Darkest Sky near Rochester to view Milky Way Perdeids

The Darkest Sky Near Rochester

The best chance we have to find the darkest sky near Rochester is to head as far away from the city as possible without moving closer to another city. Sounds logical, though not easy to achieve without a good deal of planning. If you want to get to the best possible location, head away from Monroe County. Make your next day trip a night trip! We used data to determine the darkest destinations from which to observe the Universe.

Darkest Sky near Rochester legend
The New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness

Pick a location that falls in the green-to-dark-blue category, detailed in the legend above from The New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness by Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Destinations northeast of Rochester close to Lake Ontario or south of US-20 in the Finger Lakes will offer the darkest possible options to view meteor showers, stars, planets, and the Milky Way. Specifically, though, if you head close the locations below—one for each county—you’ll be under the darkest skies possible around Rochester.

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Perseids star map
The Perseids courtesy of Sky and Telescope

Each August you can see the Perseid Meteor Shower just looking up, though the meteors will seem to originate from a place just beneath Cassiopeia which will be east of Rochester. It’s easier to find the ‘W’ shaped constellation than Perseus, for which the shower is named. The best time to be out there is a few hours after  sundown.

In addition, late summer is prime time for viewing the Milky Way! Pack a lounge chair, bug repellent, and a blanket a spend a few hours gazing into the cosmos. A red flashlight can help you see, but not ruin your night vision like white light. It takes about 20 minutes to adjust our eyes to the dark, but just a few seconds of white light can ruin that.

These photographers thrive on finding the darkest sky near Rochester!

Hemlock Lake

A post shared by Claire Talbot (@mctmama) on

A post shared by Eric Gioe (@egioe_photo) on


Chimney Bluffs

Keuka Lake

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Allegany State Park

Darkest Sky near Rochester-Dark Sky Scale
This scale is called the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, first published in Sky and Telescope magazine.

Find the darkest sky near Rochester!

If you’d like to go these locations specifically, make sure to contact them first to determine what permissions may be required, or whether gates close…you may need to spend the night camping. State Parks often host official “Star-Gazing” nights with experts.

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Montezuma Audubon Center
Center Circle: Montezuma Audubon Center

1. Montezuma Audubon Center (Wayne County)

The Audubon Center is located in Savannah, just north of the thruway, and its waterways are interconnected with Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Hemlock Lake Park
Center Circle: Hemlock Lake Park

2. Hemlock Lake Park (Livingston County)

This is where many night-sky photographers head to capture the Milky Way, looking south.

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Letchworth State Park
Center Circle: Letchworth State Park

3. Letchworth State Park (Wyoming County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Lakeside Beach State Park
Center Circle: Lakeside Beach State Park

4. Lakeside Beach State Park (Orleans County)

44 New York State Parks
Within a 2-Hour Drive

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Canaseraga State Forest
Center Circle: Canaseraga State Forest

5. Canasaraga State Forest (Steuben County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Keuka Lake State Park
Center Circle: Keuka Lake State Park

6. Keuka Lake State Park (Yates County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Gannett Hill Park
Center Circle: Ontario Count Park at Gannett Hill

7. Gannett Hill (Ontario County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Finger Lakes National Forest
Center Circle: Finger Lakes National Forest

8. Finger Lakes National Forest (Seneca County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Golden Hill State Park
Center Circle: Golden Hill State Park

9. Golden Hill State Park (Niagara County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Hanging Bog Game Management Area
Center Circle: Hanging Bog Game Management Area

10. Hanging Bog Game Management Area (Allegany County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Fair Haven State Park
Center Circle: Fair Haven State Park

11. Fair Haven Beach State Park (Cayuga County)

Darkest Sky Near Rochester - Allegany State Park
Center Circle: Allegany State Park

11. Allegany State Park (Cattaraugus County)

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