Coordinated by resident astronomy buff (and "Dark Ranger") Kevin Poe, the festival hosts a variety of programs and presentations, few more popular than the nightly stargazing event (start time: 10 p.m.) hosted by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, Utah's largest league of amateur astronomers. The group will fill one of Bryce's parking lots with as many as 50 large telescopes and offer "constellation tours" of what's visible in the night sky above Bryce, where on moonless nights up to 7,500 stars are believed to be visible.
Other daily festival events include:
• Daytime workshops for model rocket building and launching.
• Planisphere practice sessions.
• Various visitor center and amphitheater presentations.
The park also hosts periodic solar viewing events and full moon hikes through December. Another good skywatching event schedule for late summer: the Acadia Night Sky Festival Sept. 9-13 at Acadia National Park.
I have never been to Acadia, but I know Bryce has a terrific night sky. The sky over Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas wowed me with incredible star density one moonless night in November years ago. Ditto for Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui. Where's your favorite place to stargaze?
About the photo: The image shown is the Medusa Nebula, also known as Abell 21. It is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini, estimated to be more than 4 light-years across. It is one of hundreds of images available at the Astronomy Picture of the Day, made available by NASA.