Stargazing is one of the most rewarding and relaxing activities you can do while RVing. There is nothing like gazing at the stars and planets in a dark and quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

However, quality stargazing is not quite as simple as it may seem. There are some common mistakes that RVers make when they try to observe the night sky, and these can ruin your experience. In this article, we will tell you what these mistakes are and how to avoid them, so you can enjoy the best stargazing possible.

Mistake #1: Not Doing Your Research Before You Go

One of the biggest mistakes RVers make when stargazing is not doing their homework before they hit the road. If you want to see the best celestial objects and events, you need to know what to look for, where to look, and when to look. Otherwise, you might miss out on some amazing sights or waste your time looking at the wrong spot. Become a planner like us if you want to see everything!

To avoid this mistake, you should do some research before you go. You can use books, websites, YouTube, apps, or podcasts to learn about the night sky and what’s happening in it. For example, you can use a website like Sky & Telescope or an app like Stellarium to find out what constellations, planets, comets, and other phenomena are visible in your location and time. You can also use a podcast like Looking Up to get tips and insights from astronomy experts.

Mistake #2: Choosing a Bad Stargazing Spot

Stargazing Camping Map of the US
Stargazing Map of the US | ©

Another common mistake RVers make when stargazing is choosing a bad spot to set up their campsite or telescope. A bad spot can have too much light pollution, noise, obstructions, or weather issues that can interfere with your view of the stars. This is an area Alison and I really suggest you spend time researching. We thoroughly research exactly where we want to stay to optimize our dark sky experience.

To avoid this mistake, you should choose a spot that is as dark, quiet, clear, and open as possible. You can use our stargazing map to find places that have low light pollution. Also, avoid camping near bright lights, loud generators, tall trees, buildings, or mountains that can block your view.

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast and the moon phase before you go, as clouds, rain, wind, or a bright moon can also affect your stargazing.

Mistake #3: Not Protecting Your Night Vision

Red headlamps are important to us

A third mistake RVers make when stargazing is not protecting their night vision. Night vision is the ability of your eyes to adapt to the darkness and see faint objects in the sky. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark, but it only takes a few seconds of bright light to ruin it. Personally, I always hate when an intense flashlight resets my night vision, and I have to wait another 20 minutes to really see the stars. It’s annoying!

To avoid this mistake, you should avoid looking at any bright sources of light while stargazing, such as flashlights, lanterns, phone screens, car headlights, or campfires. You should also turn off any lights inside or outside your RV, as they can create light pollution that reduces the contrast and clarity of the stars.

If you need some light for safety or convenience reasons, you should use red light instead of white light, as red light has less impact on your night vision. You can cover your white light sources with red cellophane or paper, or use red LED lights or filters. You can also turn off your phone screen or use a night mode app that makes it red.

Mistake #4: Not bringing the right supplies

Another mistake RVers make when stargazing is not bringing the right supplies for their activity. Stargazing can be a fun and comfortable experience if you have the right gear and accessories, but it can also be a frustrating and miserable one if you don’t.

To avoid this mistake, you should bring the following supplies for stargazing at a minimum:

– A comfortable chair or blanket to sit or lie on
– Water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized
– A star chart or an app to help you find and identify constellations
– Binoculars or a telescope to magnify your view of the stars
– Warm clothes to keep you cozy in the cold night
– A red flashlight or headlamp to see in the dark without ruining your night vision

Mistake #5: Having Unrealistic Expectations

The last mistake RVers make when stargazing is having unrealistic expectations about what they will see in the sky.

The Milky Way Over a Jayco RV at State Forest State Park
Camping at State Forest State Park | ©Alison Takacs

Many people expect to see colorful and detailed views of stars and planets like they see in movies or photos taken by professional telescopes. However, these images are often enhanced by filters, colors, editing software, or long exposure times that capture more light than our eyes can. I’m sure you’ve seen these pictures all over Instagram.

To avoid this mistake, you should have realistic expectations about what you will see in the sky. Most stars and planets will appear as white or yellow dots or disks, and some fainter objects like galaxies or nebulae will look like gray smudges or blobs. However, this does not mean that stargazing is boring or disappointing. Nope. Stargazing can be a fascinating and rewarding experience if you appreciate the beauty and wonder of the night sky and the amazing objects and events that it contains.

Bonus Tip: Be Patient and Curious

Stargazing is not a fast or easy activity. It requires patience and curiosity to explore the sky and discover its secrets. Some objects may take time to appear or reveal their details depending on the season, the time, and the location. You may also encounter some challenges or difficulties, such as bad weather, faulty equipment, or confusing directions. Don’t let these discourage you from stargazing. Instead, use them as opportunities to learn more and improve your skills.

To make your stargazing more enjoyable and educational, you can also try some of these resources and activities:

– Join a local astronomy club or society to meet other stargazers and share your experiences and tips. You can also attend star parties or public observing events organized by these groups.
– Visit a planetarium or an observatory to see the sky in a different way and learn more about astronomy from experts and guides.
– Read a book or watch a YouTube video about astronomy to expand your knowledge and get inspired by stories and images of the cosmos.
– Play a game or a quiz about the night sky to test your memory and have fun with your family or friends.

We have found stargazing to be one of the best ways to enjoy nature while admiring our expansive universe while RVing. Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid common mistakes and have a successful and fun stargazing adventure. 

We’ll see you out there!

Want more? Try this article next: A Man’s Ultimate Guide to Romantic Date Night Stargazing

Takacs Family in front of Jayco RV
The Takacs Family

About the Authors

We are avid stargazers Jason and Alison Takacs also known as Roadtrippin’ with Takacs. With our two boys Preston and Grayson, we seek out some of the darkest skies in the country while also going on many incredible hiking and other outdoor adventures. As part-time RVers, we try to see as much of this amazing world as possible in our spare time and hope you will join us through this blog on RWT Adventures and other forms of social media as we explore the night sky and other natural wonders as hardcore astrotourists.