Far from man-made light pollution, the inky skies over Acadia display a staggering number of stars. The best viewing conditions begin an hour or two after sunset. Choose a clear, moonless night and spread out a blanket on Sand Beach, the Park’s only sandy swath. (If the moon is full, the stars won’t twinkle as brightly, but the sight of moonlight dancing on the waves is a treat.)
To avoid a crick in your neck—and a possible feeling of vertigo—it’s a good idea to lie down. Gaze up at the Milky Way, and you may feel you’re floating. Get your bearings by locating the North Star and the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations. Then see if you can identify Cassiopeia and the Summer Triangle. In July and August, you might also see the Perseid meteor showers. Try to count the shooting stars and look out for the International Space Station zooming by.
To get the most from the experience, and to learn the mythological stories behind the constellations, sign up for an hour-long ranger program offered in the summer. (Avoid disappointment: Check online to see if you can reserve your spot a few days in advance.) Other prime stargazing spots in the park include Seawall Picnic Area, the lawn at Jordan Pond House, and the top of Cadillac Mountain. Remember to bundle up; it can be quite chilly at night.
For safety in the dark, carry a flashlight with a red-light option or a smart phone with a red-light app, because white light can temporarily hinder night vision. Bring binoculars or a small telescope, too. And don’t forget the bug spray—the stars aren’t the only things that come out at night.