Over 1600 visitors attended Great Basin National Park’s third annual astronomy festival over a three-day period in mid-June.
The park conducted many daytime and nighttime astronomy related events to celebrate and call attention to the need to protect its world class dark skies. Events included solar viewing, basic astronomy courses, kid’s programs, and ended each night with stargazing through 20 telescopes.
A ranger talent show, during which park rangers showcase their talents to a night sky theme, kicked off the festival. It’s become one of the festival’s most popular events and an annual tradition.
Dr. Paul Bogard, the author of the forthcoming book The Loss of Night: Discovering Darkness in an Age of Light, was this year’s keynote speaker. Bogard spoke of the importance of night sky protection and how advocacy and testament works to further education of the importance of the night sky to people’s spiritual and physical needs.
The park also held a screening of the award winning film, The City Dark, which chronicles the disappearance of darkness: “Posing a deceptively simple question—‘What do we lose, when we lose the night? ‘ —the film leads viewers on a quest to understand how light pollution affects people and the planet.”
This year’s festival was generously supported by the National Parks Conservation Association, Salt Lake Astronomy Society, Las Vegas Astronomy Society, and volunteer astronomers from near and far. The park has scheduled its fourth annual Astronomy Festival for July 11-13, 2013.