Sky

Visitors looking at the night sky can enjoy overnight accommodations in new yurts that recently opened at Dead Horse Point State Park. [Photo courtesy of Dead Horse Point State Park]

Can you believe humanity put a man on the moon? 

Dead Horse Point State Park is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing on Saturday, July 20, from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

There will be a short talk on dark skies, a constellation tour and deep space object viewing. Two telescopes will be set up, including a 7-inch Maskutov-Cassegrain and a 12-inch Dobsonian, which will allow a greater view of the moon.

Stargazers can meet at the visitor’s center. Plan to bring a chair, warm clothes, bug spray (as needed) and water. 

This is a great event for people who reminisce over when they first heard Walter Cronkite’s deep voice over the radio, or watching the fuzzy black and white video footage on the television while Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon on July 20, 1969.

This event is also an excellent way to introduce children and the younger generation to astronomy, science and space history.  

The main program responsible for getting men to the moon in the 1960s was the Apollo program, amidst many difficulties for several years.

Many will never forget Armstrong’s memorable words, “That’s one small step for man … One giant leap for mankind” as he spoke from the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon’s surface and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests and spoke with President Richard Nixon via Space Center Houston. 

Celebrating the night sky and participating in star parties within the Moab area boasts the significance of astronomy and the night skies, showing how light pollution affects the view of the night skies, human health, wildlife and what can be done about it.

Dead Horse Point State Park was recognized as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, and is one of the most accessible areas to stargaze in the Moab area. The park is located on a high plateau with the city out of sight, and the park provides a spectacular spot to the mysterious night sky above.

“We are the perfect location to come see stars, planets, nebulas, and galaxies,” park ranger Spencer Stokes said. “What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing than learning about astronomy and seeing amazing objects in space?”

Park staff offer a variety of programs celebrating the night sky throughout the year. They also offer programs focused on children who want to learn about the solar system and the night sky with activities. Full moon guided hikes are offered with a park ranger and dogs are welcome with a 6-foot leash. Overcast skies, or other inclement weather, will cause programs to be canceled.

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