Star Party at a National Park

This summer, I made it a goal of mine to visit Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, USA. I had heard about the cliff dwellers throughout my life and decided it was time to see these buildings in person. It was a spontaneous trip, planned around visits to visit family in New Mexico. I didn’t sign up for any tours ahead of time or try to catch any of their events.

As I entered the park, I started to see signs for an event. I paid for my camping spot and learned that there was a star watching party that night at the park. Bingo! I was excited to have something extra to do during my trip. I set up my camping spot and headed to the star party at dusk.

At the party, the local astronomers taught us how to find certain constellations and even brought telescopes for everyone to look through. As I stood in line waiting for my turn, I gazed at the milky way and was reminded how small we are in the vast universe we live in. It always reminds me of the end of Men In Black, when you realize our galaxy is really located in a set of marbles.

Finally, it was my turn to look through the telescope to see Saturn. It was amazing. I exclaimed “wow! It’s just like in textbooks!” which was a little silly when you think about it. But it really looked like the drawings you see of the planet in textbooks, or in the glow in dark star packs you can put on a ceiling. I was in awe.

If you have never had a chance to really look at stars or planets, you should attend one of these events at a national park. The milky way is beautiful and nothing beats a dark sky speckled with light. You’re staring into the past at a beautiful landscape created many years ago thanks to various gases in our universe. The more beautiful, the more dangerous, but it’s still great fun to witness. Try it sometime. Many of our National Parks are perfect for star gazing.

Photo by Elaine Casap

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