From the Forum – Setting up a telescope in DC?

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Setting up a telescope in DC?:

“This is likely a long shot, but is there anywhere in or very near to DC that is A) away from street lights, B) with open views of the sky, and C) open to the public at night?

I’d love to have somewhere to go set up my telescope, but my front yard is surrounded by bright streetlights and doesn’t have much of a view of the southern sky.

I’m fully aware that I live in a light-polluted city and not many stars are visible, but the major planets and moon are, and that’s all that’s really fun to look at through a small telescope anyway.”

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12 Comment

  • definitely check out ft. reno park.

    • OP here – thanks for the suggestions! I’ll look into a few of these astro clubs in the area as well!

    • I love Ft Reno! We lived a block away from there when I was a kid and my dad used to take us up to the top of the hill at Fessenden and 39th with his telescope on clear nights. It is the tallest point in the city, so it’s above the brightness of most of the city lights.

  • Soldiers Home in Park View? although you would need permission to set up. The Friends of the Soldier homes has weekly events there, maybe you could talk to them if you tied this in with one of their events. As an aside, its a blast to volunteer for happy hour or bingo over there. I took my toddler once and she had a great time wtih the residents too!

  • Join the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club ( and you can get access to their private member sites. Some are about 45 min drive from DC and you’ll get to meet up with fellow stargazers as well as get away from a lot of the DC light pollution.

  • I was thinking a park as well, but I know many of them are technically closed at sunset. The Park Service has a series on exploring the sky at the Nature Center. You could probably give them a call for ideas on stargazing in DC: (202) 895-6070.

  • The National Capital Astronomers ( hold their monthly observation open house
    in the field just south of the intersection of Military and Glover Roads NW, near the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. A parking lot is located next to the field; it has nice, wide field views.

  • Mall. Many parts of Rock Creek Park. Near RFK. National Medical Center. RCP in MD. Ft. Reno. Hains Point. Georgetwon Campus.

  • I live directly across the street from the old Soldiers Home and use my 8″ ap. telescope on my roof. Very clear views of the Orion nebula, the Green Ball nebula, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, many stars, and of course the moon. there is not a lot of light interference and you are higher up than other areas of DC.

  • There is a friendly club that meets out at Sky Meadows (get it? Sky meadows?) State Park in Virginia, you can meet other enthusiasts, some of whom are NASA people.

  • Colmar Manor Park, MD. just off of Bladensburg Road at the DC border. though i’m not sure if access to the park is allowed at night

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