Arches to celebrate dark sky recognition

Ceremony, star party planned

The Windows section of Arches National Park photographed at night in 2013. Park officials invite the public to attend a celebration regarding Arches’ certification as an International Dark Sky Park starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Photo courtesy of Neal Herbert/NPS/Wikimedia Commons

The public is invited to celebrate Arches National Park’s certification as an International Dark Sky park Saturday evening, Sept. 21. Park rangers and partners from around the Colorado Plateau will host a ceremony and star party at the newly completed Panorama Point stargazing area, according to an email from the Southeast Utah Group of national parks.

Rangers will offer talks, constellation tours, and telescope viewing. A park store, operated by Canyonlands Natural History Association, will be open with special items created for the event. Those planning to attend should park at Arches Visitor Center, where shuttles will take them to the stargazing location. Shuttles will begin driving from the visitor center at 6 p.m. If parking fills at the visitor center, rangers will direct visitors to another telescope viewing location in the park, according to the Park Service.

Toilets are available at Panorama Point, but there is no running water. People should be prepared with snacks and water, a camp chair, and warm clothing. Rangers also recommend bringing a red flashlight to protect everyone’s night vision. The star party will wrap up at 11 p.m., when the last shuttle leaves the viewpoint, according to park officials.

This event is presented in partnership with Canyonlands Natural History Association, Friends of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and the Moab Festival of Science.

Arches is one of four parks included in the National Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group. The other parks – Canyonlands National Park, and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments – have all received International Dark Sky Park certifications in recent years.

Natural Bridges National Monument was certified as the world’s first International Dark Sky park in 2007. All four parks work together with neighboring organizations, businesses, communities, and land managers to showcase some of the darkest skies in the United States, according to NPS.

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education.