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WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!"

Observing and enjoying the night sky is why you came to us in the first place. We work hard to give you a fun program so you can take home wonderful memories and skills to become stargazers on your own. The weather is the first and most challenging factor in providing a great night for you. Clouds are the natural enemies of astronomers in the visible spectrum, where we observe the sky.

STARGAZING IN ZION

Clear + Transparent

A short .5-mile hike, the Canyon Overlook Trail provides impressive views of the sun setting on the beautiful and high walls of the surrounding canyon. Take in the view as you wait for darkness, approximately an hour after sunset. An abundance of stars provides a beautiful backdrop to the 2,000ft sandstone cliffs.

Rainy + Thick Clouds

Those who make the drive to the western part of Zion will be rewarded with the stark landscape and beautiful skies of the Kolob Canyons. A less-traveled part of the park, you're sure to find solace in the stars by driving up Kolob Terrace Rd. Multiple pull-offs along this windy, paved road provide a plethora of opportunities to settle in and watch the sky become one of Zion's greatest treasures.

Borderline

Driving and hiking not your thing? The Pa'rus trail, located right in the town of Springdale next to the visitors’ center, is an easily accessed opportunity to take in the spectacle of Zion's dark skies. Springdale is a dark sky community, and the stars right in town are the perfect fix for those looking for a quick, easy view. Follow this paved, dog and stroller-friendly path as short or long as you like and enjoy Zion at night!

WHAT CAN I SEE?

Zion National Park and the adjacent town of Springdale recently received their Dark Sky Park and Community international certification. Protecting and preserving the night sky for future generations is taken seriously in southern Utah, with many efforts to manage artificial light. Zion and the surrounding areas offer ample opportunities for taking in these world-renowned dark skies. We've made a list of our favorite stargazing locations so you and your family can take in the full Zion experience.

 

Locations:

 

Canyon Overlook Trail

A short .5-mile hike, the Canyon Overlook Trail provides impressive views of the sun setting on the beautiful and high walls of the surrounding canyon. Take in the view as you wait for darkness, approximately an hour after sunset. An abundance of stars provides a beautiful backdrop to the 2,000ft sandstone cliffs.

 

Kolob Canyons

Those who make the drive to the western part of Zion will be rewarded with the stark landscape and beautiful skies of the Kolob Canyons. A less-traveled part of the park, you're sure to find solace in the stars by driving up Kolob Terrace Rd. Multiple pull-offs along this windy, paved road provide a plethora of opportunities to settle in and watch the sky become one of Zion's greatest treasures.

 

Pa'rus Trail

Driving and hiking not your thing? The Pa'rus trail, located right in the town of Springdale next to the visitors’ center, is an easily accessed opportunity to take in the spectacle of Zion's dark skies. Springdale is a dark sky community, and the stars right in town are the perfect fix for those looking for a quick, easy view. Follow this paved, dog and stroller-friendly path as short or long as you like and enjoy Zion at night!

 

Please use the changes I made above for the sections below.

What can I see?

As the earth makes its 365.25 day journey around our closest star, different objects in the sky become visible at different times of the year. Take a look at our list of astronomical objects. 

 

Summer

Summer, aka Milky Way Season, is the best time to peer into our home galaxy. The center of the Milky Way is located in the direction of the zodiac constellation Sagittarius. The beautiful constellation of Scorpio is also up in the summertime. It is one of the most amazing of the zodiac constellations, and provides an easily-seen collection of stars resembling one of Zion's native creatures.

 

Fall

The largest planets in our solar system have been making a stand in the autumn sky. Catch Jupiter and Saturn shining brightly in the southern sky all season. Saturn, a little fainter, can be spotted near Capricorn, making its way into Aquarius. The 4th brightest object in the sky after the Sun, Moon, and Venus, Jupiter can't be missed, currently hanging out in Ares and slowly making its way towards Taurus. Although lower in the sky and less defined, the Milky Way band can still be seen on moonless nights in early fall. 

 

Winter

Saturn and Jupiter are up and shining brightly throughout winter. Saturn will be slipping close to the western horizon by season's end, not to be seen again in the evening for 6 months. Although colder, sky conditions are optimal for astronomical observing at this time of year when less moisture hangs in the atmosphere. Orion the hunter is striking throughout the winter. Look for his belt high in the southern sky and just below it, his sword, where the famed Orion Nebula is located.

 

Spring

With spring comes the galaxy season. Although the Milky Way band isn't visible at this time, many other galaxies are available to observe in binoculars or a small telescope. Look towards the constellation of Virgo, high in the southern sky, to find many of these, located in what's called the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies.

 

*Accurate for evening stargazing, 2-3 hours after sunset.

With increasing development on our planet, night skies like those found in Zion are becoming increasingly rare. The vast majority of Americans have never seen the Milky Way, with over 80% of people living in an area with too much light pollution to clearly see the striking band. Darker skies can be easily achieved with just a little effort. Turn off your lights, use softer bulbs, and encourage others to do the same.

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