Best Places For Stargazing In Chicago

August 3, 2013 7:00 AM


A major urban area, with its saturated light pollution and skyglow, is a futile place to view celestial objects, so that rooftop bar in the Loop isn’t going to satisfy your desire to eyeball the Perseid meteor shower from August 10-13, 2013. If you think you’ll just throw down a blanket at the beach, you might run into one of Chicago’s finest, since beaches close at 11 p.m. and best Perseid viewing time is between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Head to any of these spots in the Chicago area to see the beautiful night sky in all its splendor.



Cantigny Park
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161

Pack a picnic, insect repellent, chairs and blankets to celebrate the Perseid meteor shower with the Adler Planetarium on Monday, August 11, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The annual Meteor Shower Star Party takes place amid the beautiful surroundings of Cantigny Park, rain or shine, and features activities for all ages including telescope viewing, hands-on educational demonstrations and astronomer guidance. Larry Ciupik, Adler astronomer, says “This year, the moon will not interfere with your view of the shower, so you should see up to 60 meteors per hour, especially after midnight on the 12th of August. Look toward the constellation of Perseus as it slowly moves from the northeast early in the evening to high overhead near dawn.” Tickets are $9 for Adler members; $12 for non-members in advance at; or day-of on-site $15 per person (members and general public).

Hickory Knolls Discovery Center
3795 Campton Hills Road
St. Charles, IL
60175 (630) 513-4399

Hickory Knolls, a nature conservatory and advocate for dark skies, offers an event on August 10 that will coincide with this year’s Perseid shower as well as International Starry Night, a worldwide effort to celebrate and protect our night skies. The site’s building is a LEED certified ediface – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – and was the first of its kind in Kane County. The event will be held in athletic fields a few hundred yards from the building.

Related: Best Exhibits To Visit This Summer In Chicago

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 
1215 N. State Road 49
Porter, IN 46304
(219) 926-7561

The dunes hug the shore of Lake Michigan but unlike Chicago beaches and the relentless florescence from surrounding civilization, the park is comprised of over 15,000 acres of swamps, oak savannas, marshes, bogs, prairies, rivers, sand dunes and forests. Lots of in-the-know stargazers make the quick one-hour jaunt to this edge of Indiana for clearer views of the heavens.

The Little Red School House 
9800 Willow Springs Road
Willow Springs, IL 60480
(708) 839-6897

If the The Little Red School House in Willow Springs is good enough for the Chicago Astronomical Society, the oldest astronomical society in the western hemisphere, it should be a perfect place for your stargazing, too. It is surrounded by 15,000 acres of forest preserves, so skyglow is no such thing here. The Astronomical Society offers free public observing sessions every month when you are invited to bring your telescope or binoculars to observe with the experts.

Related: Best Outdoor Theaters In Chicago

Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Road (1 mile west of Barrington Road)
Barrington Hills, IL 60010
(847) 381-6592

On Friday, August 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., the nature center in northwest Cook county invites families to scan the skies for meteors. After a brief presentation on meteors and other celestial occurrences, you’ll head outdoors to search for falling stars. Registration is required and young stargazers must be at least 10 and accompanied by an adult. Call Crabtree Nature Center to sign up.

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at

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