Canyonlands
National Park Utah

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.

 
 

Ranger-led Stargazing Programs

Island in the Sky / Dead Horse Point State Park / Arches National Park

During the spring and fall, Island in the Sky rangers team up with rangers from Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park to introduce visitors to the wonders of the night sky. A ranger program will be followed by stargazing and telescope viewing. The location will rotate among the three parks and the start time will vary with the time of sunset. Programs will take place in good weather or bad. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on, a red flashlight (if you have one), and warm clothes.

The Needles

Stargazing events at The Needles include a night sky program, followed by telescope viewing. Programs begin at The Needles Visitor Center. Start times will vary based on the time of sunset. Programs will take place in good weather or bad. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on, a red flashlight (if you have one), and warm clothes.

The Maze

Stargazing events at The Maze occur occasionally in spring and fall. Programs will take place in good weather or bad. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on, a red flashlight (if you have one), and warm clothes.

 

Events

Check the calendar below for stargazing programs at Canyonlands National Park. You can also look for other stargazing events at nearby Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. See the full Calendar for all events.

 

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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: April 11, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2282 Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532

Phone:

435-719-2313

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