Grand Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon Conservancy invited everyone to the Virtual Grand Canyon Star Party that took place , June 13-20, 2020. While the on-site event at Grand Canyon National Park had to be cancelled on both rims due to concerns over COVID-19, the park brought the wonders of the night sky into the virtual realm through a series of video premieres on the park's Facebook page.
Over the course of the week, there were 8 special presentations by guest speakers - and virtual telescope sessions - in which astronomers connected video cameras to their telescopes and examined a number of celestial objects. The nightly telescope sessions lasted between 60 and 90 minutes. Below is the schedule of presentations, and the links to the videos on Facebook:
Saturday, June 13, 2020
6 pm (PDT) Dark Skies in Isolation: Why Protecting the Night Sky is More Important Than Ever Learn about the work of the International Dark Sky Association and the state of light pollution during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaker Bios: Virtual Grand Canyon Star Party 2020
Dr. John Barentine
John is the Director of Public Policy for the International Dark Sky Association. He comes to the association from the “dark side” of science: professional astronomy. He obtained a master’s degree in physics at Colorado State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. From 2001-06 he was on the staff of Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, serving as both an Observing Specialist on the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-meter telescope and as an Observer for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. John has contributed to science in fields ranging from solar physics to galaxy evolution while helping develop hardware for ground-based and aircraft-borne astronomy. Throughout his career, he has been involved in education and outreach efforts to help increase the public understanding of science. In addition to his work for IDA, John is a member of the steering committee of the University of Utah Consortium for Dark Sky Studies; a member of the American Astronomical Society Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference and Space Debris; a member of the International Astronomical Union; and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is the author of two books on the history of astronomy, The Lost Constellations and Uncharted Constellations. The asteroid (14505) Barentine is named in his honor.
Dr. Danielle Adams
Dr. Danielle Adams is a Cultural Astronomer and Director for Marketing and Communications for Lowell Observatory. She earned her PhD in 2018 from the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the School of Anthropology. Her dissertation research centered on the development of Arabian astronomy from pre-Islam into the first centuries of the Abbasid Period, making her academic program at UA highly interdisciplinary, combining fields of MENA area studies, Arabic literature, cultural anthropology and astronomy. Fluent in Arabic, she lived in Beirut, Lebanon, for three years while studying Arabic poetry and Arabian astronomical texts. Her research presents for the first time Arabian stars within their own cultural contexts. While at the University of Arizona, Dr. Adams earned a NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellowship, through which she was able to disseminate her cultural astronomy research to the general public. At Lowell Observatory, she continues to be active in astronomy education, speaking to various groups about Arabian cultural astronomy and the heritage of the many Arabic star names astronomers use today. She is also an associate member of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Star Names (IAU WGSN), where she lends her expertise on Arabian and Islamic astronomical traditions.
Dean Regas is an American astronomer, public speaker, author, and television host. He is most widely known as the cohost of the syndicated television show Star Gazers, which airs daily on more than 100 PBS stations around the world. He has been the Outreach Astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory since 2000 where he specializes in astronomy education and public speaking. Regas is the author of three books: Facts From Space!, 100 Things to See in the Night Sky, and 100 Things to See in the Southern Night Sky. He is a Contributing Editor to Sky & Telescope magazine and a contributor to Astronomy magazine. Regas is a frequent guest on nationally broadcast radio shows Science Friday and Here and Now. In 2017 he created a podcast for popular astronomy called Looking Up, which he cohosts with Cincinnati Observatory Development Director Anna Heehman.
Dr. Amber Straughn
Dr. Amber Straughn is an Astrophysicist on the James Webb Space Telescope science team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. She also serves as the Associate Director of the Astrophysics Science Division. Amber grew up in rural Arkansas, and obtained her B.S. in Physics at the University of Arkansas in 2002, and completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics at Arizona State University in 2008. Amber is interested in answering questions about our universe that relate to how galaxies and their black holes change over time. In addition to research, Amber is very active in science communications. She frequently speaks at schools, astronomy clubs, museums, and research societies nationwide. Amber has done numerous live television interviews and media features for NASA, and has appeared on CBS 60 Minutes, PBS NOVA, The Discovery Channel, and The Science Channel.
Shreenivasan Manievannan aka Shreeni is an astro landscape photographer and an International Dark Sky Association's official Delegate advocating for protecting dark skies around the world. He has been photographing night skies for almost 10 years now and won awards for his nightscape images. He works for GoPro and has been a contributor to BBC Earth social media. For the past few years, he started working with experimental technologies to capture dark skies ranging from using low budget cameras to some of the recent advances in technology to capture night skies in real time videography other than the traditional long exposure photography.
Kevin Schindler is the historian at Lowell Observatory, where he has worked for more than two decades. Kevin is an active member of the Flagstaff history and science communities, having served as Sheriff of the Flagstaff Corral of Westerners International for 13 years and on the board of the Flagstaff Festival of Science for a similar length of time. When not digging through Lowell’s archives, he writes articles for a variety of publications and contributes a bi-weekly astronomy column, “View from Mars Hill”, for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper. He has written six books and has both a fossil crab and asteroid named after him. He was recently named by Arizona Humanities as the recipient of its 2019 Friend of the Humanities Award, which recognizes public individuals who make a lasting contribution to the cultural life of their Arizona communities through their active support of, and involvement in, promoting the humanities.
Bettymaya Foott is the Director of Engagement at the International Dark Sky Association. She graduated from the University of Utah Honors Program with an H.B.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, her main thesis entitled “Light pollution hazards within ecosystems and mitigation strategies for the future.” Her dark sky career began with working for Utah State Parks as a Dark Sky Intern and then as a seasonal employee, starting 12 International Dark-Sky Park Applications across the state. She then worked as Coordinator for the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative and the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies at the University of Utah. Bettymaya is an accomplished astrophotographer and teaches night sky photography workshops around the Colorado Plateau and beyond.
Vishnu Reddy is an associate professor of planetary sciences at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Prior to serving as a faculty member at the U of A, he was a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, from 2012-2016. Professor Reddy is member of NASA’s Dawn mission working with the Framing Camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. Professor Reddy is a Co-investigator on NASA’s Near-Earth Object Camera mission to discover 90% of near-Earth objects larger than 140 meters. In addition to his work with NASA, Professor Reddy is part of the Space Situational Awareness program at the University of Arizona where he has developed a network of small optical sensors to characterize orbital debris and active resident space objects for the United States Air Force Research Laboratory.
Information About Attending the Grand Canyon Star Party 2021, in Grand Canyon National Park (June 5–12, 2021)
National parks protect some of the last remaining dark skies in the United States and embraces night skies as one of the many scenic vistas to preserve. Due to its remoteness and clean air, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best night sky observation sites.
For eight days every June, park visitors explore the wonders of the night sky on the South Rim with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, and on the North Rim with the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, Arizona.
The 2020 Grand Canyon Star Party, at Grand Canyon National Park was cancelled due to public health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Things to Know about the 2021 Star Party
Attend this free, open to the general public, event. The park entrance fee, is good on both South and North rims for 7 days. No additional tickets or sign-up is required.
The event begins at sunset, although the best viewing is after 9 pm and many telescopes come down after 11 pm; however, on nights with clear, calm skies, some astronomers continue sharing their telescopes into the night.
Dress warmly. Temperatures drop quickly after sunset—even during summer months.
View an assortment of planets, double stars, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies by night, and perhaps the Sun or Venus by day.
Skies will be starry and dark until the moon rises the first night. It rises progressively later throughout the week of the Star Party.
Bring a Red Flashlight
Make your way safely: use a red flashlight; white flashlights and cell phone lights are discouraged on the telescope lot. Make a red flashlight by:
Covering any flashlight with red cellophane, a limited supply of cellophane and rubber bands are available prior to the evening presentations at the Grand Canyon Visitor center)
Painting the flashlight lens with red nail polish or a red magic marker.
For more on why red flashlights are helpful, and how the human eye works after dark, click here.
South Rim Star Party 2021
Events include an evening program nightly in the Visitor Center Theater at 8 pm, followed by telescope viewing behind Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
Theater capacity is limited. Arrive well before 8 pm to be sure of getting in, or come after dark and head straight to the telescope lot.
Park rangers offer constellation tours at 9, 9:30, and 10 pm. The slide show, constellation tours, and at least one telescope are wheelchair accessible.
The closest accessible parking is in lot 4. Lots 1 through 3 offer additional parking.
During the Star Party, the Village Route (blue) shuttle bus runs every half-hour until 11 pm sharp.
The South Rim Star Party is sponsored by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.
Amateur astronomers from across the country volunteer their expertise and offer free nightly astronomy programs and telescope viewing.
Star Party Evening Programs (South Rim)
South Rim Visitor Center. Doors open at 7:40 pm. Presentations start at 8 pm. (Limited-capacity seating) Program Schedule Coming soon
Night Sky Photography Workshops (South Rim)
Night Sky Photography Workshops meet at Grand Canyon Visitor Center at 9:30 pm, then take place out under the stars. Workshops are free and open to the public. Schedule Coming soon
Constellation Talks (South Rim)
Constellation talks happen every night 9, 9:30 and 10 pm Schedule Coming soon
North Rim Star Party 2021
Telescopes are set up on the porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge every evening. An astronomy related evening program will be presented at 8 pm in the auditorium of Grand Canyon Lodge. Check park bulletin boards for the evening program schedule.
Constellation talks are also given, throughout the evening.
By day, solar telescopes are set up at the lodge, the Visitor Center and the general store (by campground.)
The North Rim Star Party is sponsored by the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, Arizona.
Become a Volunteer in 2021
All amateur astronomers interested in sharing the skies with visitors are invited to participate. Whether you can volunteer for a few days or the whole event, you can help to enrich the lives of people from all over the world.
Find volunteer opportunities for day and night telescopic outreach, visual and imaging, laser guided constellation tours, demonstration toolkits and auditorium presentations. Register through the astronomy clubs sponsoring the event, links provided.
CaLisa Lee takes us to the North rim of the Grand Canyon for their annual Star Party event. Hear from rangers and astronomers about how the night sky can connect us to other people and the past. Video by the Planetary Society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y2yJiSHPqM
Experience the mystery and wonder of Grand Canyon National Park's night sky with Astronomer Tyler Nordgren and Park Ranger Rader Lane. Explore the beauty of the night sky and learn what you can do to help preserve it.