April 22-30 is International Dark Sky Week, an annual celebration of the world’s remaining dark skies that was created by the dark sky movement. The dark sky movement consists of advocates, scientists and other concerned humans who organize to preserve existing dark, starry, night skies that are disappearing due to light pollution. Locally, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Utah Chapter is hosting many events that honor our state’s phenomenal night skies.
“Utah has the darkest skies in the United States,” said Paul Ricketts, director of the U’s South Physics Observatory, who will lead several of the planned sessions.
Utah is famous for its tracks of land with little to no development. The respite from artificial light at night has made the state a world-class destination for stargazers, astronomers and those who wish to experience the night the way that their ancestors did. While southern Utah draws in the majority of star tourists, there are still plenty of places to see the Milky Way galaxy near the U’s campus.
“The U and Utah State Parks have been working hard the last few years to help keep our night sky visible for everybody to enjoy,” said Ricketts. “There are lots of places along the Wasatch back that are dark enough to see galaxies and nebula in a telescope, for people who can’t drive down to southern Utah.
Places like Rockport, Gooseneck, Jordanelle and East Canyon Creek State Park are some of the newest dark sky places less than an hour from the U campus. Check out the IDA Utah Chapter’s full list of events, including the following that are hosted by U affiliated faculty.
Dark Sky Week Events
RESCHEDULED DUE TO WEATHER: Saturday, May 7 | 3-11 p.m.
East Canyon State Park
Kick off International Dark Sky Week at East Canyon State Park, hosted by Paul Ricketts and the folks from the U’s South Physics Observatory who will co-host this fun-filled day of activities for the whole family (weather permitting). Reduced park entrance fees available: contact the park for details at (801) 829-6866. More details here.
Solar viewing | 3 p.m.
Safely gaze at our sun through special solar telescopes while you learn all about the wonderful star that keeps us alive!
Telescope workshop | 5 p.m.
Interested in buying your own telescope or learning how to use one? Then our Telescope Workshop is for you!
Dark sky program | 8 p.m.
Did you know that over 2/3rds of the world’s population cannot see the Milky Way from where they live? Attend our dark sky program to discover what light pollution is and how you can mitigate it.
Astrophotography workshop | 8:30 p.m.
Have you ever wanted to learn to take stunning night sky and Milky Way photos… even with your phone? Attend our astrophotography course to learn how!
Star party | 9 p.m.
As darkness falls, enjoy the beautiful dark skies at this International Dark Sky Park! View galaxies, planets, nebulae, and other celestial objects at our star party!
Sunday, April 24 | 8:30 p.m.
Virtual Star Party
Utah State Parks is partnering with the U to hold this virtual dark sky event using the massive telescope in the Willard L. Eccles Observatory, located in San Francisco Mountains outside of Milford, UT, one of the darkest places in the U.S. Peer through the 32-inch telescope remotely to zoom around the universe and capture images of deep-space objects like galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae.
Click here to join.
Wednesday, April 27 | 7-10 p.m.
Star Party at the South Physics Observatory
Join in the public star party at the U’s observatory where you can view planets, stars, galaxies, nebula, and other astronomical objects. Students from the Dark Sky Studies undergraduate minor, mentored by Professor Daniel Mendoza and astronomy associate professor Anil Seth, will do a dark sky presentation at 7 p.m.