From rocket launching to stargazing, Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival offers ‘out of this world’ activities

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The 18th annual four-day Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival is taking place in Bryce Canyon City and Bryce Canyon National Park from June 13-16.

Guests will be able to experience the diversity of the night sky by participating in a variety of memorable activities including stargazing through telescopes and launching rockets.

Bryce Canyon National Park is home of the third darkest skies in North America, making it an excellent place for stargazing.

“Interpretive program attendance at the park over the last five years truly reveals the public’s appetite to discover unparalleled darkness and the beauty of the Milky Way galaxy,” said Todd Cullings, supervisory interpretive park ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Each day of the festival, attendees can participate in stargazing from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Stargazing during the event is not only enhanced by reduced light pollution in Bryce Canyon, but also by telescopes provided by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, the University of Utah and Bryce Canyon’s Astronomy Rangers.

Park rangers also will offer constellation tours during the stargazing. Guests will be able to view binary stars, nebulas, galaxies and clusters.

“People love visiting Bryce Canyon for its unique rock formations and beautiful views,” said Falyn Owens, executive director of Garfield County Office of Tourism. “These stunning sites are definitely worth seeing, but the views of the dark skies are just as notable. After all, Bryce Canyon offers some of the best stargazing in the world.”

In addition to rocket launching and stargazing, guests will have daily opportunities to look at the sun through a special telescope, attend a half-mile scaled walk of the solar system and experience the solar system within an inflatable starlab.

The festival also features special presentations from park rangers and Morehead Planetarium educator Amy Sayle.

At 9 p.m. on Friday, NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller will deliver her keynote presentation. Thaller has been featured on the Discovery Channel television series “How the Universe Works” and has also given two TEDx Talks on dark matter. Tickets to the presentation are $3 per person or $10 per family.

The ongoing success of the annual event can be attributed to the partnerships the National Park Service has made with Utah organizations, including the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, the University of Utah, Red Canyon Transport, Bryce Canyon City and Ruby’s Inn. Bryce Canyon City, Ruby’s Inn and Red Canyon Transport provide services and facilities for the festival.

For more information about the Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival, including a complete list and schedule of activities, click here. To learn about other activities around Bryce Canyon, click here

Event Details

  • What: 18th annual Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival.
  • When: June 13-16. Stargazing from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller keynote speech June 15 at 9 p.m.
  • Where: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Details: For more information, click here.

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