Southwest Missouri has a lot of wide open spaces. There are small towns in between Springfield and Joplin along Interstate 44 that are small enough to avoid light pollution for stargazing. When the weather gets warmer, it's a perfect time to get out at night and see some beautiful stars.
Baker Observatory is utilized by Missouri State University students for astronomy research. The grounds are located 10 miles northwest of Marshfield. There may be some light pollution to the south from Springfield, but otherwise the night sky is immense. When the observatory has open houses, make sure to glimpse the moons of Jupiter and rings of Saturn with some telescopes.
Roaring River State Park
Roaring River State Park is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. year-round outside of Cassville, Mo. Patrons can camp overnight, but there are plenty of spots to simply sit and watch the stars for hours after sunset. The park is located near the Arkansas border and offers plenty of access to see the sky from horizon to horizon.
Bennett Spring State Park
Bennett Spring State Park is outside Lebanon, Mo. If patrons aren't camping, the grounds close one hour past sunset. The beauty of the area has hills, streams and lush forests among some open fields perfect for stargazing. A hillside overlooking the grounds is perfect to see the stars come up in the east.
Lake Pomme de Terre
Lake Pomme de Terre is located north of Bolivar in Polk County. Any of the open park spaces in the massive lake affords beautiful views. Even better is taking a boat out on the lake at night. There is little light pollution as Springfield is around 40 miles away.
Phenix Acces is close enough to Springfield yet far enough away to offer a full view of the stars. The small area is three miles north of Ash Grove and has mostly old crop lands and fields. Get ready for deer and nighttime wildlife in addition to stargazing. I've seen a few great comets from Phenix Access, part of an old quarry that used to exist in the area.
- Nature & Environment
- Roaring River State Park
- light pollution