You're Invited to a Party!
As darkness falls on Cedar Breaks National Monument, a different kind of light illuminates the night sky. That light, which comes from objects out in space transforms the night from a place of darkness into a place of wonder.
To celebrate and share the beauty of our dark night skies, Cedar Breaks hosts a series of star parties throughout the summer season. Each star party is conducted by park staff and astronomy volunteers at Point Supreme. Once the light fades, the party kicks off with a laser light tour of the constellations, followed by star viewing through several telescopes. Observe swirling nebulae, twinkling star clusters, neighborly planets, and distant galaxies. Learn about everything from constellation mythology to the structure of the universe, all in one night! Click to here to see star party dates for summer 2013.
Star parties are free of charge and are two hours in duration. Telescopes will be provided for viewing, although visitors who own their own telescopes are invited to bring them along. Please dress warmly for the cool night air at this high elevation!
Star parties will be held every Saturday evening beginning in July and extending through Labor Day weekend. Additional star parties are scheduled for full moons and meteor showers. Please note that start times will change as the season progresses.
Star parties may be canceled due to inclement weather: for more information call the visitor center at 435-586-0787 ex. 4031 (during the summer season only).
Experience the Perseid Meteor Shower!
The dark skies of Cedar Breaks are the perfect place to see one of the most fantastic light shows of the year- the Perseid meteor shower. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a comet’s orbit. As comets travel around the sun, they leave trails of dust particles behind. When these particles come in contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, friction causes them to burn up into bright streaks across the sky. Perseid meteors are so named because they appear to radiate outwards from the Perseus constellation. The shower peaks after midnight on the night of August 12th, when as many as 40 meteors per hour can be seen. Bring a lounge chair, a blanket, and a hot drink and enjoy the show!
Darkness- A Forgotten Resource
Due to its high elevation and remote location, Cedar Breaks has one of the darkest night skies in the country. However, this often overlooked natural resource is in danger of being completely lost as increased light pollution from nearby cities obscures the stars. Instead of a deep black expanse punctuated by the brilliant pinpoints of stars and the iridescent glow of the Milky Way, light pollution reduces the night sky to a faintly orange haze.
Light pollution has become so prevalent in urban areas that it’s becoming difficult to remember what the night sky is supposed to look like. For example, after a 1994 earthquake knocked the power out in Los Angeles, emergency centers received numerous calls from anxious residents regarding a strange, silvery cloud in the sky. They didn’t realize they were looking at their own galaxy. National Parks and Monuments are one of the few remaining places where the wonders of the night sky can still be seen. In fact, two-thirds of the people in the United States will never see the Milky Way unless they travel to remote places like National Parks.
Click here for more information about the ecological and human health effects of light pollution.
Courtesy of Stephen Charnook
Amazing Annular Eclipse
The annular eclipse on May 20, 2012, boasted a huge crowd at Cedar Breaks, with over 600 people viewing the eclipse from inside the monument, and thousands more flocking to the nearby town of Kanarraville. Kanarraville was located directly along the path of total annularity, where the moon's shadow across the sun formed a perfectly round circle. While Cedar Breaks was not on the exact line of annularity, spectators were nonetheless treated to an dramatic view of the entire eclipse from its start at 6:30pm to its finish just before sunset. The next complete eclipse to be visible over North America won't occur until August 21, 2017.
Courtesy of Jeffrey Pedersen
A Rare Transit of Venus
On June 5, 2012, Cedar Breaks was treated to another spectacular solar event: the transit of Venus. Visitors to the monument were treated with views through a solar telescope of the planet crossing in front of the sun's disc. This event was the second of a pair of transits, with the first being in 2004. The next pair of Venus transits won't occur for another 105 years, making this truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Did You Know?
Cedar Breaks National Monument can get about 250 days of freezing temperatures during the year. This freezing process contributes to the erosion that shapes the Cedar Breaks amphitheater.