Searching for the Stars


Best places to stargaze in Athens

Jackie Osborne / For The Post

You'd be amazed how many people never bother to look up.

Stargazing is more than looking up at the night sky and knowing that there are bright little dots somewhere in space. For thousands of years, sailors and travelers used the night sky as their map, following the position of the North Star. The Greeks first mapped the stars to learn more about their world.

Today, stargazing is a chance to look up at the vast expanse of space and find peace in realizing how small our lives and our problems are.

"It gives you a perspective to everything,” Ben Weiser, an Athens High School student and vice president of the Athens Astronomical Society, said. “You get a sense of how small we are. It's an experience that doesn't really have an equal."

Athens provides several good places to stargaze. The many hills around the area provide the kind of altitude you need to get closer to the sky, and the trees that surround every clearing block out the light pollution from town.

Here are three of the best places to stargaze in Athens, Weiser said.

1. Radar Hill

Only two miles from campus, the Radar Hill Trail is hidden behind the water tower next to The Ridges. A gravel and dirt road then leads to the hill itself, which is one of the highest spots in Athens and has an open view that stretches for miles. Because it's well removed from campus, there's very little light pollution.

Ally Campbell, a rising sophomore studying journalism, said she went to Radar Hill with her friends on Easter weekend and saw shooting stars.

"The sky was super clear and the stars were bright ... Radar Hill is an awesome place to spend time in nature and appreciate the beauty in Athens," Campbell said in an email.

2. West State Street Cemetery

The elevation of the cemetery is ideal and the trees shield the spot from light pollution. Weiser and the Athens Astronomical Society frequent this location to catch one of the best views of Jupiter. But beware of upsetting any graves.

3. Secret location

Astronomy professors George Eberts and Tom O'Grady know the best location outside of Athens to stargaze at night. If you want to witness some of the best sights of the night sky, take the class, Weiser said.

Students wait for a turn to look through a telescope at a star-gazing party in the State Street Cemetery. (Emma Howells | FILE)

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