, complete with the sound of crashing waves. Torrey Pines stays open until 11 p.m., and since it won’t be peak visiting hours, catching road-side parking should be a cinch.