City lights make for a great view, but they’re no match for the natural beauty of a starry night sky. Light pollution can make it difficult to find places to stargaze in Philadelphia, but lucky for us, these spots offer visitors a chance marvel at the cosmos without leaving city limits.

The Joseph R. Lynch Observatory—Drexel University

On the first Wednesday of every month during the academic year (weather permitting), the Joseph R. Lynch Observatory at Drexel hosts a public observing night. Stop by roughly 30 minutes after sunset and take a peek through the lens of Philadelphia’s largest telescope. Light pollution from nearby buildings makes seeing star clusters difficult, but visitors can still check out views of Saturn, Jupiter, the moon, and Mars.

Location: 32nd and Chestnut Streets

The Joel N. Bloom Observatory—The Franklin Institute

The Joel N. Bloom Observatory is open to the public daily during museum hours. The multiple telescopes that The Franklin Institute makes available for use provide views of planets, bright stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Visitors have even reported seeing sun flares and spots on clear days, making each trip to the Observatory unpredictable. The museum also hosts monthly Night Skies in the Observatory where visitors can stargaze (free star maps are provided for visitors seeking out specific constellations), attend astronomy presentations, and take part in hands–on astronomy activities. 

Location: 271 North 21st St.

Fels Planetarium—The Franklin Institute

Pay a visit to The Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium and check out one of their awe–inspiring astronomical presentations. During each show, the planetarium’s dome—which measures 60 feet in diameter—transforms into a view of the cosmos. Whether you’re hoping to travel to the surface of Mars, take a tour of the night sky, or re–examine questions like “Where did we come from?” and “Are we alone in the universe?” every stargazer can find a show they’ll enjoy at Fels Planetarium.

Location: 271 North 21st St.

Fairmount Park

If you’re looking to do some classic stargazing in the great outdoors, look no further than Fairmount Park. Located on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Fairmount Park is an optimal location to escape Philly’s light pollution. The wide–open views of the night sky provided by the park make this location a popular space for city–dwellers looking to lay out a blanket and see the stars. The front lawn of the Belmont Mansion is said to be a particularly useful spot, with unobstructed views and plenty of space.

Location: 2000 Belmont Mansion Dr.


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