If you thought catching an Arizona sunset was on the must-do list, try seeing our stars! Mesa's night sky programming is one of the most popular year-round activities for visitors to the Southwest. In Mesa, Arizona's third-largest city, you can get far enough from the bright city lights and open up your eyes to a star-studded sky. Arizona's clear desert skies offer some of the finest viewing conditions in the world for astronomical observations.
Mesa Community College is home to Arizona's newest Planetarium. Since opening, visitors have been invited inside to view the night sky and explore the universe and solar system for free in the theater and on the rooftop observation deck as part of the Astronomy Nights program. Note* due to summer break, Astronomy Nights are not held in the months of July and August. This free public event opens back up in September, offering shows that take place every half hour from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with telescope viewing from the observation deck beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Grab your flashlight and head out to Usery Mountain Regional Park to experience the sights of the desert at night while learning about our solar system. As part of their "Stargazing for Everyone" series, experts will tell constellation stories and teach park visitors about the moon, stars, planets and galaxies while viewing the sky through several telescopes and using a sky laser. Little ones can even go on flashlight tours seeking desert animals or a scorpion hunt with black lights! Save the date for the full moon hikes on June 13 and July 11!
Lost Dutchman State Park offers ranger-guided full moon hikes during the cycle of the full moon. No flashlights here as the moonlight is all you need to guide your path. The park also hosts monthly astronomy nights in season to teach visitors about the night sky. The park is located in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains tucked away from surrounding light pollution allowing for incredible, crisp views of the night sky in the middle of the still desert. Call ahead for complete details.
Watch reflections of night stars twinkle across the majestic Canyon Lake during a Twilight Dinner Cruise on Dolly Steamboat. For avid star seekers, be sure to experience their monthly Astronomy Cruises, where passengers have use of on-board telescopes to view the breathtaking beauty of the solar system under the instruction of astronomy expert Dr. Sky. Call for current tour schedules, advance reservations recommended.
Journey from the Earth to the moon, exploring lunar mountains, highlands, deep canyons, and eons-old craters. Observe massive Jupiter, rotating serenely more than 500 million miles away, in breathtaking detail as she comes alive through your telescope. Her colorful belts and bands, maroon swirls, Great Red Spot, and 4 Galilean moons can all be seen. The eclipses of Jupiter by its moons can be perceived in real-time. Saturn, though it’s more than a billion miles distant, can be readily observed through our high-powered telescopes. This giant is one of the most beautiful spheres in the heavens, her rings and moons placidly hovering in the dark stillness. Although the stars closest to the Earth are trillions of miles away, they shine and shimmer like glittering jewels laid out for our appreciation. Gaseous nebulae, serving as sort of celestial nurseries, spawn thousands of stars.