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Contact: Rick Ryan, (423) 346-6294
Contact: Christopher DermanStarry night skies are an important part of the special places the National Park Service protects. With the extent of urbanization in the United States it is becoming exceedingly difficult to experience the night with little impact from artificial light pollution. Here at Obed, away from urban development of the east and west coasts, the park has a night sky where visitors can still enjoy the splendor of the Milky Way and see a night-sky strewn with thousands of stars with only the naked eye.
As part of the park’s Dark Sky Initiative, Obed WSR offers night sky programs to provide visitors an in-depth look into the night sky while promoting its importance as a global resource. Obed is supported in its efforts by a strong collaboration with local astronomers. Earlier this year Obed Wild and Scenic River received a competitive grant from Eastern National to enhance the park’s dark sky and astronomy programs.
The grant enabled the park to purchase a Dobsonian reflector telescope with a 12-inch parabolic primary mirror, complemented with specialized eyepieces. The telescope was available during a debut appearance at Lilly Overlook to view the November super-moon, where visitors were awestruck by the crisp, clear, detailed views of the cratered lunar surface.
The grant was also used to offer a new youth-focused night sky activity; the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Night Explorer program, an activity guide for youth ages 5-12 to encourage young visitors to explore the “dark side” of their park. Completion of the activity book, ideally during a night sky program, is rewarded with a unique patch.
Founded in 1947, Eastern National supports the interpretive, educational and scientific programs and services of the National Park Service and other public trust partners. For more information about Obed’s night sky and astronomy programming, contact the park at 423-346-6294.