You needn’t travel to far-off destinations for star and moon gazing. Minnesota is full of recreational parks and campsites perfect for celestial sightings and sleeping under the stars. The National Park Service (NPS) of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior has a complete list, but the best places to star and moon gaze are within an easy drive from the Twin Cities.

Eagle Lake Observatory
Baylor Regional Park
10775 County Road 33
Norwood Young America, MN
(952) 467-2426

A public site consisting of two observatories and an educational classroom, the Eagle Lake Observatory hosts many annual star gazing events. Its stellar star parties bring astronomy to the public. An important study facility for the Minnesota Astronomical Society (MAS) and a popular sky watch spot for MAS members, guests and visitors, Eagle Lake Observatory has over a dozen telescopes and four viewing platforms. Situated in a frequently visited regional park, Eagle Lake Observatory attracts outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy astronomy.

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(credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

(credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Larsmont Cottages On Lake Superior
596 Larsmont Way
Two Harbors, MN 55616
(866) 687-5634

Star gaze in luxury at any of the cozy cottages at Larsmont on Lake Superior. This resort is definitely a planetary venue. In addition to amenities such as a swimming pool, sauna, hot tub and world-class dining, Larsmont has a comprehensive sky watching guide. Updated regularly, this guide publishes featured articles about planets, the solar system, lunar happenings and galaxy phenomena. But an evening canoe or sunset kayaking on Lake Superior is a picturesque way to observe the night sky.

Onan Observatory
10775 County Rd. 33
Baylor Regional Park
Norwood-Young America, MN
(952) 467-2426

Begun with the Larson, a telescope named after a generous donor interested in advancing the science of astronomy, construction of Onan Observatory was long and laborious. But thanks to the Minnesota Astronomical Society and the efforts of dedicated volunteers, Onan Observatory was completed. Today, Onan Observatory sits on a sizable land parcel at Baylor Regional Park. Surrounding this public observatory is the Eagle Lake Observatory facility.

(credit: NASA)

(credit: NASA)

Eisenhower Observatory 
Eisenhower Community Center
1001 Highway 7
Hopkins, MN 55305
(952) 988-4070
www.hopkinsschools.orgEisenhower Observatory has professional tour guides who describe the planetary bodies visible only when night falls. A tall metal staircase leads to the observatory dome. From September thru May, the observatory is open to the public. Reservations are required. Viewing dates are published on the observatory website.

Goodsell Observatory 
Carleton College
One North College Street
Northfield, MN 55057
(507) 222-4383

Named for Charles Goodsell, the Goodsell Observatory was once the largest in Minnesota. Located on the Carleton College campus, the observatory houses three historic telescopes. Two of these historic scopes can be used for sky watching. The observatory also has state-of-the-art telescopes. Check out the open house nights to “view the moon, stars, planets, and nebulas using a variety of telescopes.” Have kids who are interested in astronomy? Check out Goodsell’s YASE (Young Astronomers Summer Experience) program, which runs through July 24.

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Linda Cameron has written home design, home improvement and lifestyle articles for The Boston Globe and City Shopper Magazine. She has related interests in the building industry, travel, real estate and financing. She is a contributor to Examiner, House Spot, Techsling and Behance, covering topics on career, people, businesses, education and technology.