Head Up to the Grand Canyon and Check Out Some Stars

Photo by Aaron Lavinsky

The 22nd Annual Grand Canyon Star Party will be held from Saturday, June 16 through Saturday, June 23, 2012 on both the South and North Rims of the park. This event is sponsored by the National Park Service, the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (South Rim), and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix (North Rim), with funding from Canyon Association.

Amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their telescopes and their expertise. National parks are protective harbors for some of the last remaining dark skies in this country. During the Grand Canyon Star Party, numerous telescopes will be pointed at planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies at night, and the sun by day, weather permitting. There will also be special slide programs each evening.

South Rim: The nightly slide show will begin at 8:10 p.m. in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center theatre and will be followed by free telescope viewing behind the building. Parking is available in lots 1 through 4, or visitors may take the free Village Route shuttle bus, which runs until 11 p.m. To guarantee a seat at the slide show, arrive early. Visitors may arrive at the telescopes any time after dark, but the best views are after 9 p.m., when the sky is darkest. On a clear night, telescope viewing continues well into the night. Visitors to the South Rim Star Party will need a flashlight for the walk to the viewing area, but are asked to keep flashlights pointed down to protect everyone’s night vision. A red flashlight is best, and can be made by covering any flashlight with red cellophane, nail polish, or magic marker.

North Rim: Telescopes will be set up on the porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge every evening. Check the Visitor Center and park bulletin boards for additional information regarding daytime and evening programs and viewing opportunities.

Nighttime temperatures on both rims can be quite cool, even in summer. Those attending the star parties are encouraged to bring warm layers of clothing.

For additional information on either of these events, check out the park’s Website.

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