The 5 best places to stargaze in Birmingham + info on the upcoming solar eclipse

trees under blue sky and stars during nighttime photo
See the best spots for stars around Birmingham. Photo via Wil Stewart

For a lot of people the warm nights of summer mean stargazing. With a partial solar eclipse coming up this week, it’s good to have your stargazing spots already planned out.

An eclipse?

moon eclipse
This week’s partial solar eclipse won’t be quite this stunning, but still something to look for if you’re in the right place. Photo via Jongsun Lee

This Thursday, June 10, the sky will put on a show for some parts of the world with a partial eclipse, also known as a “ring of fire” eclipse.

To catch everyone up to speed, a solar eclipse is when the moon partially or fully blocks out the sun. This June 10, there will be a partial solar eclipse, so only part of the sun will be blocked out.

To see the partial eclipse in all its glory, Canada is the place to be this week. The rest of the Americas will not be able to see the eclipse except for a brief moment at sunrise. According to Space, “for those living to the south and west of a line running roughly from Edmonton, Alberta, to Des Moines, Iowa, down through Savannah, Georgia, the eclipse will end before sunrise, so most of the southern and western United States will miss out on seeing the solar show.”

Although Birmingham won’t get a good view of the eclipse, we still have a great view of the stars from here. If you need tips on how to get started, we’ve go you covered there too.

1. Vulcan Park

Birmingham, Vulcan Park and Museum , Driver's Way, Vulcan statue
View of Birmingham from the top of Vulcan. Photo via Vulcan Park and Museum

Hands down, Vulcan Park has one of the best views of Birmingham in the entire area. Perched atop Red Mountain, Vulcan Park is the place to go in the city for views that will take your breath away. With the park closing around 10PM each night, you’ll have a couple of hours to see the stars glitter out over the Birmingham skyline. Since it’s on top of a mountain, even with the city lights below, the stars are just as bright overhead.

2. Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park
Dusk at Oak Mountain is something to behold. Photo via Oak Mountain State Park’s Facebook

For day visitors, Oak Mountain State Park closes at 7PM which makes stargazing a little difficult. But for campers who stay in the park overnight (with a permit), the sky’s the limit on incredible stargazing views. Farther out from the lights of Birmingham, the sky is crystal clear at the park as you watch the stars twinkly overhead.

3. Cahaba River Park

cahaba river park trail
In between the trees, the stars are bright at night. Photo by Claire Hancock for Bham Now

Cahaba River Park is a serene spot for stargazing at night. My personal suggestion is to roll down River Road once dusk settles and pull off near the park entrance to see millions of celestial bodies above your head. Since the park isn’t close to any city centers, there’s not a lot of interference from other lights, giving you a stunning view.

  • Location: 2793 River Road, Helena, AL 35080
  • Website

4. Christenberry Planetarium

Christenberry Planetarium samford
Photo via Christenberry Planetarium’s Facebook

So the first three items on this list are geared towards casual stargazers like myself, who like to go sit outside for a while craning their necks to watch the twinkle of lights millions of light years away.

For the more serious stargazer, Samford University’s Christenberry Planetarium is the place to go to get a perfectly unencumbered view of the night sky. Plus, visitors can experience space in new ways with educational programming at the planetarium.

5. James Wylie Shepherd Observatory

worm's eye view of trees during night time
Get a better view of the stars and learn more about what you’re seeing at Montevallo’s observatory. Photo via Ryan Hutton

Another nearby observatory for sky watchers (or anyone interested in getting more details about the space rocks swirling above our heads), Montevallo’s James Wylie Shepherd Observatory is prime stargazing real estate. Located three miles out from Montevallo’s campus to avoid city light interference, the observatory uses a 20-inch PlaneWave CDK20 telescope on a Chronos HD32 Harmonic Mount that sits atop a Pier-Tech hydraulic pier in a fully robotic 20.5-foot diameter observatory dome.

In their words, “Sound impressive? Trust us—it is.”

Want to learn more about what you’re looking at when you look up? This article from Space is a great resource for all the night sky events happening this month that you can observe. You can also check out the Birmingham Astronomical Society for more info on astronomy and to get involved in their “Star Parties.”

Sign up for Bham Now’s newsletter to get guides, stories, and breaking news delivered to your inbox every day.

Claire Hancock
Claire Hancock
Articles: 96