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It's International Dark Sky Week Around Oregon, the Coast: Time to Stargaze Like Crazy

Published 04/15/23 at 1:22 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

It's International Dark Sky Week Around Oregon, the Coast: Time to Stargaze Like Crazy

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(Oregon Coast) – This week, tourism officials want you to celebrate International Dark Sky Week 2023 in Oregon, and that includes the coast. It runs Saturday, April 15th to Saturday, April 22nd. (Bandon at night, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Looking up at night is something you can do any time of the year, especially if there are no clouds. This internationally-celebrated week is there to push the message even further: look up this week. Whether you're a visitor or a townie in your own town, International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) is a prime moment to remind you of the heavenly objects above. You'll never know what you'll see (check out the wild fireball seen just recently by Oregon Coast Beach Connection Spectacular Green Fireball Lights Up Oregon Valley Through Washington Coast).

Those touting the “star-studded celebration” include astronomy expert Jim Todd with Portland's OMSI and Travel Oregon.

“Travel Oregon is reminding visitors that the spring and summer months are optimal times to stargaze and observe celestial bodies,” the agency said in a press release. “Visitors to the state are invited to participate in star-focused events and activities.”

Those include regular astronomy events put on by OMSI and the Rose City Astronomers in northwest Oregon, including the OMSI Star Parties held once a month from June through September at both Rooster Rock State Park and L.L. Stub Stewart State Park in the Oregon Coast Range.

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Oregon's outback country of eastern Oregon and central Oregon are especially conducive to star gazing. In fact, Travel Oregon said that Prineville Reservoir State Park — about a 50-mile drive northeast of Bend — became Oregon’s first state park to earn certification as an International Dark Sky Park in May 2021. It joined Sunriver Resort as the only other “International Dark Sky Place” in Oregon and is now one of fewer than 200 such places around the world.

Much of the reason behind IDSW is to address light pollution, which is worsening around the globe quickly.

Then there's always the Oregon coast. While not as clear as often as those other areas of the state – when skies do clear up it's a stunning show. The Milky Way emerges in full form, with its thick belt of stars and outer space haze stretching across the sky. Meanwhile, there's that always-engaging presence of the surf nearby and that soothing noise of ocean waves.

For any trip around Oregon to check out the skies, Travel Oregon says: “You may want to bring a camera and tripod, telescope and a paper map and download an app for stargazing.”

Indeed, high vantage points along the coastline provide some extra amazing sights. For one, they're often above much of the ocean mist that's directly above beaches. Oregon Coast Beach Connection recommends Neahkahnie Mountain above Manzanita especially. For some reason – and perhaps it's just dumb luck – some report seeing a lot of random shooting stars atop the atmospheric viewpoint.

There's a major meteor shower that peaks soon this month, see Three Meteor Showers on Oregon coast [April is Stellar Above Oregon Coast / Washington Coast - Three Meteor Showers ]. And later this year an awe-inspiring solar eclipse will dazzle the region, but especially the south Oregon coast. Big Eclipses Coming to Oregon / Washington Coast

Cape Foulweather at night, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Other high vantage points perfect at night are those with parking lots directly looking out over the surf. Don't head down trails at night to look for viewpoints along the way, such as in the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor. Lofty parking areas with viewpoints you will want to check out at night: Cape Blanco, Face Rock, Cape Arago, the unmarked gravel pullout just a mile or two south of Cape Perpetua, the overlooks near Heceta Head, Otter Rock near Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, the tiny park next to Coho Oceanfront Lodge in Lincoln City, Anderson's Viewpoint near Oceanside, and the Silver Point overlooks just south of Cannon Beach.

All these are excellent for viewing, although being quite high up they may get windier than beaches below. You can get excellent night photographs from the beaches as well. You might also want to check the wet sand for glowing sand or the photographing the waves for glowing waves. The cause is bioluminescent phytoplankton.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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