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Star Party Set for June 27 at Great Basin National Park


The clear skies over Great Basin National Park are pretty perfect for star parties. NPS photo by Dan Duriscoe.

Let's see, let's see, where's a good place to gaze at stars in the National Park System?

Natural Bridges National Monument? Check. Bryce Canyon National Park? Check. Grand Canyons National Park? Check. Great Basin National Park? Add it to the list.

In fact, if you show up at Great Basin on June 27th you'll be able to attend a star party being thrown by the [url=]National Parks Conservation Association.

[/url] Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon have long-running star parties each summer, and Natural Bridges was the first unit of the National Park System to be honored for its wonderfully dark night skies.

Great Basin? Off the proverbial radar. Until now.

At 8 p.m. on June 27 the star party will begin at Great Basin's visitor center. There's no charge to join astronomers for a free tour of stars, planets and galaxies under some of the darkest and cleanest skies in the country, either. NPCA says it will provide the telescopes and guides to help you find great views of worlds outside our own.

Of course, you might want to be sure to dress warmly. While it is June, it's still the West, and when the sun goes down so does the temperature. If you arrive early enough, you might also be able to snag one of the park's campsites. If you're late, you might have to head to Ely after the show for a warm bed.

The event is sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association with assistance from the staff of Great Basin National Park and the several regional astronomy organizations including Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City and the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.

If you have any questions, call Lynn Davis at 702-318-6524 or the park at 775-234-7331. Or you could surf over to this site.


National Parks are ideal places to enjoy a pristine view of a dark and starry night. All of the parks listed above offer virtually pristine views the night, but elsewhere, it becomes increasingly difficult to escape the distant effects of artifical light pollution.

Light pollution is a major problem for urban parks. However, distant domes of light pollution from growing urban and suburban development has become more than evident along the western horizon from the top of Glacier Point in Yosemite, from Horse Pasture Plateau in Zion, from Panorama Point in Arches, and looking to the north from Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains. Digital cameras used at night in Death Valley can pick up domes of light pollution from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

A view of a pristine night sky has been an experience that extended across all human cultures prior to the past century. Fortunately, through intelligent light planning and effective community lighting ordinances, light pollution can be substantially reduced and the pristine beauty of the night sky restored.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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