For an out-of-this-world stargazing experience, enjoy date night or a family outing at one of the region’s perfect spots to watch the night sky.

Every Friday evening, dusk to midnight, weather permitting, Johns Hopkins University’s Maryland Space Grant Observatory welcomes the public to peer into the lens of its top-notch telescope featuring a 20-inch diameter mirror. With an instrument that big, the nebula will feel like it’s next door. Located on the roof of the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy. Call 410.516.6525 after 5 p.m. on Friday for up-to-the-minute details.

While couples might forgo Stargazing Fridays at the Maryland Science Center’s Observatory, families will love a night under the stars. Held every Friday from 5:30 pm to 9 p.m., weather permitting, the program is free (museum admission excluded). Call 410.545.2999 after 5 p.m. on Fridays to find out if the Observatory will be open that night.

Westminster’s Bear Branch Nature Center hosts public programs in its 29-seat, fully digital planetarium and two-year-old Blaine F. Roelke Memorial Observatory with a 14-inch telescope—perfect for finding Orion’s Belt or checking out the dark side of the moon.

Towson University’s Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences Department hosts monthly programs at the Watson-King Planetarium. Students, faculty and visiting scientists give talks accompanied by viewings, weather permitting, on the planetarium’s telescopes. Held on the third Friday of every month, the free program starts at 8 p.m., but get there early—seats fill up fast.

Of course, you can also go outside on a clear night with a blanket and a telescope—and maybe some bug spray. Pre-planning doesn’t hurt, either. Visit, the astronomer’s forecast, for a 48-hour picture of night sky visibility. Mark your calendar for a few astronomical events this summer. On July 30, Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation. Enjoy a fully illuminated moon on August 7 and the Perseids meteor shower on August 11 and 12. But the once-in-a-lifetime celestial event occurs on August 21 with a total solar eclipse. Best viewing will be across the center of the country, but a partial solar eclipse will be visible in most of North America. Get all the details at