It is a colorful night sky photo of the Great Nebula of Orion.
This is the Great Nebula of Orion taken in mid-January 2023 by amateur astro-photograher, Terry Hartman. The photo was taken from within the "Night Sky Observatory (see photos below) on the north side of the Malaquite Visitor Center.

NPS Photo credit and permission by Terry Hartman

Under a blue sky is one side of an eight-foot-tall wood fence-like structure with a wheelchair ramp and a brown Night Sky Observatory sign
The Night-Sky Observatory (shown during daylight) was constructed to provide a space which blocks the wind and sand, allowing visitors on any night to view the night sky with minor interference.

NPS Photo credit and permission by Terry Hartman

Where to Stargaze in the Park

The Night Sky Observatory is a great location for stargazing. The fence-looking structure on the north side of the Malaquite Visitor Center parking lot was designed to block most of the wind and provide a darker setting for looking up into the night sky and take photos. When driving into the parking lot, be mindful of where your headlights are shining. Park with your headlights facing the visitor center and turn them off after parking.

Along the beach, there are areas where artificial light is limited. Darkness prevails further south on the gulf-side beach.

Around Malaquite Campground, the boardwalk which leads out to the beach and in the amphitheater there are benches and areas to sit or lie down, making it easier to look up at the stars.

A camera for astro photography programmed to see red stars only is aimed upwards, nine stars are visible, and the surrounding fence is lighted red.  where are
The wooden structure lit in red is the interior of the Night Sky Observatory.

NPS Photo credit and permission by Terry Hartman

Tips for Stargazing in the Park

  • Allow your eyes 20 minutes to adjust. You may be surprised how well you can see by star and moonlight.

  • A red light is best for night vision. If you do not have a flashlight with a red option, cover your flashlight with red cellophane or a red filter. Small flashlights work better than large ones. Red lights allow you to navigate the walk from the parking lot to the Night Sky Observatory in the dark without disturbing anyone's night vision.

  • You don’t need a telescope. While a telescope can be a great tool to see smaller night sky objects, they aren’t always necessary. Many planets and constellations can be seen with the naked eye. For an extra boost, try using a pair of binoculars, along with a stargazing map or app.

Light spectrum Mosaic of observed light measured at Big Shell beach
Protect the Night

Night views are critical park features protected by the National Park Service (NPS). Learn more about exploring the night sky.

Junior Ranger patch has blue background with a bear outline and stars showing the Big Dipper
Junior Ranger Night Explorer

The NPS has a Junior Ranger Night Explorer program, encouraging young visitors to explore the starry side of their national parks.


Night Vision and More

Loading results...

    Can you Spot the Station?

    The International Space Station can often be seen passing overhead by the watchful stargazer. To the naked eye the station usually looks like a bright white dot moving very quickly as it passes without changing direction. It is often the brightest object in the night sky second only to the moon. The tracker below will help you determine when the station is passing over the park.

    Last updated: February 4, 2024

    Park footer

    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    P.O. Box 181300
    Corpus Christi, TX 78480


    (361) 949-8068
    Malaquite Visitor Center information line.

    Contact Us