Stargazing in Sydney is becoming more and more popular. And, although light pollution will hamper many efforts to get out and marvel at the huge “balls of gas burning billions of miles away”, there are quite a few phenomenal spots near Sydney perfect for stargazers to look up at the night sky and be amazed by the cosmos and its celestial wonders.
We’ve rounded up a few favourite places to see the stars near Sydney, with or without a telescope or binoculars; however, those always help.
Sydney Observatory, CBD
Not far from the bright lights of the city, the Sydney Observatory is one of Australia’s historically significant astronomical sites. Today, it is a museum and education centre housing an 1874 29cm lens telescope, a 42cm computer-controlled telescope and a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope—in laymen’s terms, some pretty strong stargazing equipment.
Overlooking Sydney Harbour, the site is currently being renovated but will be reopening to the public in mid-2022. In the meantime, make use of Sydney Observatory’s monthly sky guides as well as dive into their Southern Sky Livestreams starring a guest astrophysicist every month.
Linden Observatory, Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are close enough to Sydney for a day trip and far enough away to offer dark skies that are great for stargazing. Just 80 kilometres from the city, you’ll find the Linden Observatory which was built in the 1930s and 1940s by amateur astronomer Ken Beames.
If you’re keen on getting a look at the site’s 61-centimetre telescope, or if you want to join one of the regular beginner groups for a tour of the sky, you can make an appointment (or ask for more info) with supernova hunter Rev. Bob Evans by filling out this form.
Mudgee Observatory, Mudgee
Further afield in central west NSW, John Vetter not only founded the Mudgee Observatory but also built everything you see there. The site is located halfway between Sydney and Australia’s first Dark Sky Park (Warrumbungle National Park) and has little light pollution to ruin your starry night experience.
The facilities, which include a theatre and flat-screen planetarium, are regularly used by professional astronomers but John is super keen on sharing his 45 years of knowledge with visitors. Make a booking and he’ll not only point out nebulas and clusters but give you the low down during your personalised night-sky tour.
Mount Kuring-Gai, Hornsby
While also a great place for a spot of whale watching in the winter, Mount Kuring-Gai National Park is a Sydneysider favourite for stargazing.
For the best views of the stars, you’re going to want to find the Mount Kuring-Gai oval on the edge of the national park, plonk down a picnic blanket and get comfortable. Soon you’ll be pointing out Orion and it will be pointing out a bunch of other constellations.
Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains
The night sky is our common heritage and cultural astronomy is taking off. If you’re not so sure what that is, then join astrophysicist Dr Dimitri Douchin for a stargazing experience that will reveal distant celestial bodies in a storytelling adventure of the night sky.
All of that while you can hear Wentworth Falls cascading throughout the night.
Terrey Hills, Northern Beaches
On Saturday nights before or after the new moon, the Northern Sydney Astronomical Society takes to Forest Trail Park, Terrey Hills, for a night full of stars. If you’re a novice, then no worries because the crew have got enough telescopes to share. Unfortunately, while Covid still looms overhead, these nights are restricted to members only. However, fingers crossed we can get out there soon and look up at the stars.
Wollemi National Park, Wiruna
Secrets are hard to keep, and Wiruna is ASNSW’s premier dark sky observing site. Found between Lithgow and Mudgee, it’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney and is for members only, who tend to camp under the stars on weekend viewing parties. You can get in touch with them to find out how you can join or what it takes to go down for a night here.
In any case, Wollemi National Park has six campgrounds where you’ll be able to settle down for starry night show for the ages.
A few notable mentions when it comes to stargazing spots near Sydney include:
- Bankstown Airport
- Katoomba Airfield
- Mangrove Mountain
- Bouddi National Park
- Broken Hill