Mars is visible in the night sky this month and the next, but it won’t look like this unless you work for NASA. To your naked eye (or eyes modestly
Mars is visible in the night sky this month and the next, but it won't look like this unless you work for NASA. To your naked eye (or eyes modestly clothed with glasses or contacts), it'll look more like a bright, red dot to the southwest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Stargazing tips

• Tell someone where you're going and when you plan to return. Make sure it's someone who is at least casually interested in your well-being.

• It's colder at night because the sun has gone down. If you didn't know this, I don't know how you got into college.

• Bring enough water. This is just a general Colorado rule.

• Be careful where you park. In the city of Boulder, most trailhead parking lots are closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

• Even if there's a full moon out, wear a headlamp just in case you have to flee into the wilderness. Alternatively, you might get bored and want to pretend you're the Eye of Sauron.

• Don't bolt out of a well-lit space into the pitch-black night like a dumbass. Let your eyes adjust to the semi-dark first.

• Are you stargazing in a truck bed? They're uncomfortable, so bring yoga mats and/or sleeping bags. Also, don't get arrested for having sex in a pickup truck.

• Check the weather. If it's cloudy or the sun is out, then the stars are hiding because they hate you.

Are those cheap glow-in-the-dark stickers slowly falling off your overpriced apartment ceiling just not cutting it for you these days? Go outside, and look up instead of down at "Pokemon Go" for 10 goddamned minutes.

Stars! A metric shit-ton of them. Also planets and other stuff, too.


Scientific fact: Did you know that ever since Boulder outlawed motorized vehicles in 2015, the stars shine at bright as every light seems when you're hungover AF? (Editor's note: No. This is not true). As unbelievable as that sounds, it's true. (Editor's note: Again, no.)

Stargazing is an easy and romantic activity. Find someone you'd like to gaze at. Convince them to go outside — this part is important — in an open, outdoors area with you. Don't lure them into a confined space and block the only exit. Don't convince them to stare at the sun with you at noon. Don't convince them to go outside at night but forget to go along.

OK, now that you have all that down, you need to find a place to go. There are plenty of open spaces around Boulder where you can get out from under the oppressive glow of city lights. Hiss at the lame-ass electric lights, too, while you're on your way to go stargazing. It will impress your date.

Generally, if you can go north and west away from Denver, there will be less light pollution.

Janelle Pacheco, who studied astrophysics, suggested Chautauqua as a good starting point, but hopeful stargazers might find the light pollution from Boulder a little discouraging. Pacheco recommended driving or hiking up Flagstaff Mountain at night to look not only above at the starts but also below at the city lights.

"I drove up there and stopped, and it's one of the most beautiful things," Pacheco said in the winter.

While some may be tempted to hike over to the Boulder Star on Flagstaff, Phillip Yates with the city's Open Space and Mountain Parks department said it isn't expressly prohibited but they don't recommend it.

"There's no official or designated trail that takes you there, and there is steep terrain," Yates said in the winter. "It's difficult for people to go there, and there are certainly opportunities to see the star from other properties."

Now if you'd like to take your date out to something a little more structured and indoors, you could check the Sommers-Bausch Observatory, which is just east of the Fiske Planetarium on Kittridge Loop. The observatory has an open house every clear Friday night when CU courses are in session. The summer session open house schedule cut off on Aug. 12, but check back at for more dates once school is back in session. They've got telescopes they'll let you look through and people who know much more about astronomy than either you or this reporter to answer your questions. Making out with your date in the observatory is strictly frowned upon, so don't mix up private just-the-two-of-us stargazing with the observatory's open house brand.

The observatory's website does have some sweet pictures of some local astrophotography. Keep an eye out for a blotchy thing in the sky called M1, or a thing that looks like a literal damned eye floating out there in space called M57, aka the Ring Nebula. Or there's this other thing that looks like purple and pink splotches called M20, or the Trifid Nebula. Wild.

Karen Antonacci: