• Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

    Bryce Canyon

    National Park Utah

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  • Back Country Campsite Closed

    Due to bear activity at Bryce Canyon's back-country, the following campsite has been closed until further notice: Sheep Creek

Astronomy & Night Sky Programs

Astro Logo Ranger Silhouette yellow border web

Bryce Canyon Astronomy Logo

NPS design by Kevin Poe & Joel Allen

Bryce Canyon is the ultimate place to learn about and enjoy the splendor of the night sky. Far from the light pollution of civilization, and protected by a special force of park rangers and volunteer astronomers known as "The Dark Rangers," Bryce Canyon is the last grand sanctuary of natural darkness. The night sky at Bryce is so dark we can see 7500 stars on a moonless night! Here the Milky Way extends from horizon to horizon like a vast silver rainbow! Here Venus, and even Jupiter, are bright enough to cause you to cast a shadow! No visit to Bryce Canyon is complete without joining the Dark Rangers for one of their educational and entertaining celebrations of natural darkness. Review our schedule below and plan your trip to the Colorado Plateau and Desert Southwest so that you can join us for astronomy.

Looking for total night-sky immersion? Join us for our Annual Astronomy Festival!

 
Looking at the night sky

Looking at the night sky

Courtesy of Salt Lake Tribune

NIGHT SKY PROGRAMS
When:
142 Shows / year (see schedule below)
Where: check at Visitor Center upon arrival
Duration: 1 hr. multimedia, +90min @ telescopes
Cherish this last grand sanctuary of natural darkness by attending a multimedia show followed by stargazing with telescopes (weather permitting). Most nights we offer two different multimedia shows concurrently. Plan your visit using the generic schedule below. Upon your arrival, stop at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to pick the program of your choice and learn whereabouts of its starting location.

Watch this Video to learn more about our Astronomy / Night Sky Presentations

 

ASTRONOMY PROGRAM SCHEDULE

On average Bryce Canyon offers an astronomy program 142 astronomy programs per year! But the best time to come is when are sky is darkest -- during the week of the new moon or the week prior to the new moon.

This is our core astronomy schedule. Except where noted below in red text IT DOES NOT change from year to year. See below for additional special astronomy events for the year 2013.

WINTER (Nov. thru 2nd Sat. in March):
EVERY Saturday. @ 7:00pm

SPRING (after 2nd Sat. in March thru April):
EVERY Saturday @ 8:00pm
Sometimes also Tuesday & Thursday @ 8:00pm

LATE SPRING (May):
EVERY Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday. @ 8:30pm

SUMMER (June & July):
EVERY Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday @ 9:00pm
EXCEPT June 24 (Preparing for Astronomy Festival)
EXCEPT Saturday, July 26
(Geology Festival)

LATE SUMMER (August):
EVERY Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday @ 8:30pm

FALL (September):
EVERY Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday @ 8:00pm

LATE FALL (October):
EVERY Tuesday & Saturday @ 7:30pm
Sometimes also Thursday @ 7:30pm

All astronomy programs are followed by stargazing with telescopes (weather permitting). NOTE: Multimedia Programs are NEVER canceled due to bad weather. Only the stargazing half of the evening may be subject to weather related cancellations. THERE ARE NO ADVANCED RESERVATIONS, just arrive 15-30 minutes early to ensure getting a good seat. During Spring, Summer, and Fall we usually often two different astronomy presentation simultaneously. Each Dark Ranger has at least two different astronomy presentations he/she can provide so topics vary from night to night. Check at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center upon your arrival to decide which astronomy related topic being offered is of most interest to you and where to go for its starting location.

 
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Patrick Wiggins with observatory in background

NASA Solar System Ambassador, Patrick Wiggins

Salt Lake Tribune

POPULAR MULTIMEDIA NIGHT SKY/ASTRONOMY SHOWS:

"Reaching WAY Out! The Latest in Space Exploration" by Patrick Wiggins
. Patrick Wiggins is Bryce Canyon's "Founding Father of Astronomy"! 2014 marks Patrick's 28th year of providing astronomy programs at Bryce Canyon. Patrick works for the University of Utah Physics Department, and is also a NASA Solar System Ambassador. Join Patrick for an insider's look at the latest in astronomy and international space exploration with humorous distinctions between science fiction and science fact.

Patrick's 2014 Schedule:

Thursday May 1 8:30 p.m.
Thursday June 5 9:00 p.m.
Thursday July 3 9:00 p.m.
Thursday July 31 8:30 p.m.
Thursday September 25 8:00 p.m.


 
Kevin Poe with telescope at Bryce Canyon

Head Dark Ranger Kevin Poe with his telescope "Marvin"

NPS

Presentations by Head Dark Ranger Kevin Poe:
"Dark Wars"
This techno-thriller tours the battlefield between the expansion of artificial light and the preservation of natural darkness. Learn about this desperate struggle where the fate of astronomy, nocturnal animals, climate change, and even human health hangs in the balance. Duration: 70 minutes.

"Scared of the Dark?" Darkness is a common fear, but knowledge can make you brave. In this multimedia presentation Poe introduces you to scotobiology (nocturnal ecology) and Bryce's nocturnal creatures, explaining why animals lovers should be more scared of the light than the dark. Duration: 60 minutes.

"Bringer of Life, Giver of Death" Sol, our Sun is the most important thing in our known universe and yet we still don't understand it very well. It's so necessary to life that it can seem benevolent, and yet so powerful it can be accused of malevolence. Dark Ranger Kevin Poe celebrates our closest star from the perspective of plants, animals, ancient cultures, astronomy, and green energy. Duration: 70 minutes

 
Salt Lake Astrological Society logo

Special Guest Astronomers:

Salt Lake Astronomical Society (SLAS) -- SLAS is Utah's largest league of amateur astronomers. Bryce Canyon National Park is proud to have SLAS as a long term partner in interpreting astronomy and furthering our efforts to protect natural dark sky. Club members occasionally join us for our weekly astronomy programs and come in force for our annual Astronomy Festival. SLAS members graciously share with our visiting public their personally owned big telescopes and their love of the night sky. Click here to learn more about SLAS.

You! -- If you are interested in sharing your love of astronomy and natural dark skies, consider applying for a position as part of Bryce Canyon's Volunteer Astronomer Corps. Click here for more information.

 
Setting up telescopes in late afternoon

Salt Lake Astronomical Society prepares  their telescopes for stargazing.

NPS photo by Kevin Doxstater

BRYCE CANYON ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL

Every Summer Bryce Canyon offers a 4-day astronomy festival where amateur astronomers from the Salt Lake Astronomical Society assist Bryce Canyon's Dark Rangers in hosting a world-class public stargazing event. This annual extravaganza offers more than just the opportunity to look through huge telescopes, also featured at each festival are:

- Famous astronomy/night sky guest speakers
- Planet Walks (1/10 billion scale solar system)
- Model rocket building & launching
- Learn the sky with a planisphere workshops
- Green laser constellation tours

(Click here or photo above to learn more)

 
Dark Ranger Silhoutte with full moon rising over plateau with alpine glow.

Dark Ranger leads a full moon guided hike.

NPS photo by Kevin Poe & Ron Warner

FULL MOON HIKES
When:
Full Moon nights(click here or photo for dates)
Where:
Announced only to ticket holders
Duration: 1-2 miles, 2-3 hours
Join one of Bryce Canyon's "Dark Rangers" for a nocturnal adventure. These highly popular hikes are only offered during the full moon. Flashlights are prohibited and "lug traction" footwear is required. Tickets can only be obtained at the visitor center the morning of the hike on a first come, first served basis.

 
visitors peering at the sun through a solar telescope

Peering at the sun

NPS

SOLAR VIEWING
When:
3 times per week, seasonally
Where: Varies
Duration: Come & go as you please.
Remember how Mom always said you shouldn't look at the sun and never through binoculars or a telescope? Well it's okay to do it with our special solar telescopes! Look for our staffed solar viewing station in front of the visitor center where you can get a safe look at our Sun -- the bringer of life and the giver of death!

Did You Know?

Milky Way with hoodoos

Bryce Canyon National Park has a 7.4 limiting magnitude night sky! In most rural areas of the United States, 2500 stars can be seen on a clear night. At Bryce Canyon, 7500 stars can be seen twinkling in the void! More...