In 2333, Jean-Luc Picard served as a bridge officer on this vessel. He later described the Stargazer as an "overworked, underpowered vessel, always on the verge of flying apart at the seams." (TNG: "Relics")
Starfleet Command looked so favorably on Picard's actions, that they appointed him as the vessel's new commanding officer, a post he held for twenty-two years. Picard's crew included Jack Crusher, a weapons officer named Vigo, as well as physician Moritz Benayoun. (TNG: "The Battle"; PIC: "Maps and Legends")
After making contact with a Cardassian warship, Captain Picard lowered the ship's shields as a gesture of good will, but as he later put it, "the Cardassians were not impressed." They managed to take out most of the Stargazer's weapons and damaged its impulse engines. The Stargazer managed to regroup and flee. (TNG: "The Wounded")
The Battle of Maxia
In 2355, the Stargazer was attacked and severely damaged by an unknown vessel in the Maxia Zeta system. Picard was able to destroy the attacking vessel, using what would later be named the Picard Maneuver. The Stargazer was overcome by fire and severe damage during the battle and had to be abandoned. The event was called the "Battle of Maxia" by the Ferengi. (TNG: "The Battle")
As the loss of a starship was a court martial offense, Picard was court-martialed for the loss of the Stargazer, zealously prosecuted by Phillipa Louvois. In the end, he was absolved of all charges. (TNG: "The Battle", "The Measure Of A Man")
In 2364, the wreck of the Stargazer was found adrift and salvaged by the Ferengi. The Ferengi DaiMon Bok desired revenge against Picard, as his son had died commanding the attacking vessel at the "Battle of Maxia". He falsified the logs of the Stargazer to indicate that it was the Stargazer that committed an unprovoked attack against the Ferengi vessel. Through the use of an illegal "thought maker", Bok caused Captain Picard to relive the day of the battle in hallucinations, supposedly as a mental breakdown after the real truth had come out. When the devices were discovered, William T. Riker was able to convince the captain to destroy the "thought maker" causing his hallucinations. The Stargazer was towed to Xendi Starbase 9. (TNG: "The Battle")
This incident was mentioned, as an example of Jean-Luc Picard's supposed incompetence, by Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick when questioning Deanna Troi. Remmick alleged that, according to Picard's own logs, he had suffered from a mental lapse. Although Troi protested that he had been under the control of a mind-altering machine, Remmick wasn't swayed in his opinion. (TNG: "Coming of Age")
In 2365, when speaking with Guinan about her origins, Wesley Crusher said that he had heard from some of the crew that she had met Picard when he was the commanding officer of the Stargazer. Guinan replied that she didn't know the captain until she came aboard the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "The Child")
In 2369, Picard would look back fondly on his time commanding the Stargazer and once confided to Montgomery Scott that, even after several years of commanding the far superior USS Enterprise-D, there were still times he would give almost anything to command the Stargazer again. (TNG: "Relics")
|USS Constellation • USS Hathaway • USS Stargazer • USS Victory • NCC-7100|
= Background information=
The name Stargazer first appears in notes by Gene Roddenberry in 1986, in which he writes of the captain of the new U.S.S. Enterprise, then tentatively named William T. English (but which would later become Picard), "He is excited by the adventure of human intelligence challenged by the mysteries of the stars. At the Starfleet Academy, his (affectionate) nickname was 'Stargazer.'" 
A gold-painted model of the Constellation-class NCC-7100 served as regular set dressing in the set of Captain Picard's USS Enterprise-D ready room. This model was often mistakenly assumed to be of the Stargazer. This mistake was perpetuated by the Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p. 469). As noted in other sources, however, the idea of the Stargazer was conceived after that gold model had been created, though it was eventually used to create the filming model for this ship.
The Stargazer was originally intended to be a Constitution-class vessel, the same as Captain Kirk's USS Enterprise. In fact, in the first draft script of "The Battle", the Stargazer was identified as not only being of that class but also from the "late 23rd century." The latter notion wasn't included in the episode's final draft script, which nonetheless still contained multiple references to the Stargazer as a Constitution-class ship.  Additionally, the yellow NCC-7100 model was replaced with a silver Constitution-class model in Picard's ready room for "The Battle". When the Stargazer filming model was eventually designed, it was decided that a new model, derisively referred to as the "pie dish", should be used. Since LeVar Burton had already recorded a line of dialogue identifying the ship as Constitution-class, the name of the new ship's class had to be similar to "Constitution" to make it easy to overdub; the production crew settled on "Constellation".
In 1994, Galoob produced a toy model of the Stargazer as part of their Micromachines line. The coloring on the model was completely wrong and was actually based on the coloring of the NCC-7100 model seen in Picard's office.
In a Starfleet Technical Database article (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 2) written by Rick Sternbach, it was stated that, after the Stargazer was towed back to Xendi Starbase 9, it was repaired, and returned to limited active duty for eight years (from 2366 to 2374), after which it was mothballed as a museum ship at the Copernicus Yard Museum, Luna, alongside the USS Valkyrie (NCC-2590). Kept in a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere for tours and academic study, the Stargazer was kept in a semi-operational state, to be re-activated for duty when circumstances dictated such an action.
The bridge of the Stargazer was previously seen as the battle bridge of the Enterprise-D in "Encounter at Farpoint". Before The Next Generation, the set was used as the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (Creating the Next Generation)
The model of the Stargazer was one of the props displayed at Comic Con's exhibit Jean-Luc Picard: The First Duty in the summer of 2019. It is stated in a sign that the ship was decomissioned at the end of 2364. 
The crew of the Stargazer had been featured in many novels by Michael Jan Friedman. First appearing in Pocket TNG: Reunion, a novel published by Pocket Books, it had spun off the Star Trek: Stargazer series, during which the ship had a brief encounter with the mirror universe, as well as detailing Picard's first meeting with Guinan during a confrontation with Enabran Tain. The full circumstances of the Battle of Maxia, and Picard's history between the loss of the Stargazer and becoming captain of the Enterprise-D, are covered in the novel The Buried Age.
The Stargazer was also included as a playable ship in the video game Star Trek: Legacy. During the story, it was revealed that the ship's captain, Daithan Ruhalter (β), is killed on the bridge and the ship severely damaged from a shock wave resulting from renegade Vulcan T'Uerell (β) destroying a planet in the Neutral Zone. Picard took command of the ship and attempted to stop stellar debris from destroying other planets in a Federation system. The player can control the Stargazer with Picard in command during this mission in the game.
The Stargazer-class (β) was one of the available design choices (along with the Cheyenne-class and Dakota-class (β)) for the Heavy Cruiser ship available to Federation characters at the rank of Commander. Additionally, the original Constellation-class, with a console that allows the ship to perform the Picard Manuever, can be purchased from the in-game store.