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Special festival set for Death Valley

Death Valley National Park will be hosting the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival, March 1-3.

Everyone is invited to attend this free night sky and space science festival, organizers said in a news release announcing the event.

During the day, the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival rangers and scientists will lead guided hikes to explore the extreme environments of Death Valley and the similarities to other places in our solar system.

During the exploration fair at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, visitors can talk to scientists, observe demonstrations, and attend planetarium talks.

Families are also encouraged to attend hands-on space science programs designed specifically for children.

Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will present evening programs highlighting what NASA is learning about other worlds. Astronomer Michelle Thaller will take visitors on an interplanetary park tour on Friday night and explore places beyond earth which might be someday designated as “interplanetary parks.”

Saturday’s evening program, presented by planetary scientist Paul Mahaffy, will highlight the Curiosity rover’s exploration of the conditions to support life on ancient Mars.

Death Valley offers some of the best stargazing in America. The International Dark-Sky Association has designated Death Valley National Park as a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, the highest rating of darkness.

Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, “Visitors to the park are often amazed by the amount of stars they can see here. Some people have never seen the Milky Way before visiting Death Valley.”

Visitors can marvel at the night sky through telescopes on Saturday night with the Riverside Astronomical Society.

Astrophotographers are also invited to meet up for night sky photography in prime park locations.

The event’s partners include the Death Valley Natural History Association, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and others.

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