May 10, 2012
Darlene Koontz, 530-595-6102
Come witness a solar eclipse - the first in the U.S. in 18 years - at Lassen Volcanic National Park on Sunday, May 20. Join us for a special astronomy program at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. followed by eclipse viewing from 5:00 p.m. until sunset. The grand show is a view of the moon centered on and covering more than 95 percent of the sun. The point of maximum eclipse will occur at approximately 6:30 p.m. For safe viewing, eclipse glasses can be purchased from the Lassen Association bookstore, located at the visitor center. These glasses can be reused to watch the transit of Venus across the sun on June 5.
"Visiting Lassen provides an incredible opportunity for visitors to behold this stunning sight," said Park Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. "Weather-permitting, the eclipse forming above the rim of an ancient volcano offers an opportunity to create an unforgettable memory." If you wish to photograph this event, you'll need special filters, as the sun will still appear quite bright. Please join rangers at the Devastated Area on the north side of the park or Bumpass Hell parking area to view the eclipse from these ideal vantages. The Crags Campground will be open for dry camping on Sunday for those wishing to stay overnight after the eclipse. The campground has 45 sites which can accommodate up to two vehicles, three tents and six people per site.
Lassen Volcanic National Park will also host special programs celebrating the once-in-a-lifetime event of the transit of Venus on Tuesday, June 5. As Venus passes between the earth and the sun, the planet will trace a slow trajectory across the sun. Solar scopes will be available in the park for safe viewing of this rare event; the next time such an alignment occurs will be in 2117.
Learn more about astronomy and Lassen's important role in protecting dark night skies at the park's Dark Sky Festival from August 10 - 13. During the day, rangers will lead astronomy-themed hikes. Visitors can participate in workshops and activities, as well as view the sun safely through solar scopes. As night falls, Lassen will reveal skies full of stars, along with a chance to marvel at this year's spectacular Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 13. Special evening guest speakers and stargazing will help visitors discover that "half the park is after dark." Kids can also participate in the Junior Ranger Night Explorer program and earn a special patch. For additional information on the National Park Service's Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, please visit www.nature.nps.gov/night.
During Lassen's regular summer programming, visitors can stargaze using telescopes on Saturday nights from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Astronomy programs are also presented each Wednesday from 9:00 p.m. at the Devastated Area, beginning June 20 until August 8.
For more information, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/lavo or contact park staff at (530) 595-4480.