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How to See Stars In the Sky Close to DC

Photograph via iStock.

Our expert: Joseph Novotka, electrical engineer on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and president of the NASA Goddard Astronomy Club.

“The best place to go is near a large lake or along the Potomac. You don’t see light pollution from there. The further north you go up the Potomac [away from the city], the better it gets.

“Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg is a pretty good place—there’s a lake there. Out in Poolesville by the river, you’d probably get a good view. The viewing on the outskirts of Frederick is very good, and on a clear night you could even see the Milky Way.

“The higher up you are, the less atmosphere you have to look through. Even if it’s only a couple hundred feet, you’re doing yourself a great justice in trying to get higher.

“In March, there’s the opposition of Jupiter, which is when Jupiter is closest to Earth. On March 8 at midnight, you can see it with the naked eye.With binoculars, you can even see its moons.”

Read more advice, tips, and tricks from Washington natives in our Secrets of the City package.

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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