Best time to travel to Chicago

Stargazing in Chicago

Absorb the starry skies in the vicinity of Chicago

Best time: all year round (best in September–May)


Chicago might not be the first destination that pops into your mind when thinking about stargazing, as the Windy City is well-known for its extreme light pollution. Anyways, if you're a fan of this beautiful city and feel like stargazing, you can find several good spots to indulge in dark skies blanketed in twinkles. Of course, you shouldn't expect to see the Milky Way galaxy, but you can still count on a decent display of stars.

Best time to stargaze in Chicago

Even though the stars are there all year, the best time to chase the twinkling heavenly bodies embraces fall, winter, and spring. From September to May, the cooler air is less humid and grants better visibility. If it wasn't for the frost, winter would be perfect. Yet, the winning months in terms of comfortable air temperature and clear views are April, May, September, and October. Also, remember the Moon phases: the most rewarding nights are just before, during, and shortly after the New Moon.

Best stargazing locations


One of the best places to gaze at the universe is Adler Planetarium, a public museum dedicated to astronomy and astrophysics. It is America's first planetarium, founded in 1930 by Max Adler. The planetarium best suits those seeking a guided stargazing experience. Additionally, the staff sets up telescopes in different neighborhoods within various stargazing programs, bringing space closer to all citizens. Alternatively, you can have a similar experience at the Cernan Earth and Space Center by Triton College in River Grove. Every Saturday, the community college holds special Skywatch events.


If you prefer to behold a star-studded sky in nature, opt from a range of parks with protected dark skies. A lazy option that doesn't require leaving the city is Northerly Island. Focus your telescope to the east over Lake Michigan and enjoy the view. Anyways, a better decision would be to head to one of the remote areas, such as Highland Park's Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, Cantigny Park in Wheaton, or Palos Park Woods-North Nature Preserve. All of these sites are located within an hour's drive. But if you don't mind a longer journey (about 2 hours one-way), consider Coral Woods Conservation Area and Silver Springs State Park.

To sum up, Chicago has a wide choice of stargazing options both in and near the city. So pick the most appealing one and book a stay nearby for a couple of moonless nights. Just remember to monitor the weather forecast while planning your starry adventures.

Practical info

What time of the year is ideal for observing stars in Chicago?

Chicago stargazing is ideal from September through May since the lower humidity and clearer skies offer a better viewing experience. The months of April, May, September, and October have the most comfortable temperatures and clear skies. It is recommended to keep track of the Moon's phases since the most enjoyable stargazing sessions occur either just before, during, or after the New Moon. Show more

Where are the best stargazing spots in Chicago located?

For an organized stargazing experience, you can go to Adler Planetarium or the Cernan Earth and Space Center by Triton College in River Grove. Natural settings are excellent choices, such as parks that preserve dark skies for stargazing. Some of the recommendations include Northerly Island, Highland Park’s Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Palos Park Woods-North Nature Preserve, Coral Woods Conservation Area, and Silver Springs State Park. Show more

What is the effect of the city lights on stargazing in Chicago?

Chicago's urban area has high light pollution that makes finding ideal dark skies for stargazing challenging. Yet, some parks beyond the city's boundaries have protected spots for stargazing. Furthermore, some stargazing programs set up telescopes in various neighborhoods to make sky-gazing accessible to Chicago's residents. Show more

When is the perfect time to stargaze in Chicago?

Stargazing in Chicago is best during the New Moon since the Moon is not visible, resulting in clearer views of stars and other celestial bodies. It is preferable to pick a cloudless night when there is minimal light pollution as well. Stargazers may experience rewarding sessions a few nights before, during, and after the New Moon. Show more

What should you carry when planning a stargazing activity in Chicago?

Preparation is essential when planning a stargazing activity in Chicago. Be sure to bring a telescope or binoculars for better viewing, a chair or blanket for comfort, and a red flashlight to avoid disturbing night vision. Dressing in layers is highly recommended, as nighttime temperatures can be unpredictable. Finally, check the weather forecast to ensure a clear sky and dress appropriately. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych