Across the world, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to see the shimmering glow of a night sky. So much so, that an estimated 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way as a result of artificial light obscuring humanity’s view of the stars, according to a 2016 study from Science Advances.
To keep the wonder of what’s above alive, the Shenandoah National Park is hosting its Night Sky Festival for the fourth year in a row. Due to its high elevation and distance from urban areas, Shenandoah is an ideal location for stargazing on the East Coast, giving visitors the chance to see just how dark (but bright with stars!) our skies can be.
From Friday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 11, park rangers and staff will be hosting a series of outdoor events that are as educational as they are entertaining.
This year, guests can expect several lectures by qualified presenters like park rangers, amateur astronomers, astronauts and even an employee from NASA who will discuss the latest missions to the moon. Other topics of note include discussions on our connection to the cosmos, light pollution, recent discoveries in space, technology’s impact on the dark skies and much more.
Plus, this year’s event includes various hands-on activities and demonstrations, including stargazing through telescopes, the creation of your own constellation and a virtual spaceflight led by Tom Jones, a veteran of four space shuttle missions.
If you plan on attending one of the many outdoor evening activities, park staff recommends preparing by bringing a flashlight with a red filter, dressing for cooler weather and supplying your own seats or blankets for stargazing. For the entire schedule of this year’s event, or to check on inclement weather updates, visit the National Park Services site.
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