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DV National Park co-hosts astronomy nights

Death Valley, Calif. — Death Valley National Park and the Las Vegas Astronomical Society (LVAS) will co-host astronomy nights Oct. 4 and 5. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening at the Furnace Creek Airport, reached by exiting California Highway 190 at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and driving west one-half mile. Carpooling is strongly encouraged due to limited parking.

The program will consist of an informative “Tonight’s Sky” tour to orient participants to what is visible with the naked eye each night at 8 p.m. The LVAS will point out constellations and explain celestial phenomena in easy to understand language. Participants may also view features of the night sky up close through high-powered telescopes guided by National Park Service (NPS) park rangers and LVAS members. A daytime component of this event will be opportunities to view the sun through a solar telescope from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Furnace Creek Ranch on Saturday. Families are welcome.

To keep the site as dark as possible and improve the viewing conditions, the airport road will be closed from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors who arrive after 7:30 p.m., or after the airport parking lot is full, will be directed to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center they can view the night sky with park rangers equipped with laser pointers and a telescope, or they can choose to walk to the airport. Please bring a flashlight and wear closed-toed shoes.

“At Death Valley the sky literally begins at your feet,” said Tyler Nordgren, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Redlands California and International Dark-Sky Association board member. “When my students and I look up at night from our southern California campus, we can usually count 12 stars in the sky. However, less than a five-hour drive from Los Angeles there’s a place where anyone can look up and see the universe the way everyone could 100 years ago.”

For additional information about this event, contact Death Valley National Park at 760-786-3200 or deva_information@nps.gov.

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