Travel & Outdoors

Best Places For Stargazing In The South Bay

August 3, 2013 5:00 AM

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http://www.sccgov.org
So you missed the fireworks on the 4th of July. Not to worry. You have a chance to enjoy some pretty spectacular night sky displays when the Perseid meteor shower will be booked for a return engagement in our northern skies August 10th through the 13th. Whether you choose to view this spectacle at a planetarium or from a blanket stretched out on the ground, weather and night sky conditions cooperating, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss, another time when Mother Nature struts her stuff and shows us just what a grand ol’ gal she is. Below are several locations where you can see the show in the South Bay, free of charge, except for the cost of gas. Throw down a blanket and enjoy a free show.

The Lexington Reservoir County Park
17770 Alma Bridge Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 356-2729
www.sccgov.org/sites/parks

Lexington Reservoir County Park is just off Highway 17, not far from Los Gatos. Although the park itself closes at sunset, the surrounding roads are good places for observing the night sky. The area is quiet and there is little light pollution. It might be a good idea to phone the park to find out what current conditions are. In a high-risk fire year like this, some roads that are usually open may be closed to the public, particular on “spare the air” days.

Regional Open Space District
Administrative Office
330 Distel Circle
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 691-1200
www.openspace.org/activities

The Regional Open Space District is comprised of many acres of land in a variety of locations with trails for hiking and riding or just observing nature. Unfortunately, this usually has to be done during daylight hours since the park areas are closed to the public at sundown, however, there is an exception. For the purpose of astronomical observation, there is a special permit you can get. This is for the parking lot of the Monte Bello open space on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) near Cupertino. This permit is free and allows you to be in the parking lot until 2 a.m. Allow at least two days for processing. The link to the website where you may apply for the permit is above.

Balboa Park
7777 Airline Highway
Tres Pinos, CA 95075
(831) 628-9995

Balboa Park is the San Benito County Fairgrounds. There appears to be no website for the facility itself, only for the county fair and the phone number listed here is for the fair. It is an excellent place for stargazing. If there happens to be an event going on at the fairgrounds, you might not be allowed on the grounds of the facility, however the road leading to the park is a country road with many turnouts and will provide ample places for stargazing.

Related: 5 Bay Area Spots to Act Like a Kid Again

Ed Levin County Park
3100 Calaveras Road
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-6980 (park office)
www.sccgov.org

Ed Levine County Park, in the hills east of Milpitas, is a wonderful facility offering multiple public facilities: picnicking, camping, hiking, equestrian trails and some fishing. Far away from light pollution, it’s an excellent place to stargaze, particularly if you choose one of the small valleys where you will be shielded from the light pollution of Milpitas.

Night Sky Starry
Non-Official Venues

There are several places along Highway 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz where you can comfortably observe the night sky, however if you take Highway 9, off 17 going towards Felton and Ben Lomond, you will find several admirable locations for enjoying the night sky with even less light pollution than those along 17.

Related: Bay Area’s 10 Must-See Museums For Kids

 

Geraldine Duncann is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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