The Perseids meteor shower peaks this week, but there’s never a bad time to spread out a blanket and gaze into the starry heavens. Dr. Paul Lewis of UT’s astronomy department identified five great places to stargaze.
1. Pickett State Park
It’s a bit of a drive from Knoxville, but Pickett State Park in Fentress County is designated as an International Dark Sky Park. Lewis said there’s an open field at the back of the campground where headlights don’t intrude.
2. Big South Fork, main visitors center parking lot
Lewis said when park rangers turn off the lights in the parking area it’s a great place to stargaze. They generally have star events April through October, though their schedule is likely different this year.
3. Big Ridge State Park
Lewis suggested driving through the park’s campground and turning left into a parking area. Beside it is a field.
4. Norris Dam State Park
Lewis said the parking lot by the park’s swimming pool is a good place to look up.
5. Cades Cove
The open spaces in Cades Cove provide great stargazing. Though he’s not been there himself, Lewis hears Max Patch is also a great spot.