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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.

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

Make your next day trip a night trip!

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.

We used their data to determine the darkest destinations around Rochester from which to observe the Universe.

Destinations northeast of the City of Rochester close to Lake Ontario and south of US-20 in the Finger Lakes region will offer the darkest possible options to view meteor showers, stars, planets, and the Milky Way.

Specifically, if you head close to the locations below—one for each county—you’ll be under the darkest sky near Rochester.

The Sky This Week

It may have been some time since you’ve visited Rochester’s extraordinary Strasenburgh Plaentarium. And with the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s uncurtain when we may be able to sit under their dome again.

In the meantime, The Rochester Museum & Science Center has developed their “The Sky This Week” program into a virtual planetarium, narrated by Planetarium Director, Steve, to give you a tour of the sky so you can discover what stars, planets, and other celestial bodies are in view each week.

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

Perseid Meteor Shower

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

Letchworth

Chimney Bluffs

Allegany State Park

Find the darkest sky
near Rochester

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

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

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 County 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

Golden Hill State Park
Center Circle: Golden Hill State Park

9. Golden Hill State Park

Niagara County

Hanging Bog Game Management Area
Center Circle: Hanging Bog Game Management Area

10. Hanging Bog Game Management Area

Allegany County

Fair Haven State Park
Center Circle: Fair Haven State Park

11. Fair Haven Beach State Park

Cayuga County

Allegany State Park
Center Circle: Allegany State Park

12. Allegany State Park

Cattaraugus County

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Where is your favorite spot go sit under the darkest sky near Rochester?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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COVID-19 NOTE: Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home.

The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly and locally—seek solitude!