Star Party Astronomy Events
Observe the Wonders of the Night Sky!
Many Arizona state parks host fun, educational star parties or astronomy events! Our astronomy program has been in operation since 2007 and continues to grow. At a typical star party, you can learn about what you'll be viewing in the night sky (often from a guest presenter), and then take a look for yourself at celestial objects (planets, nebulas, stars) through a variety of telescopes provided by our partners. Some events have information tables and afternoon solar viewings as well. These events are supported by Arizona astronomy clubs and individuals who invite the public to come see Arizona's amazing night skies. Watch our video below, which gives a good introduction to star night activities. Learn more about what to expect and what to bring when you attend a party or head out to one of our parks to view the skies on your own.
Intro to Star Parties Video
Starstruck by Arizona's Dark Skies
Sitting under the stillness of a pitch-black sky, illuminated only by celestial bodies, brings a sense of peace and wonder that everyone should get to experience.
Conserving our dark skies is important on many levels, from human health, to the preservation of wildlife habitat and migration, to energy conservation, and more! Amateur astronomer, International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) member, and former chair of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee, Michael Weasner, joined Arizona State Parks on our podcast to bring you an episode dedicated to Arizona's dark skies, below.
Read about Oracle State Park's IDA designation and watch a special by Arizona Public Media on Mike and his astronomy work HERE. Find Mike's autobiography and stay up to date with Mike's work, including his astrophotography, at weasner.com.
There's no better way to experience Arizona's dark skies firsthand than to enjoy a Star Party!
Night Sky Time-Lapse at Oracle SP
Mike Weasner of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee has created a time-lapse film of the dark skies at the park. You can watch two hours of the night sky passing by in 11 seconds. There is no audio track to this piece.
What's a Dark Sky Park?
The International Dark Sky Association has designated two Arizona state parks as Dark Sky Parks: Oracle State Park and Kartchner Caverns State Park. Through the application process, these two parks demonstrated that they have an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nighttime environment that we protect for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. Conserving the dark skies in these parks is important to our agency and the surrounding communities, and it helps to promote safe, eco-tourism within our state. We also think it makes a great backdrop to camping at our parks! You can learn more about what it takes to be designated by visiting the International Dark Sky Association website.