Here’s how you can see the night skies better: Check out a telescope from the library

Ranchhouse Milky Way: At the historic Waring Ranch in the Parashant, undated | Photo courtesy Todd Miller, National Park Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —  For southern Utah residents, getting a closer look at our night sky will soon be as easy as checking out a book from the library. Telescopes will be available to check out starting April 30th at Washington County libraries so that area residents can get a closer look at all those fascinating points of light in the night sky.

Telescope Setup on the Parashant, undated | Photo courtesy of Todd Miller, National Park Service, St. George News

The telescope lending program is a partnership between Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Cedar Breaks National Monument, the St. George Astronomy Group, and the Washington County Library System. Six telescopes were donated to the Washington County Libraries from the two monuments. The Washington County Library System purchased two more telescopes so that a telescope would be available at each branch. Maintenance of the telescopes will be provided by the St. George Astronomy Group.

“Dark night skies are one of the great benefits of living in southwest Utah,” Parashant superintendent Chad Corey said. “Through the telescope lending program we are happy to provide Washington County residents the opportunity to experience the wonders that come from seeing those objects in the night sky in much higher detail.”

Due to increasing light pollution in cities, many people around the world can’t see more than a few stars at night. St. George is only 120 miles from Las Vegas, which is reputed to be the brightest place on earth. Yet in St. George hundreds of stars can still be seen on a dark night. Travel out of town to one of the local national parks or to other public lands, which are some of the darkest places in United States, and the visible stars can number in the thousands.

Library patrons can check out a telescope and explore the night sky for a week at a time in their own backyard. The telescopes are modified to be user-friendly. The StarBlast 4.5-inch tabletop reflecting telescope has quality optics that provide great views of the craters on Earth’s moon, Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae and more. Included with each telescope is an instruction manual, moon-map, pocket guide of the constellations, and a night vision-friendly red LED headlamp.

A star party, open to the public, will be held on the west lawn behind the St. George Library located at 88 W. 100 South in St. George on Saturday April 28, 2018 from 8-10 p.m. to celebrate the kick-off of the library telescope lending program. Washington County residents are encouraged to stop by for a quick lesson on how to use the lending telescopes and to enjoy stargazing with the St. George Astronomy Group.

Contact your local library to check on telescope availability. For more information on protecting dark night skies, visit this website.

Event details

  • What: Washington County Library star party.
  • When: Saturday, April 28 at 8-10 p.m.
  • Where: Behind the St. George Library located at 88 W. 100 South in St. George.
  • Details: The public is invited and welcomed. Come learn how to operate the telescopes that will be lent out to residents.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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