Dark Sky Festival

Starry Dark Skies Are the Stars in Death Valley

Telescopes, uncapped: The Dark Sky Festival returns to the light-low national park, all to connect us with the cosmos.

Mlenny

What to Know

  • Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park
  • Feb. 25-27, 2022
  • Daytime and evening programs, including sessions devoted to astrophotography, will be available

DOMES? We humans are prone to turning our faces upwards, and emitting all sorts of sounds involving "ooh" and "aah," whenever we step inside a building that is famous for housing a rather magnificent inverted bowl, the sort of structural feature that often boasts architectural flourishes or amazing frescoes. And while the domes created by talented people deserve every exclamation that rings out from admirers down below, there is a dome we can access nightly, and it is a sight most worthy of any "ooh" and "aah" we want to send in its spectacular direction: It is the evening sky, the biggest of domes, and certainly the one with the grandest depth of field, the strangest details, and the ability to astound with its eons-spanning awesomeness.

DARK SKY FESTIVALS... regularly celebrate this wondrous spread above our heads, by venturing to places where artificial light is low and the propensity for amazement is high. That's happening in Death Valley National Park, at Furnace Creek, over the final weekend of February 2022. The lunar-like location is a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, a designation bestowed upon the park by the august International Dark-Sky Association, and it regularly draws astronofans from points all over and their trusty telescopes. Plenty of astronomy buffs will call upon the area from Feb. 25 through 27, for talks that range from "Taking Pictures on Mars" and "Astrophotography in Our National Parks & Public Lands." There are also ranger-led events, and the chance to peek up, up, up, and into the shimmerful space that surrounds us, and everything, during "Stargazing With Telescopes" at the Furnace Creek Overflow Parking Lot.

THESE COSMIC CONVENTIONS... have bloomed across the Golden State in recent years, popping up at some of our more remotest national parks. Death Valley's wintertime rhapsody offers a nice desert dimension for devotees of the dark sky celebrations, not to mention that it can, at times, feel as though you're visiting another planet (something that's always true in Death Valley, be it night or day). Certainly this is a bonus, and a zingy sensation to experience, when you're attending a gathering centered on reveling in our velvety and vast universe.

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