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Stargazing hot spots in Utah

Posted at 2:41 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 16:41:03-04

With Cedar Breaks National Monument just being granted International Dark Sky Park designation, an honor reserved for the darkest skies and the most stunning starscapes, Utah is now home to eight of the nation's sixteen parks. Emily Moench with Visit Utah talked about these parks and some stargazing events you can go to.

Dark Sky Parks In Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument: Cedar Breaks National Monument received its Dark Sky Certification in March 2017. The park is situated in one of the largest regions of remaining natural darkness in the lower 48 U.S., and leadership has seized this opportunity to provide an expanding array of education and outreach opportunities across southern Utah.

• Goblin Valley State Park: Goblin Valley State Park received the Gold Dark Sky Certification in September 2016.The Park's location in a remote corner of the Colorado Plateau and away from major urban centers yields a dark-sky resource that is comparable in quality to several Gold-tier IDA Dark Sky Parks in the region. The park has the darkest skies yet recorded by the IDSA.

Canyonlands National Park: Visitors from all over the world are invited to attend night sky programs at the Island in the Sky and Needles districts of the park where rangers use storytelling and telescopes to introduce the wonders of the universe to park visitors.

• Capitol Reef National Park: Despite serving over 830,000 visitors in 2014, Capitol Reef has largely resisted infrastructure development and instead offers visitors a rustic experience. As a consequence there is very little artificial lighting in the park, so visitors experience a night that is remarkably close to what it would have been in the pioneer era.

Weber County North Fork Park: Weber County North Fork Park is one of Utah's newest International Dark Sky Parks, receiving official designation just last year. North Fork Park has four qualities that sets it apart from many other Dark Sky Parks: urban adjacency, intense focus on wildlife, an extensive outreach program and innovative public art incorporating dark skies themes.

Natural Bridges National Monument: Natural Bridges National Monument, which was named the world's first International Dark Sky Park in 2007, is one of the darkest parks in the country according to a comprehensive study of night sky quality by the National Park Service.

Hovenweep National Monument: Home to ruins of six prehistoric villages built between 1200 and 1300 A.D., Hovenweep is open 24 hours a day to give visitors a convenient place to view the primeval darkness in a condition similar to that seen by its 13th century inhabitants.

Dead Horse Point State Park: The 5,362-acre park offers stunning views of the adjacent Canyonlands National Park, an International Dark Sky Park, and an iconic gooseneck bend in the Colorado River. Immense vertical cliffs meet with canyons carved by ice, water and wind creating a visual masterpiece. The park's position above the canyon walls makes for spectacular, virtually unobstructed, views of the night sky with sweeping, 360-degree panoramas. Dead Horse Point State Park receiving the designation in June 2016.

Upcoming Events

Bryce Canyon National Park Astronomy Festival: The 17th Annual Astronomy Festival at Bryce Canyon, June 21-24, 2017, will feature four days of solar viewing, building and launching model rockets, constellation tours and stargazing through huge telescopes.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Star Parties: Guests can observe swirling nebulae, twinkling star clusters, neighborly plants and distant galaxies through several different telescopes at one of Cedar Breaks' free star parties, every Saturday evening from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Celestial Adventure: Visitors looking to add more adventure to their stargazing experience can take a full moon lift ride up the mountains at Sundance Resort or trek through the wilderness on a full moon hike - many of Utah`s national and state parks even offer ranger-led hikes.