The moon through trees.

The moon through trees. Credit: Morguefile

A hike or a tour takes on a whole different dimension when you add in moonlight and stars. Several venues organize after-dark programs during the summer months, giving folks a chance to get outdoors -- with a twist. Here are three upcoming events to do after dark across Long Island.


1. Nighttime hike


WHEN | WHERE 7:30-9 p.m. July 8, Suffolk County Environmental Center, 550 South Bay Ave., Islip. Reservations recommended.

INFO 631-581-6908,

COST $8 (free younger than 2)

The Seatuck Environmental Association staffers host family-friendly evening adventures designed to bring hikers closer to wildlife -- including bats.

"People have a fear of walking in the woods at night," says Peter Walsh, Seatuck's education director. "People usually start off apprehensive and then get excited and really into what we're seeing."

For this hike, Walsh says he'll use a bat detector to track the location of the animals as they feed on insects. The group may also see owls, foxes or raccoons.

Such after-dark encounters appeal to Arthur Kopelman, of West Sayville. "It forces you to use your senses that you usually take for granted, like all the sounds you hear that you might have ignored in the daylight," says Kopelman, president of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island.

ALSO TRY Seatuck will also host a one-hour "Family Senses Night Hike" 8:30 p.m. July 16 that will cover how owls, foxes and other animals use their senses to find food and navigate in the wilderness after dark.


2. Story time -- under the stars


WHEN | WHERE 6 p.m. Sunday and July 17, Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport. Reservations recommended.

INFO 631-854-5579,


It's a different kind of bedtime story, one told with (literally) out-of-this-world visuals. Kids can dress in their pajamas and bring pillows and blankies for the evening show in the planetarium.

"We show them things like the Milky Way, constellations, things they can't see from their houses," says Lorraine Vernola, Vanderbilt's director of public programming. "You should hear the gasps."

Following the sky views, there are themed story readings and sing-alongs.


3. Full moon paddle


WHEN | WHERE 7:30-9:30 p.m. July 15, Aug. 13, 89 Peconic Ave., Riverhead.

INFO 631-727-9895,

COST $25 (includes gear)

If the thought of floating along the water in the reflection of the moonlight sounds appealing, consider a nighttime paddle in the Peconic Bay near Riverhead.

"We go to Iron Point Beach, which is about 11 / 2 miles into Peconic Bay," says Peconic Paddler owner and trip organizer Jim Dreeben.

Russ Tillman, 70, of Mattituck, is a regular who says he prefers the calm, quiet nature of the moonlight paddle. "Most of us are used to being out in the daytime with all the motorboat traffic," says Tillman. "This is much more tranquil."

The trip fee includes your craft, life preserver and paddle. You're encouraged to bring food, bug repellent and a light source.

Says Dreeben, "I usually hang glow sticks from my kayak and wear one of those clip-on lights like the miners wear."