The Grand Canyon Is Celebrating Its New 'Dark Sky' Status With a Weeklong Party
Grand Canyon National Park is hosting a weeklong “party of the century” this month to celebrate its centennial and official acceptance onto the list of International Dark Sky Parks.
The weeklong “Grand Canyon Centennial Star Party,” from June 22–29, will welcome visitors with a plethora of telescopes set up along the canyon rim and guidance from local astronomy clubs.
Visitors will be able to take advantage of the park’s new nighttime lighting (completed last month) that helped it reach final qualifications to be designated as a “dark sky” park. The park is now officially recognized as “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights.”
Amateur astronomers from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix will set up their telescopes along the canyon’s north and south rims and help visitors spot breath-taking celestial bodies. The summertime sky is expected to provide views of Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Mars, double stars, star clusters, nebulae, distant galaxies and the moon. Photographers and astronomers will screen slideshows in the evening to help orient visitors with the sky.
Daytime guests during this week should stop by the visitor center to see what special events are happening that day. From June 23 through 28, the park will host a Centennial Summerfest Film Festival, screening films about the national park and those who live and work in the Colorado Plateau area. The grand finale is the Centennial Summerfest on June 29 where visitors can eat, drink local brews and watch cultural demonstrations by tribes native to the canyon area. The weeklong event also includes talks by professional astronomers, photographers and historians where visitors can learn about what they’re seeing in the night sky.
Celebrations kick off on June 22 at 10 a.m. with a ceremony at Mather Point Amphitheater, featuring remarks from leaders of Grand Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon Conservancy and the International Dark Sky Association.
For more information on the park’s centennial events, visit the Grand Canyon National Park website.