ARIZONA STATE PARKS: For Immediate Release
Managing and conserving Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our Parks and through our Partners. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Bilbrey at (602) 542-1996 or (602) 228-8518 or Monica Enriquez at (602) 542-6997. Contact by Email: pio(at)azstateparks.gov
(Phoenix, Arizona - March 7, 2014) - Patagonia Lake State Park and Kartchner Caverns State Park will host separate Star Parties on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Families are welcome to come spend an evening and observe the wonders of the night sky through astronomers' telescopes.
The Star Party at Patagonia Lake State Park will start at 7 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Astronomers from the Sonora Astrological Society provides telescopes and will answer questions and discuss the elements of the night sky as darkness descends. Visitors should bring water, snacks, a red light (to protect everyone's night vision), sweater or jacket.
Activities for the Star Party at Kartchner Caverns State Park will start at 2 p.m. and run through the evening. From 2 to 5 p.m., the park will hold the "Afternoon Solar Viewing" where visitors can safely view the sun through a special telescope. At 5:30 p.m., Dr. David O'Brien, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, will present "The Giant Asteroid Vesta: Highlights from NASA's Dawn Mission." NASA's Dawn mission completed its yearlong orbital exploration of the asteroid Vesta at the end of 2012, and is now on its way to its second target, the asteroid Ceres, where it will arrive in 2015. His talk will discuss historical studies of Vesta, its relation to meteorites found on Earth, and the latest results from the Dawn mission's exploration of Vesta. Finally at 6:30 p.m., see planets, stars, comets, galaxies, and more through astronomers' telescopes! Participants should bring a folding chair, red light and sweater or jacket.
Kartchner Caverns State Park's Entrance Fee is $6 per vehicle but is waived with a reservation for a tour. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles south of I-10 near Benson, Arizona. The guided tours inside the cave at Kartchner Caverns are the Rotunda/Throne Room Tour and the Big Room Tour. Both tours are $23 for adults aged 14 and older and $13 for children aged 7 to 13. Children aged 6 and younger are free for the Rotunda/Throne Room but are not allowed in the Big Room. Full hookup camping sites are available at a fee of $25.
Patagonia Lake State Park's Entrance Fee is $10-15 per vehicle (up to four adults). Primitive to full hookup camping sites are available at a fee of $17 to $28 depending on the type of camping site needed. Patagonia Lake State Park is located 7 miles past the town of Patagonia; take I-10 East to Hwy 83 South to Hwy 82.
Arizona State Parks' astronomy program has been in operation for more than five years. The program continues to grow with 10 parks currently participating. Video is available for viewing on our website at AZStateParks.com/find/starparty and gives a good introduction to Star Night activities. Learn more about what to expect and what to bring on this page.
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite or cave tour reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.