Star Gazing at Cedar Breaks
As darkness falls on Cedar Breaks National Monument, a different kind of light illuminates the night sky. This light, which comes from objects out in space transforms the night from a place of darkness into a place of wonder. Due to our high elevation and remote location, Cedar Breaks is an excellent place to view the night sky.
Summer Star Parties
To celebrate and share the beauty of our night skies, Cedar Breaks holds a series of astronomy programs (also known as "star parties") throughout the summer season.
Park rangers and volunteer astronomers host each star party at Point Supreme Overlook. The program begins just before sunset with a ranger-led presentation on astronomy & the dark skies of Cedar Breaks. As the Sun sets and daylight fades, you'll get to view a variety of celestial wonders through several large telescopes. Depending on the night, you might see craters & mountain ranges on the Moon, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's Galilean moons, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and more! Once the skies are completely dark, rangers lead laser-powered constellation tours and discuss the mythology of the heavens.
Star parties are held every Saturday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Additional star parties are held for special events (such as meteor showers or eclipses) and as staffing permits. Start times vary depending on the month:
Check out our upcoming events calendar for details on upcoming star parties!
Star parties are free of charge and generally last 2-3 hours. Reservations are not needed, just show up! Feel free to drop in for a half hour or stay the entire time. Cedar Breaks is home to the highest regularly scheduled astronomy program (10,350 feet) in the entire National Park system. Please dress warmly for the cool night air at this high elevation! You may also wish to bring a lawn or camp chair as seating at Point Supreme is limited.
Please Note: Telescope viewing may be cancelled due to inclement weather. In this event, rangers will lead an indoor astronomy presentation at the Cedar Breaks Ranger Station (200 yards south of the visitor center). For more information, call the visitor center at 435-586-0787 ex. 4031 (during the summer season only).
You can also check the night sky and weather forecast using the links below.
Winter Star Parties
Cedar Breaks may be snowbound in the winter months, but that doesn't stop our rangers from sharing the wonders of the night sky. Cedar Breaks National Monument and Brian Head Resort have partnered to host a series of star parties at Navajo Lodge in Brian Head during the winter months.
Winter star parties are free of charge and are two hours in duration. Warm beverages are provided. Please dress extremely warmly for the cold winter night air at this high elevation! Astronomy is a relatively sedentary activity;as a rule of thumb, in order to be comfortable you should dress for at least 20 degrees colder than the outside air temperature (i.e., if it is 30° F, dress as if it is 10° F)
Despite the cold temperatures, the list of winter celestial sights is long. The Orion Nebula, star clusters, galaxies, and the winter Milky Way are among the jewels of the sky you might see during a winter star party.
Visit our upcoming events calendar for times and dates of upcoming winter star parties.
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 is 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 did not 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.
Check out the EnviroNews Article on ecological and human health effects of light pollution to learn more.
Last updated: March 6, 2017