Stargazing in Jackson Hole
Imagine a place where the stars shine brighter, and the night sky feels like a velvet canvas painted with constellations. Or just look at the picture below:
Pretty great, right? Jackson Hole is a stargazer’s paradise. You’ll find darker and more remote places to view the stars, but few with so many amenities close by (including a certain motel, of course). Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or just want to know more about those giant balls of gas burning millions of miles away, let us be your guide through the celestial wonders that await you.
Jackson has great views in every direction, and that includes up. Teton Valley is a uniquely conducive place to stargaze for a lot of reasons. First, because of its high elevation (6,237 in the valley), you’ve got less atmosphere to look through. The atmosphere might look transparent up close, but pack a lot of it together and you’ve got a different story. (There’s your elementary science lesson for the day.)
Other factors in Jackson’s clear skies are our low humidity and stable weather. And then finally there’s a large amount of undeveloped public land with relatively little light pollution. Put it all together and you’ve got great conditions for getting a gander at the night sky.
Where to See It
Where’s the best place to take advantage of Jackson Hole’s optimal conditions for viewing the stars? Here are a few suggestions.
- Grand Teton National Park: Within the park, places like Signal Mountain, Jenny Lake, and Schwabacher Landing provide unobstructed views of the night sky against the stunning Teton backdrop.
- Outdoor Project provides the following insider tip: “Take Gros Ventre Road at the roundabout and follow it to Antelope Flats Road to escape the traffic of the main highway. Once you pass the town of Kelly, there are several pullouts that offer fantastic stargazing locations with the silhouette of the Tetons to the west.”
- Snow King: The state’s second-largest telescope will soon be available for the public when the Snow King $5 million planetarium and observatory are completed. In addition to the state-of-the-art telescope with a meter-wide mirror, the facility will also house a 35-seat theater. This will be open in spring or summer or 2024.
How to See It
While stargazing in Jackson Hole is accessible to anybody with eyeballs, having the right tools can make the experience even more enjoyable. Consider bringing the following:
- DSLR camera: Wyoming Stargazing suggests you bring bing a travel tripod and a wide-angle lens, then point your camera south (in summer or fall) or west (in winter or sprint). They suggest setting your camera to a 30-second exposure at around 1600 ISO.
- Binoculars: You’d be surprised what you can see with a standard pair of birding binoculars.
- Telescope: If you’re a more serious enthusiast, investing in a telescope will allow you to explore deep-sky objects like nebulae and galaxies.
- Stargazing Apps: Download stargazing apps like Star Walk or SkySafari to identify constellations and celestial bodies with your smartphone. You can also print out the current star map.
Who to See It With
Not sure which end of a telescope to look into? Don’t want to venture off on your own? Enhance your stargazing experience by participating in local events and guided tours. Wyoming Stargazing offers year-round (when it’s above 0 Fahrenheit), public stargazing events on clear Thursdays beginning about an hour after sunset at the Stilson parking lot. (Free, with a $25/person recommended donation.)
Jackson Hole is more than a destination; it’s an astronomical sanctuary. The stargazing opportunities here are unparalleled, promising unforgettable nights under a canopy of stars. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer or a newcomer to the cosmos, Jackson Hole beckons you to look up, explore, and be awed by the mysteries of the night sky. Get more information here.
Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He likes to look up at the stars and just, like, think about how small we all are, man.
Dualiti Photos (2016). Stargazing with skippy [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/118087332@N04/27976211656