The New Year is well upon us. This is always a good time to reflect on the year gone by and look to the new adventure that is about to begin. By now you’ve probably set your resolutions for 2016. The national parks are no different. 2015 was a banner year for dark skies throughout the Colorado Plateau, but we still have much work to do in 2016.
Looking back, we celebrate the achievement of International Dark Sky Park status for Black Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks. This is a fantastic recognition and celebration of the amazing dark skies found in our backyards. The park is proud of this accomplishment but we certainly aren’t resting on our laurels.
2016 promises to be a busy one for national parks and dark skies. The National Park Service will celebrate its Centennial year, bringing with it a host of special events. The 7th Annual Astronomy Festival will take place from June 1-4 with guest speaker Dr. Tyler Nordgren, professor of Astronomy at the University of Redlands in California. Kids programs, night hikes, and photography workshops are among the many other activities taking place over the 4 days.
The Astronomy Festival is the highlight of our astronomy year but there are many more events on the agenda. Late winter astronomy talks will take place on February 6th and March 5th. Beginning in mid-May, astronomy programs and observation will occur every Wednesday and Friday in the South Rim Campground. At all of these events you’ll have a chance to rub elbows with astronomers from the Black Canyon Astronomical Society and Sky Rangers from the National Park Service.
Planning events and setting resolutions can be challenging and even a bit overwhelming. What will you do for dark skies this year? Setting goals is also a very rewarding endeavor. Here at Black Canyon and throughout the national parks, we will continue to be resolute in the protection and enjoyment of our dark sky wilderness.
You’ve been listening to Western Slope Skies, produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society. This episode was written and recorded by Park Ranger Nick Myers of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
For more information on astronomy programs and events in the park: