Between April 15 and 22, people around the world who recognize the many values of natural darkness will participate in an annual worldwide event. According the the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), home lighting assessments, activities for kids and families, actions to protect the night sky by reducing light pollution and star parties are just some of the ways folks gather to appreciate what natural darkness does for our quality of life, and for wildlife too!
Here in Kanab, Utah, join Stellar Vista Observatory’s local area astronomy buffs for a free star party to witness the beauty of the spring sky on Sunday, April 23, 2023, beginning at 8:30 PM at Zion View Star Field. Visit https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/category/star-parties/ for directions, information and updates. Bonus: the Lyrids meteor shower peaks on the night of April 23 as well!
The Winter Hexagon, also known as the Winter Circle, is a prominent winter asterism formed by seven stars that dominate the northern winter sky. These bright stars, in their respective constellations are: Rigel in Orion, Aldebaran in Taurus, Capella in Auriga, Castor and Pollux in Gemini, Procyon in Canis Minor, and Sirius in Canis Major. On this night, Mars, Venus and the moon will be inside the circle, making a lovely array of interesting celestial objects to observe.
Why is it important to recognize International Dark Sky Week? To put it bluntly, because a universally loved aspect of our common heritage is at risk of disappearing and we mustn’t let that happen. Visit https://idsw.darksky.org/#take-action for ways you can get involved and make a difference.
Also check out Utah Governor Cox’ 2023 Declaration of April as Utah Dark Sky Month.
Did you know that light pollution is increasing worldwide at twice the rate of global population growth? According to IDA, the foremost organization working worldwide to preserve natural darkness, “Eight out of ten people live under a light-polluted night sky, at least three billion dollars is wasted on outdoor lighting each year in the US, and virtually every species studied has been harmed by light pollution.“ Yet the solutions to reversing these trends are easy. By following five simple principles, you can help protect nocturnal wildlife, be a good neighbor, and preserve the night sky.
These are IDA’s fundamentals for responsible outdoor lighting:
- USEFUL – All light should have a clear purpose.
- TARGETED – Light should be directed only to where needed.
- LOW LIGHT LEVELS – Light should be no brighter than necessary.
- CONTROLLED – Light should be used only when it is useful.
- COLOR – Use warmer color lights where possible.
By not allowing your lights to shine upward, you’ll save real money on your electric bill, and your neighbors will thank you! After all, who doesn’t give a hoot if they can see the stars from their front or back yard? If you haven’t looked up lately, remember, you can discover the night right from your home. On a clear night, go outside and take a picture of the night sky from your neighborhood, then share it on your social media feed with hashtag #DiscovertheNight. And come on out for SVO’s next public star party in Kanab. Connect with others near you and share your passion for a star studded sky!
DIRECTIONS FROM KANAB TO “ZION VIEW” STAR FIELD
SVO’s “Zion View” star field is located on BLM land at the west end of old Hwy. 89, 13 miles north of Kanab, near the 6100-foot summit and Diana’s Throne. The site is at the opposite end of a six-mile improved dirt road from BLM’s Peekaboo Trailhead. You’ll see the Peekaboo sign posted on Hwy 89 just north of the upper entrance to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the intersection of Hancock Road and US 89. (The aforementioned improved dirt road is the old Hwy. 89 running parallel to the paved highway)
Traveling on US 89 North from Kanab, look for a small sign marking the “6100 Foot Summit”, the high point between Kanab and Mt. Carmel Jct. Proceed one tenth mile or so and make the next right turn onto a hard packed dirt road that crosses a cattle guard and leads to the star field location, also in less than a tenth mile. When you see the 6100 Summit sign, start to slow down, use your turning signal and look for a narrow road on your right. If you start down the grade toward Mt. Carmel Junction on the highway, you missed the turn. The site affords a wonderfully dark location for sky watching!
An alternative way to get there is to turn off US Hwy 89 at Peekaboo Trailhead, and follow the dirt road for six miles up and over the grade to its opposite end. When you reach the star field, drive slowly to avoid creating dust. No services are available at this location.