International Dark-Sky Week is just months away, and this year, with renewed interest in low-impact and socially-distanced travel, a celebration of stargazing is as popular as ever before.
The Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association hosts the annual week-long celebration, and in 2021, it is scheduled for April 5 – 12, 2021.
During the week, the IDA invites virtual visitors to engage with authors, educators, artists, and scientists from around the world who are excited to share their passion for astronomy, our cultural connection to the stars, life in the dark, and how we can work together to protect the night.
More information on IDA’s week-long programs is available here.
Celebrate International Dark-Sky Week in Colorado
Take a star-focused Colorado road trip during International Dark-Sky Week by checking out the locations on Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night.
Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night connects seven Colorado locations known for their dark skies and incredible stargazing opportunities.
Discover this tour at colorado.com/coloradostargazing.
Not only does the Colorado.com webpage offer a map and a brief description of each location included in the experience, but it also offers the best places to see the stars, stargazing events, and top daytime attractions.
Among the locations, visitors will find International Dark-Sky Association Designated Communities, areas just starting the designation process, and everything in between. All of these communities are unified by their high elevation and low humidity, allowing for some of the best stargazing in the world. The locations included in the experience are Westcliffe/Silver Cliff, Creede, Crestone, La Veta, Cuchara, Lake City, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The Colorado Tourism Office also awarded the Outstanding Marketing Program Award at the 2020 Governor’s Tourism Conference to Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night.
While on the tour, some special locations to check out include:
Southern Colorado Astronomical Park – La Veta
Just one mile west of La Veta is the Southern Colorado Astronomical Park, a crossroads of ancient and modern astronomy, including a stone calendar and two observatory structures. The land on which the park sits was donated to the Southern Colorado Astronomical Society for the purposes of education, research, and enjoyment by all.
Here, you can gaze upon the stars much like ancient astronomers did several thousand years ago or take a more modern approach by viewing Spanish Peaks Country’s phenomenal dark skies through a telescope.
Private Star Parties at Smokey Jack Observatory
You can now make your reservations for a private star party at the Smokey Jack Observatory for 2021! Don’t delay because the spaces will fill quickly. To make your reservations go to:
For 2021, reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to a maximum of 6 people per group. Larger groups will need to contact me directly by leaving a voice message at 719-398-1284 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Face masks will be required for everyone who participates in the observation session, even if you have been vaccinated. Please note that plastic shields won’t work to look through a telescope eyepiece. Unfortunately, this year, due to COVID-19, there will be no public star parties. Instead, we will have virtual star parties via our Facebook page. The dates for these events are on our website at https://www.darkskiescolorado.org/events and will be also be announced on our Facebook page, “Dark Skies Colorado”.
The Tallest Dunes in North America at the Great Sand Dunes National Park
See the stars from the tallest dunes in North America. Star Dune rises 750 feet from its base to its crest. The “High Dune” on the first ridge rises 699 feet from its base, but because it starts on higher ground, its crest is higher above sea level than that of Star Dune. The highest dunes in elevation above sea level in the park are those closest to the mountains on the eastern edge of the main dunefield.
Slumgullion Discovery Center
The Slumgullion Discovery Center is a 58-acre park just outside Lake City that won IDA designation in September 2020.