The National Geographic Traveler magazine contained a short article about a travel topic that is gaining many readers’ interest. One full page featured a photo of Utah’s Delicate Arch against a night sky filled with stars. It looks so awesome that it catches the eyes. The article reported that some cities are growing ever bigger and brighter and in many parts of the world, the night sky has become dimmed by light pollution. Light pollution will prevent you from enjoying a starry night.
Did you know that stargazing is now considered a tourist attraction and remote places that are appreciated for their earthly beauty by day are now considered the best places to view the heavens by night?
Internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing, Utah teems with remote but accessible parks, with just the right altitude and clear skies. Families can bond while learning and taking a closer look at the stars through powerful telescopes that are set up for the event. These are among the benefits of star parties and nighttime ranger chats.
Here are five of the best stargazing sites in Utah:
1. Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah in 2006 became the first International Dark Sky Park certified by the International Dark Sky Association, whose mission is to reduce light pollution. No star parties are held at the Natural Bridges for it is too far from hotels, restaurants or gas stations. But if you really make the effort, you will be rewarded seeing the brightest stars painted on the darkest skies.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon’s website boasts that its night sky is so dark that Venus will cause you to cast a shadow. Bryce Canyon is remote, but there are hotels and services near the park gates. Hence, there is active promotion for night sky visitors and an annual astronomy festival. Also, there are over 100 night-sky programs being held year-round.
3. Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks differs from the other sites as it is more elevated and closer to the stars. There are fewer visitors so you will have more chances to take turns looking at the telescope. This is one of the rare places where you can still see the Milky Way. Cedar Breaks’ star parties are only held during the summer months.
4. Arches National Park
Visitors of Utah’s popular Arches National Park enjoy excellent stargazing opportunities. Arches does not have a regular stargazing program or star parties, but these are held on special occasions. You can contact the park about its calendar in advance if you’d like to plan your trip when a special stargazing event is scheduled.
5. State Park Antelope Island
This is the best place to get away from light pollution and clearly see a starry night. Although Antelope Island is located in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, it is easily accessible by car. The Island’s Ogden Astronomical Society hosts star parties every month during the summer.
Reduction of light pollution is the result of efforts by astronomers, the National Park Service, environmentalists and many others. If light pollution is not controlled, the world will have dark night skies in the future. People can no longer enjoy the beauty of star-filled skies.