One of the best parts about staying at the Pigeon River Campground is camping under the stars! Since our campground is near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the border of Cherokee National Forest, there is no light pollution to spoil your view of the night sky! This makes our campground the perfect place to spot some fascinating constellations! Here are 5 constellations that are easy to find while stargazing at our Smoky Mountain campground:
1. The Big Dipper
One of the easiest constellations to find at our Smoky Mountain campground is the Big Dipper! While it is not technically a constellation on its own, it is part of a constellation known as Ursa Major or the Great Bear. The Big Dipper is easiest to find during the summer months in the northernmost part of the sky, so keep a good lookout during your evening campfire! Once you have spotted the cup and long handle of the Big Dipper, you can see the handle is actually the head and neck of the Great Bear. You can also see the cup is part of the bear’s chest and observe the bear’s front legs extend from the cup’s bottom corner.
2. Little Dipper
Once you have located the Big Dipper in the night sky, it is easy to spot the Little Dipper and its constellation known as Ursa Minor or Little Bear. If you start by looking at the 2 stars that form the right side of the cup and follow a straight line north, you will see the North Star shining brightly in the sky! The North Star, or Polaris, is the star at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. The handle is actually considered the Little Bear’s tail, while the cup forms part of the bear’s side.
Another constellation easy to spot while stargazing at our Smoky Mountain campground is Orion, which is also known as The Hunter! You can start by searching for the 3 bright stars that form a straight line from the hunter’s belt. At that point, you can make out the bright star known as Betelgeuse that forms the hunter’s armpit. If you follow Betelgeuse east along the hunter’s arm, you can see that he is holding a bow! Other stars complete the rectangle of the hunter’s upper body and sharp eyes can make out the hunter’s sword hanging from his belt.
Once you have found Orion, it makes it easy to locate the constellation of Gemini or The Twins. If you look above and to the side of the hunter’s upraised arm, you will notice that this constellation resembles 2 stick figure twins with outstretched arms that touch. If you start by finding the 2 bright stars that form the heads of the twins, it should be relatively easy to trace the rest of the pattern. Each of the twins have torsos, arms and legs, and the twin on the left appears to be lifting a leg and dancing!
Taurus, or The Bull, is also fairly simple to find one you have located Orion. If you look above Orion, you can identify the large red star known as Aldebaran. This star is located near the fork of the bull’s horns, while the bottom horn is home to the Crab Nebula. Meanwhile, the star cluster above the bull is known as the Pleiades. If you bring a telescope or binoculars along with you, you can enjoy an even better view of these star clusters!
Check out all of the information about our Smoky Mountain campground today to plan your camping adventure under the stars! We look forward to your stay at the Pigeon River Campground!