Grand Canyon National Park prepares to host 34th annual night sky star party

The 34th annual Grand Canyon Star Party on the South Rim and the North Rim will offer nightly opportunities June 1-8, to view many features in the night sky, date not specified | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – Dozens of telescopes will offer views of planets, double stars, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies during the 34th annual Grand Canyon Star Party June 1-8.

The South and North Rims of Grand Canyon National Park are among the most favorable protective havens for some of the last remaining dark skies in the United States, according to a National Park Service press release.

“By day, keep an eye out for solar telescopes pointed at the sun. Weather permitting, expect spectacular views of the universe,” the news release said.

On the South Rim, parking is available at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center in Lots 1-4. Events include a nightly slide show from a special guest speaker at 8 p.m. in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Theater. The list of speakers can be found on the park webpage.

To get a good seat for the speaker presentation, arrive early. The talks are followed by free telescope viewing behind the building. Green-laser Constellation Tours will be offered nightly at 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m.

People stargaze during Grand Canyon National Park’s “Star Party” in Arizona, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

On the South Rim, parking is available at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center in Lots 1 through 4. Nighttime temperatures on both rims can be quite cool, even in summer. Those attending the Star Party are encouraged to bring warm layers of clothing.

A light source is recommended for the walk to the viewing area, but white lights are not permitted on the Telescope Lot. Give your eyes time to adapt to darkness, or use a red flashlight, easily made by covering any flashlight with red cellophane.

On the North Rim, telescopes will be set up on the terrace of the Grand Canyon Lodge every evening. Astronomers will also use green lasers to point out constellations. By day, look for solar telescopes on the terrace and surrounding the Grand Canyon Lodge. Check the Visitor Center and park bulletin boards for program topics and additional details.

The 2024 Star Party is sponsored by the National Park Service, Grand Canyon Conservancy, the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (South Rim) and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix (North Rim).

In June 2019, Grand Canyon National Park achieved International Dark-Sky Park status through DarkSky International, the news release said. The certification is awarded to parks that have retrofitted at least 67% of their exterior lights to be dark-sky-friendly and maintain outreach programs throughout the year.

The park had five years to make 90% of its lights dark-sky friendly. This year, the park celebrates achieving over 90% dark-sky compliance of all exterior lighting fixtures, having passed the milestone in January of 2024.

Click here for additional information on the Grand Canyon Star Party.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!