by Rich Csenge
Just as the forecast for clearing skies begins to replace the summer monsoon, Kanab’s nonprofit Stellar Vista Observatory (SVO) will hold a free public star party at Jackson Flat Reservoir boat launch parking area Friday evening, August 26, from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. It’s only one of numerous public observing events SVO’s area volunteers are organizing in 2022 to provide opportunities for appreciation and comprehension of Kane County’s star-studded night skies. https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/
If you or your family would like learn more about the wonders of the night sky, the stars, planets, nebulae and clusters visible in our galaxy, how to use a telescope, or what type of astronomy equipment to buy to begin your own personal journey of discovery, this event is for you. Backyard astronomy is a great hobby for inquisitive young minds in what is very much a new and emerging recreational pursuit. Think affordable, autonomous, uncrowded, cosmic and truly way cool! And Kanab, Utah, offers brilliant nighttime viewing of the heavens; elsewhere a vanishing heritage resource of the Southwest!
Powerful, easy-to-use telescopes and mounted binoculars operated by members of the SVO working group who know the night sky will assist you in taking a stimulating journey through the cosmos. Best practices for outdoor lighting will be demonstrated to help you preserve the visibility of the nighttime sky in your neighborhood for generations to come.
The Southwest Astronomy Festival is organized by The National Park Service. Beginning Friday, August 26th and continuing daily through Sunday, August 28th, the festival will feature programs and activities to highlight the amazing dark night sky in and around the national monuments in Southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. In addition to Kanab, free star parties are scheduled on Friday for Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion National Park and Southern Utah University’s Ashcroft Observatory. The festival continues Saturday and Sunday. Complete information is online at: https://www.nps.gov/cebr/planyourvisit/swaf-22.htm
For those living along the Arizona Strip, Stellar Vista Observatory joins Pipe Spring National Monument to provide an outdoor lighting demo as well as telescopes and binoculars for their annual star party on Saturday August 27th, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. This unique and immersive experience offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the dark sky views of the Southern Paiute people. The star party will be located on the lawn of the Kaibab Paiute RV/Park and campground. Pipe Spring is located in northern Arizona on the Kaibab Paiute reservation and does not observe daylight savings time.
In addition to its series of public observing events, in cooperation with the Kane County Office of Tourism. SVO encourages and facilitates enjoyment and learning about the night sky as a form of outdoor recreation by people of all ages and levels of experience, including children with parental guidance. It’s Discover the Night Sky program provides high quality astronomical equipment on loan (free of charge) with instructions for proper use. This program enables residents and visitors in Kane County to experience southern Utah’s starry night sky through direct observation of the planets, constellations and more from the comfort of their home or other viewing locations they choose. To arrange for an astronomy equipment loan, visit: https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/discover-the-night-sky/
SVO is working to create and operate a public educational observatory in Kane County, Utah, and generates authoritative weekly sky reports for distribution to five area newspapers, including the Southern Utah News, as well as its website, https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/category/sky-reports/, and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stellarvistaobservatory/