Padre Island National Seashore is a national seashore located on Padre Island off the coast of South Texas. In contrast to South Padre Island, known for its beaches and vacationing college students, Padre Island National Seashore is located on North Padre Island and consists of a long beach where nature is preserved. This area is said to be “the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.” It separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons on Earth. The park protects 70 miles (113 km) of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats, all teeming with life. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and a haven for 380 bird species. It also has a rich history, including the Spanish shipwrecks of 1554. At the Padre Island National Seashore’s South Beach – 5 miles (8 km) south of the Malaquite Visitor Center – there is minimal light interference. There also is the North End Observatory near the Malaquite Visitor Center parking lot, an area designated for stargazing. An EarthSky friend wrote, “Just a short drive from Corpus Christi, there is a beach access well away from all the city lights. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way. Quite amazing!”
Chelynne Campion is a Production/ Sales Assistant for EarthSky. Her family just purchased a telescope, and she's now learning to be a stargazer!