The Grand Canyon National Park has been working diligently over the past few years to earn a Dark Sky Park Certification. In 2016, the park was awarded a Provisional Dark Sky Park status. This achievement is a huge accomplishment for park staff and provides an incredible night sky experience for visitors of all ages. On nights with a New Moon, the night sky will be shocking. All outdoor lights have been switched from white to amber. The amber light helps to not distract the human eye, and also decreases light pollution emitting from the park. Believe it or not, light pollution can be seen glowing in the distance from Las Vegas, Nevada – over 250 miles away! Some major cities can project so much light pollution, it’s visible from space.
From distant planets to the Milky Way Galaxy, the Grand Canyon is a prime location for night sky enthusiasts of all ages. Some visitors plan their visit around the annual Grand Canyon Star Party. The Star Party occurs over the course of 8 days, usually during the month of June. People from all over the United States travel into the park to set up their personal telescopes at the South Rim Visitor Center. The North Rim, a less visited tourist attraction within the park, sets up their Star Party outside of the lodge. During the eight day long event, visitors will get the chance to peer through a variety of telescopes, while learning from both amateur and professional astrologists. Nightly interpretive programs transform the night sky into a storybook. For thousands of years our ancestors have navigated by the stars, the sky above will come alive with stories and lore from various cultures around the world, including Greek mythology and Navajo folklore.
If you’re planning to maneuver your way around Grand Canyon at night and the moon isn’t full, you’re more than likely going to need a headlamp. It is recommended to use the red light setting, as to not distract you from what’s above.
For more information about IDA, the International Dark-Sky Association, can be found on their website: www.darksky.org.
For more information about the Grand Canyon Star Party, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-star-party.htm