When was the last time you were able to look into the nighttime sky and see the stars? Well, now you can – travel to the coast and vacation with the stars! Escape the bright lights of city life and venture to the shorelines of Tybee Island for an amazing celestial show! As it happens, Tybee Island is a favored nesting spot for our treasured Loggerhead Sea Turtles, so we like to keep artificial light as far away from the beach as possible. Stay in one of our beachfront or waterfront properties, lounge on the porch and enjoy the nighttime sky!
Quick tips for beginner stargazers
- Choose the perfect stargazing spot: browse through our collection of beachfront properties.
- You’ll want to pick a dark location with little to no artificial light so you can easily view the open sky.
- Grab a pair of binoculars to see how many constellations you can point out
- Download an astronomy app to help navigate the skies
- Star Chart, NASA App, Night Sky, SkyView Free, ISS Detector, Sky Map, Star & Plant Finder, and so many more
Tips from a Professional Stargazer: Jamie Anderson, A photographer of Coastal Georgia Fine Art Prints
How long have you photographed the stars? I have only been photographing the stars since 2016 after I took a class and learned how to do it correctly. Before 2016 I loved night photography, but I could only do city night scenes, city lights, car trails, and experimenting with light painting is always fun. Most of my attempts to photograph stars before 2016 were failures with not very many stars captured.
What drew you to the stars?
I think star photography, in particular Milky Way photography, can be amazing when done correctly. The beauty of the clear night sky with all the stars reminds me of the heavens above. It can be quite inspiring. It’s kind of like when you go to visit the mountains and you get the feeling that you are in “God Country” because it is so beautiful. Yes, you can be in “God Country” even in the darkest of nights. Also, in 2016, this type of photography was just heating up. Although it has grown ever more popular, it is still somewhat rare. It is still one of photography’s biggest challenges to do correctly and it does require patience and missing maybe more than a few hours of sleep.
What is your favorite constellation and why?
I like Scorpio because that’s my birth sign… Scorpius. Also, Scorpio is right up there near the Milky Way.
Do you have any quick tips for beginner stargazers?
The main challenge to seeing the stars is finding a dark location. This usually means getting out of the city. Cities have too many lights to see all of the stars. The darker the location, the more stars you can see if it’s a clear night. You also need to know when to look. The moon is a bright light, so avoid full moons and look for times around the new moon. Finally, the weather and sky need to be clear so avoid nights when it is going to be cloudy. Once you find your dark location, turn out all your lights, e.g. flashlights, and let your eyes get used to the dark for about 5 minutes. Always go with a buddy and not alone.
For our more inexperienced celestial photographers, how do you take the perfect celestial shot?
Photographers need to realize that this type of photography is still a big challenge. This is not something that can be done with a cell phone or a snapshot of any kind. Capturing the stars requires long exposure photography of 10-30 seconds at minimum. So, the best advice is to take a class from an expert or someone who’s photography you truly admire and learn how to do it correctly. The equipment needed is also essential… Think Tripod for the long exposures of 10-30 seconds. Think Wide Angle Lens of 24mm or lower with Wide Apertures of f2.3 or lower. Also, Full Frame cameras, especially the newer models, have an advantage over Crop Sensor cameras with this type of photography. That being said, once you do learn how to capture it with your camera and lens, it’s the same settings each time because you’ll be photographing in a dark location each time. As far as taking the ‘Perfect’ celestial shot, it’s just a matter of getting out there and experimenting with different compositions. You try to put something interesting in the foreground, otherwise one Milky Way photograph will look the same as the last one.
What about Tybee Island do you love the most, in reference to stargazing?
Our Georgia coast is just dark enough and away from the big cities to be able to see the stars and do this type of photography. Because of the Loggerhead Sea Turtles, an ordinance was passed mandating that lights be dimmed along the coast. They discovered the turtles would not come up and build their egg nests if they saw lights on the beach. If you do go out on the beach at night, you are supposed to use a red colored light instead of a bright flashlight. Red colored lights do not seem to bother the sea turtles. You can also cover a regular flashlight with red paper or red balloon to create a red light. Although Tybee it is a developed coastal barrier island, it does have some dark areas on the beach that are easy to access.
Where is your favorite place on the island to view the stars?
One of my favorite places is the Back River Fishing Pier area. It is very dark at night there and you can see the Milky Way over Little Tybee Island.
When is the best time of year to view the stars?
I think the best time to view the stars, in particular the Milky Way, is the summer months. During these months in the northern hemisphere you can see the “Galactic Core” of the Milky Way which is the brightest part. However, if you just like viewing and identifying constellations and/or planets, then the winter months can be just as good, and the skies can be even clearer after a cold front blows through.
Do you prefer viewing the stars through a lens (binoculars or camera) or the naked eye?
I like viewing the stars in real life with the naked eye, however, I also like the results of photographing them properly. Both can be very exhilarating and awe inspiring. That is why I share my photographs on social media and also sell prints. Some people may just never get the chance to see it in real life. It is awesome and exciting to be able to see it in real life and if you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend it. “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”, Psalm 19.