Cosmic: Death Valley Star Celebration

Admire the wider universe from this desert-based winter must-do.

CONSTELLATION NAMES, and the other handles we've applied to various stars and nebulae and other features of the wide, sky-filling universe, are as mellifluous as poetry and meaningful on a mythic scale. Cassiopeia, The Big Dipper, Canis Major, Orion, and Gemini are just a few of the twinkling icons we're apt to see in the colder months around here, the figures of the canopy-cool sky show we look forward to when the air grows brisker. But there is a place where the names on the ground are also quite poetic, and meaningful, and rife with history, and it is extremely solid in the star-watching sense, too. It's Death Valley National Park, which is home to Dante's Canyon and Badwater Basin and Twenty Mule Team Canyon and The Racetrack and a load of other locales that sound so fantastical that they could be fictional (and yet they are most definitely real). The desert-lovely destination, with its marvelously monikered points of interest, is an excellent place to take in the also interestingly named constellations above us. And fans will once again do so, over the...

LAST WEEKEND IN JANUARY... in 2017. The Furnace Creek gathering will once again boast a host of knowledgeable sky-studiers from the Las Vegas Astronomical Society as well as the Astronomical Society from Ventura County. That means your questions will be answered by pros, so be sure to ask why some stars look a bit bluer and other stars seem to stay flat (instead of doing that classic twinkly thing). It's a beautiful night out in a very low-lit environment, one that can feel quite lunar, all in all, and the telescopes only enhance the experience. So what has the most memorable names, the epic-of-terrain Death Valley or the vast cosmic display over our heads? Both have their utterly awesome aspects, and both complement each other nicely over the course of a star-loving, telescopes-pointed-up sort of night. Details on the Jan. 27 and 28 gathering? Watch this... space.

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