Mars in Death Valley: A Celestial Symposium | NBC Southern California
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Mars in Death Valley: A Celestial Symposium

If you're mad for everything Martian, plan to head into space -- er, the desert -- in April.

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    Mars mavens will make for Death Valley National Park for the Celestial Centennial and MarsFest Symposium. It's on from April 8-10, 2016.

    MANY A ROAD TRIPPER... eyes the odometer before pulling out of the driveway, to keep track of the miles covered to the destination in question and back. Regardless, though, of how many miles you drive to Death Valley National Park, it will be fewer miles than the same trip would take to Mars. Granted, there aren't roads to Mars as of this typing -- and the subsequent space restaurants and gas stations one might want to stop at along the way -- but we can all agree that a visit to the earthbound desert-based national park is not going to rival the distance to our second nearest neighbor in the Solar System. The upshot of that is this: When a Mars-themed gathering comes along, and it lands in Death Valley, which just happens to look as though it might be another planet, well, one takes the chance to attend, especially if one doesn't not have the gas cash to cover several millions of miles of pure open space. Toodling up the 15 Freeway is a mite easier, and once you arrive at the Celestial Centennial and MarsFest Symposium, you can count yourself among others who adore the Red Planet and all of its cosmic components. Does this sound up your alley? Would you rather not take the time to build a spaceship between reading this and April 8-10, 2016? Then best plan to reserve a spot at...

    MARSFEST... and enjoy the info-filled three-day festival. Make that a free three-day festival, so yay to that, and make it a festival full of smart people who know much about the star planet of the weekend. It won't all be talk about Mars, however; "(p)articipants will enjoy guided field trips to Death Valley's rugged, otherworldly terrain that serves as researching and testing sites for places on Mars, such as Mars Hills, Ubehebe Crater, and Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America." Telescopes to see the real deal, up in the sky, will also be a part of the fest during the Night Time Expo. And other Mars-velous happenings will dot the space-tastic weekend. But if you want to go, best book your room (Furnace Creek is right there). Lovers of the cosmos will be competing with desert wildflower lovers around early April for stayover spots. And, for sure, there's a lot of crossover there, for if you love wonder on the ground you likely feel wonder about the wider sky.