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It's Star Party time at the Grand Canyon

It's Star Party time at the Grand Canyon
It's Star Party time at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon's 24th Annual Star Party will be held on both South and North Rims from June 21-28, 2014. For eight days, park visitors will explore the wonders of the night sky on Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and on the North Rim with the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix.

Amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their expertise and offer free nightly astronomy programs and free telescope viewing.

Visitors have the chance to view the planet Saturn along with a wide assortment of star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae by night, and the sun or Venus or Mercury by day or just after sundown.

Grand Canyon is one of the best night sky observing sites in the United States because it has some of the darkest skies and cleanest air in the country.

Participants will experience spectacular views of the universe! It is a good idea to dress warmly, since temperatures can drop quickly after sunset - even during the summer months.

On the South Rim, events will include a slide show nightly at 8:00 p.m., followed by telescope viewing behind the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Green laser Constellation Tours are offered at 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00 pm.

The slide show, constellation tours and at least one telescope are wheelchair accessible. The closest parking is in Lot 4. although parking is also available in lots 1 through 3, and the Village Route shuttle bus runs every half-hour until 11:00 p.m. To make sure you get a seat at the slide show, arrive a few minutes early.

On the North Rim, telescopes will be set up on the porch of the lodge every evening, with some possibility of daytime scopes available as well. Bulletin boards at the Visitor Center will list additional events such as star talks and special slide show programs in the Grand Canyon Lodge auditorium.

Bring a flashlight to make your way safely to the telescope area; red flashlights are best since the use of white lights is discouraged on the telescope lot." A red flashlight can be made by covering any flashlight with red cellophane or painting the lens with red nail polish or even a red magic marker. For more on why red flashlights are so helpful, click here. Although many telescopes come down after 11:00 p.m., on nights with clear, calm skies some astronomers will continue to share their telescopes well into the night.

The event is free (other than paying the park entrance fee of $25.00 per vehicle, good for 7 days of coming and going to either rim.) No reservations are needed except for astronomers wishing to share their telescopes, who register through the astronomy clubs sponsoring the event. Come for a night, or for the whole 8 night-event. Explore the Grand Canyon by day, and the universe by night!

Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association Grand Canyon Star Party Web Site:

Saguaro Astronomy Club Grand Canyon Star Party (North Rim) Web Site:
http://www.saguaroastro. org/content/ 2014GrandCanyonStarPartyNorthRim.htm

Short time lapse video of the 2011 Star Party by Dean Ketelsen

Information courtesy: NPS

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