Death Valley Hosts Celestial Centennial Event April 8-10

Park Ranger and solar scope
Rangers, astronomical societies, and scientists will host solar scope and telescope viewings through the festival.

NPS photo by Kurt Moses

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News Release Date: March 14, 2016

Contact: Abby Wines, 760-786-3221

Contact: Alex Rothermel, 760-786-3277

DEATH VALLEY, CA –Death Valley National Park will be hosting the Celestial Centennial Mars Fest, April 8th –10th, 2016. Everyone is invited to attend this free night-sky and outer-space festival celebrating Death Valley's connection to the cosmos and the Centennial of the National Park Service.The event will include talks, field trips, programs, stargazing, and expositions with scientists, park rangers, and astronomy experts.

"Death Valley National Park is proud to team up with NASA, SETI Institute, Mars Science Laboratory, and many others to showcase the amazing work being done," said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. "Death Valley is a great place to bring all of this together for the public to see."

Death Valley offers some of the best stargazing in America. The International Dark-Sky Association has designated Death Valley National Park as a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, the highest rating of darkness. Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, "Visitors to the park are often amazed by the amount of stars they can see here. Some people have never seen the Milky Way before visiting Death Valley."

The Mars-like terrain of Death Valley National Park has also contributed directly to our knowledge of the solar system. Death Valley is one of several National Park Service sites that have been frequently used as 'analog sites' to test theories and equipment before employing them in space. This year's Celestial Centennial builds upon previous years' Mars Fest events as we look beyond the red planet and contemplate our place in the cosmos.

Most activities will be based at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. On the night of Friday, April 8th, astronomer and night-sky advocate Tyler Nordgren will deliver a keynote address, followed by a live taping of Planetary Radio with Mat Kaplan of the Planetary Society and astronomer Jill Tarter, former director of the SETI Institute. The park will host day and night family-friendly events on Saturday, April 9th, including festival expositions, stories, demonstrations, and night sky viewings. Talks and field trips with run throughout the day. Field trips and speakers will continue until mid-afternoon on Sunday, April 10th.

All Celestial Centennial events are free, open to the public, and do not require registration. The schedule for talks, presentations, and field trips is available now! Visit our website,, to stay updated with the latest information as it becomes available. For more information, contact or call (760) 786-3277.



Last updated: March 14, 2016

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