GRAND CANYON, Ariz. —The 28th annual Grand Canyon Star Party will be held June 9-16 on the South and North Rims of Grand Canyon National Park.
National parks such as Grand Canyon are protective havens for some of the last remaining dark skies in this country. Two years ago, Grand Canyon National Park announced that it received Provisional International Dark Sky Park status through the International Dark-Sky Association. This provisional status gives the park three years to retrofit two-thirds of the lights in the park to be night-sky friendly. This year, we celebrate our continuing efforts to preserve this precious dark sky sanctuary while counting down both to Grand Canyon National Park’s 100th birthday and full International Dark Sky Park status in 2019.
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 Grand Canyon Association and in partnership with the International Dark-Sky Association. Amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their telescopes and expertise for the enjoyment of park visitors. Numerous telescopes will offer views of planets Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars, as well as double stars, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies-and the Moon, later in the week. By day, keep an eye out for solar telescopes pointed at the sun. Weather permitting, expect spectacular views of the universe.
On the South Rim, events include a nightly slide show at 8 p.m. in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center theater, followed by free telescope viewing behind the building. Green-laser Constellation Tours will be offered at 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m. Parking is available in Lots 1 through 4 (Lot 4 is accessible), or arrive by the free, accessible Village Route shuttle bus, which runs until 11 p.m. To guarantee a seat at the slide show, arrive early; doors open at 7:40 p.m. and the theater has limited capacity. Telescope viewing is best after 9 pm and continues well into the night; visitors may arrive any time after dark. A flashlight is recommended for the walk to the viewing area, but white lights are not permitted on the Telescope Lot. Give your eyes time to dark-adapt, or use a red flashlight, easily made by covering any flashlight with red cellophane, nail polish, or permanent marker.
On the North Rim, telescopes will be set up on the terrace of the Grand Canyon Lodge every evening. Astronomers will also use green lasers to point out constellations. An astronomy slide show will be presented at 8 p.m. nightly in the lodge auditorium. By day, look for solar telescopes on the terrace and elsewhere. Check the Visitor Center and park bulletin boards for program topics and additional details.
Nighttime temperatures on both rims can be quite cool, even in summer. Those attending the star party are encouraged to bring warm layers of clothing. When traveling in the park on the South Rim, it is best to find a parking space and use the free shuttle bus system to access points of interest in the Grand Canyon Village area. Visitors should also be aware of ongoing road construction projects in the park. All services and facilities are open and accessible but, visitors should add a few minutes to their driving time and follow detour signs, flaggers, and temporary stop lights.
Information provided by NPS.