The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will appear closer in Earth’s night sky on December 21 to form what some are calling a “Christmas Star.” This rare occurrence was last recorded roughly 800 years ago, as stargazers will look southwest one hour after sunset for the best views. We’ve put together a few of our favorite spots in Northeast Tennessee to view the skies (any time of the year) without the crowd.
Johnson City: Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park
Popular during the day with mountain biking enthusiasts, Tannery Knobs also is a great place to catch a sunset or view the night sky with Buffalo Mountain in the background.
Downtown Bristol TN/VA
Not much for hiking, and want to view the star from the warmth of your car or after a walk? Downtown Bristol makes the perfect backdrop.
Erwin: Beauty Spot
A drive on the backroads through Erwin and Cherokee National Forest service roads will lead you to the iconic Beauty Spot, with sky views a short walk from your car.
Kingsport: Centennial Park
Grab dinner to-go and set up downtown at Kingsport’s Centennial Park for sky views inside or outside of your car.
Greeneville: Viking Mountain
Be prepared to drive on an access road up the mountain for this view. Joining the Appalachian Trail, the Viking Mountain overlook showcases the best views over the Greeneville area.
All decked out for the holidays, you can’t help but to get in the spirit in Downtown Jonesborough. The perfect spot to view the skies is in the parking lot across from Tennessee Hills Distillery.
Mountain City: Ralph Stout Park
View the open skies from your vehicle at Ralph Stout Park, a public access area located near Mountain City.
Roan Mountain: Carvers Gap
Just steps onto the Appalachian Trail, you’ll find one of Northeast Tennessee’s most famous viewpoints. Carvers Gap exhibits panoramic views of Tennessee and North Carolina.
Rogersville: City Park
Another public park that is easily accessible from your vehicle, Rogersville City Park is also decked out for the holidays with tree and light displays.
Tri-Cities Airport Observation Deck
Popular with all ages, observation decks at airports are often hard to find. Tri-Cities Airport maintains a large open-air deck on the second level mezzanine that’s perfect for viewing planes and the sky.
Depending on where you live, your own backyard may prove to be the best viewing point for the star. This will make a great opportunity to build a campfire, roast marshmallows, and social distance.