Psst! We’ve made the best list in the whole universe. We’re back in 2023 with a new guide to stargazing in Western Australia.
With help from our friends at Astrotourism WA, we’ve created a month-by-month breakdown of the ultimate events and places to discover WA’s best stars.
It’s time to venture beyond the fringe of the city lights and celebrate WA’s world-class dark night sky. Each month brings billions of stars and planets with incredible stargazing experiences around every corner.
Let’s see what’s up in 2023.
April: An Extraordinary Eclipse
Natural cosmic experiences don’t get more remarkable than a total eclipse of the sun. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth, blocking out the sun's light and casting a shadow on Earth's surface.
In 2023, Western Australians can witness a spectacular total solar eclipse on 20 April. This rare eclipse will be visible from the Exmouth area. The rest of WA will see a partial solar eclipse.
April to October is Milky Way season. The Milky Way is best seen when there’s no moonlight, and you’re away from bright city lights. This band of dusty light looks like a cloud, but billions of stars make up the Milky Way galaxy, our home in the universe.
Where can you see the Milky Way? Travel to an Astrotourism Town on a moonless night and be inspired by its beauty. From the coastal town of Cervantes to inland Northam - local communities are creating protected dark sky places across country and outback WA where the stargazing is spectacular. Check out some of the best country locations for stargazing.
May: Mars and Venus in Gemini
It’s time to observe some planets! In May, Mars and Venus are in Gemini. From 10 May, Mars will closely approach the twin stars of Castor and Pollux in the constellation of Gemini. Watch throughout the month as Mars moves away and Venus moves towards the pair. On 30 May, Venus will be in almost the same place as Mars on 10 May.
Look up to the sky in the north west direction just after sunset for one very bright star and one red star, that’s Venus and Mars. Roll out the picnic rug and set your eyes to starry Avon Valley National Park, it's one of the best places for a dreamy date night.
June: Aboriginal Astronomy
Aboriginal people were the world’s first astronomers. Tens of thousands of years of culture and heritage are reflected in WA’s night sky. The Emu in the Sky is a well-known Aboriginal Astronomical constellation outlined by dark areas of the night sky, not the stars.
To discover the emu, locate the Southern Cross constellation in mid-June. The emu’s head is the dark between the stars that make up the Southern Cross. From here, you can see its neck, body, and legs forming between the Milky Way's iconic dust lanes.
Discover more about the Aboriginal connection to the night sky and how it connects to their beliefs and culture at the Bilya Koort Boodja: Centre for Nyoongar Culture & Environmental Knowledge in Northam.
July: Planet Party!
It’s a planet party, and you’re invited. Throughout July, watch the western horizon just after sunset for a performance by the planets. Starting on 10 July, Mars will appear right next to the bright star Regulus and Venus. Watch Mars drift away from Regulus and Mercury take centre stage throughout the month. Even the moon will join in, making a close approach towards the end of July.
August: Super Blue Moon
This year, we are set to see not one, two or three but four supermoons, with the third being a super blue moon on 31 August. Where’s the best place to see the supermoon rise? Find a place where you can see the eastern horizon without buildings or trees blocking your view. If you’d like to photograph the supermoon, think about what type of landscape you’d like to capture in the foreground of your image. Our favourite place for the ultimate supermoon vantage point is the top of Reabold Hill in Floreat, Perth's highest inner metropolitan peak.
September: Spotting Scorpio
Scorpius (or Scorpio) is a large constellation that looks like its namesake. Sometimes it isn’t easy to make out the shape of constellations, but the distinct shape of Scorpius makes it reasonably easy to spot. Look for an S-shaped pattern of stars between the constellations Libra (the scales) and Sagittarius. Scorpius is visible during spring and lies overhead at around 8pm. See if you can find the curve of Scorpio’s body and the sting in its tail stretching up to the centre of the sky.
October: Orionids Meteor Shower
October = shooting star galore. The conditions are almost perfect for viewing the Orionids Meteor Shower generated from Halley’s Comet. The shower peaks on the 21 and 22 October but can be viewed several days on either side of this. The best views will be under dark country skies after midnight. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower, so it’s a great time to gather your friends, head to an Astrotourism Town, roll out your favourite picnic rug and start counting shooting stars.
November: Discover Earth’s Neighbour
If the Milky Way is our home, Andromeda is our galactic next-door neighbour. The Andromeda galaxy is 2.5 million light-years away, and experts say it’s the most distant object visible to the human eye. Head out to an Astrotourism Town on a dark, moonless weekend in November and try your luck in spotting the Andromeda galaxy.
December: Geminids Meteor Shower
In December, stargazers will be treated to a unique display from the Geminids Meteor Shower. On a dark night, away from artificial light pollution, you might see up to 120 meteors (or shooting stars) an hour! The Geminids meteor shower is one of the most active and best meteor showers.
The best time to see Geminids Meteor Shower is midnight until early morning on 13 and 14 December. Still, it is active for a few weeks. Most meteors will be faint, so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. If you’re an astrophotographer, this is an excellent opportunity to capture meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes.
Get the most out of your stargazing experience with our guide to Stargazing In Perth. It’s full of bright tours and astronomy hotspots that offer stargazing experiences that are literally out of this world.