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Contact: Mara Meisel, (540) 999-3500 ext. 3282
Luray, Virginia: Shenandoah National Park will celebrate our connection to the universe during the third annual Night Sky Festival August 10-12, 2018. Park rangers, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar System Ambassadors, amateur astronomers and a veteran NASA astronaut will be on hand to encourage visitors to value dark skies through a variety of special programs and activities. Programs will take place at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 42.5 on Skyline Drive), Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51), Skyland Amphitheater (mile 42.5), Big Meadows Amphitheater (mile 51) and Loft Mountain Amphitheater (mile 79.5).
Ranger-led programs will focus on night-active animals, recent discoveries in space, and constellations. There will be opportunities for stargazing, constellation tours, safe solar viewing through a telescope, a planet walk, Junior Ranger activities, and more.
Delaware North, the park concessioner, will sponsor presentations by two guest speakers on Saturday, August 11, in Byrd Visitor Center auditorium. Veteran astronaut and space scientist Tom Jones will present “Beyond Earth: Humanity’s Future in Space” at 4:30 p.m. and ”Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Journey” at 7:00 p.m. NASA Solar System Ambassador Greg Redfern will present a program, “Shenandoah Skies and the Perseids” at 8:00 p.m. and again at 9:00 p.m., before heading out into the Big Meadow to view the night skies and watch for meteors (weather permitting).
NASA Solar System Ambassador and Park Ranger Kristin Hendershot will present “How’s the Weather in Space?” at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, August 11, at Byrd Visitor Center, and also “Meteor Showers: Hot and Cold” at Big Meadows Amphitheater at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, August 12.
Amateur astronomers invite visitors to view the heavens through their telescopes at the “Night Skies” program starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 10 in the Big Meadow (mile 51). Visitors may join them again starting at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday to stargaze and view the Perseid Meteor Shower. Outdoor night sky viewing events depend on clear skies.
The complete schedule for the Night Sky Festival can be found on the park’s website at: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/night-sky-festival.htm