Monday, Aug 19, 2013
Participation in Lassen’s second annual Dark Sky Festival was out of this world! More than 4,200 visitors attended the three-day festival from August 9 through 11. Lassen’s Dark Sky Festival celebrates one of the park’s most spectacular and often overlooked resources – it’s incredible, dark night sky. Free activities including a NASA astrobiology information booth, hands-on astronomy activities, solar scope viewing, and special guest presentations supplemented night sky viewing events at locations throughout the park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park partners and volunteers were fundamental to the success of this year’s festival. Twenty-six volunteers donated over 300 hours helping park visitors to discover that Half the Park Is After Dark. Scientists and staff members from the NASA Ames Institute spread the word about astrobiology in the park and led discussions on the link between Lassen’s hydrothermal areas and research on Mars. Amateur astronomers from the Astronomical Society of Nevada provided visitors with an opportunity to get an up-close view of stellar objects both day and night at one of the darkest areas of the park.
A wide-variety of events located throughout the park helped visitors to discover the importance of preserving Lassen’s dark night sky. Volunteers from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, International Dark Sky Association, Astronomical Society of San Mateo County, and Red Bluff company Star Chaserz offered programs, information, and opportunities for stargazers to discover the wonders of a dark night sky.
Excellent viewing conditions, a stunning meteor shower, and pronounced appreciation for a threatened resource combined to make this year’s festival truly unforgettable. Shouts of exuberance were heard at stargazing programs as children and adults gleefully experienced bright shooting stars streak across a pitch black canvas. For many, it was the first time they had ever witnessed such a beautiful sight.
This year’s Dark Sky Festival was made possible with support from the Lassen Association, NASA, International Dark Sky Association, Astronomical Society of Nevada, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, park volunteers, staff, and visitors. These generous contributions create memories that will last a lifetime and increase awareness of a resource and experience that is truly paramount to life on Earth.