Stargazing

people and telescopes illuminated in red with a starry sky overhead
Visitors gather for a telescope program at Grand View Point.

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 utter dark of a moonless night in Canyonlands surprises many visitors. As few as one in ten Americans live in areas 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 Canyonlands, the naked eye is sufficient to witness a wealth of stars. Under the right conditions, common binoculars may even reveal the rings of Saturn. Canyonlands preserves a wealth of resources. Many, like natural darkness, have become more significant as they become increasingly rare outside the park.

Stargazing on Your Own

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.

 

Stargaze with a Ranger

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

 
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    Spot the Station!

    Did you know you can see the International Space Station fly overhead? If you're in the right place at the right time, you'll see a bright spot sail across the sky. Look for an open area with a clear view of the sky. Check below for the next sighting.

     

    Last updated: June 4, 2019

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    2282 Resource Blvd.
    Moab, UT 84532

    Phone:

    435-719-2313

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