Stargazing

People and a telescope illuminated in red, with stars overhead
Visitors gather for a night sky program.

NPS/Chris Wonderly

 

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The national parks and monuments of the Colorado Plateau have long been popular destinations for travelers. In addition to their stunning landscapes and rich cultural history, these areas share another resource: some of the darkest skies remaining in the contiguous 48 United States.

The darkness of a moonless night at Arches surprises many visitors. As few as one in ten Americans lives in an area where they can see the estimated 2,500 stars that should be visible under normal conditions. In many cities, the night sky is completely obscured by the glow of urban settlement. At Arches, the naked eye is sufficient to witness a wealth of stars. Under the right conditions, common binoculars may even reveal the rings of Saturn. Arches' relative isolation from the artificial light of urban areas makes it an ideal place for viewing the night sky.

 

Stargaze on Your Own

How to Stargaze

Plan.
Even the light from a thin crescent moon can make it more difficult to see fainter stars or even the Milky Way. You'll see the darkest skies during a new moon or when the moon is below the horizon. Check sunrise and sunset times and moon phases at discovermoab.com.

Give yourself time.
It can take 20-30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Spend enough time outside away from bright lights to allow your eyes to adjust.

Use a red light.
White lights from flashlights, cell phones, or vehicle headlights can harm your night vision. A red light won't impact your night vision as much. Many flashlights and headlamps have a red-light feature, or you can simply cover your white light with red cellophane.

Bring a star chart.
A star chart or planisphere can help you find the constellations and Milky Way.

 

Where to Stargaze

On a clear night, you can see great stars just about anywhere in the park. Areas off the main park road with few obstructions of the sky are best. The farther north you drive, away from the lights of Moab, the darker the sky will be.

Try stargazing at these areas:

  • Balanced Rock Picnic Area
  • The Windows Section
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point
 

Stargaze with a Ranger

Visit the page listed below for a calendar of stargazing events in southeast Utah.

 
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    Last updated: June 3, 2019

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    Mailing Address:

    PO Box 907
    Moab, UT 84532

    Phone:

    (435) 719-2299

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