Velvety Heavens: Lassen Dark Sky Fest

Retreat to one of the low-light-iest corners of the state. Then gaze up.

GLOW STARS: When pressing those wee plastic stars onto your ceiling, the kind that let off a gentle glow when the light switch is moved to "off," do you generally go for constellation-like patterns? Or is sort of a giant starfield more your bag, at least when it comes to your bedroom ceiling? It is one of the only ways we humans get to control the stars, at least the faux stars in our immediate environment. But we do have some control when comes to our cosmic show and all of those distant heavenly bodies, at least in a different sense. We can choose how we see real stars, and where we see them, and, as importantly, under what conditions. Choose a brightly lit street and you may discern only Sirius or Vega, but venture out to a truly light-free situation, or nearly light-free, and you're bound to behold the full sweep of the Milky Way. That's one of the purposes at the heart of the Dark Sky Festivals: Give people a chance to connect with the cosmos in a truly whole and deep way, via a setting that is devoid of street lamps and other major sources of illumination. One is on the way for...

LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK... from Friday, Aug. 12 through Sunday, Aug. 14, and the nighttime action will be very much about peering into the universe. You'll mingle among "park rangers, astronomers, and planetary geologists" for a weekend full of science facts, stargazing wonder, and hobnobbing with those devoted to nature and knowing our sky in the way our ancestors did, long ago. There shall be astronomy to-dos aplenty, like solar scope viewing, but if you want to hang out and look up, much like you do at the stars on your bedroom ceiling, why that is 100% cool, too. As cool as the cosmos, which we earthlings should pause and enjoy now and then. A Dark Sky Festival is a primo, poetic way to do just that.

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