Grand Teton National Park Will Celebrate National Astronomy Day on Aug. 3

At times it can appear as if the Big Dipper is balancing atop the Tetons in Grand Teton National Park. NPS photo by Ranger Bob Hoyle.

If you've been lucky enough to visit Grand Teton National Park, you know how sparkling clear the skies can be at night. If you're lucky enough to visit Grand Teton this coming Sunday, you'll be able to take a close-up look at the celestial wonders overhead. That's because the park will be celebrating National Astronomy Day on August 3, and with help from the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club will be offering visitors a view of the heavens.

Several family-oriented activities are planned, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about star-gazing, meteor showers, sunspots, star clusters, galaxies and much more. The special event, titled “Astronomy under the Tetons,” will begin at 2 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center in Grand Teton and end with late-night star-gazing session on the nearby shore of Jackson Lake.

To recognize National Astronomy Day, solar-filtered telescopes will be available to view sunspots from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Throughout the afternoon, exhibits and information tables will also be set up, providing fun and interesting information to children and adults alike.

Beginning at 9 in the evening, Park Ranger Naturalist Bob Hoyle will present a PowerPoint program at the Colter Bay Amphitheater; this educational program focuses on American Indian use of the sky and its celestial bodies, and includes incredible images of stars and other astronomical objects. As a finale, high-powered telescopes will be set up at 10 p.m. along the shore of Colter Bay for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulas and other cosmic phenomena.

Anyone planning to attend the evening program and telescope observation session should dress warmly as evening temperatures at Colter Bay can be quite chilly even in July.

For those who would like to learn more about “Astronomy under the Tetons,” please call either the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307-739-3594 or Jackson Hole Astronomy Club President Walt Farmer at 307-733-2173. Information is also available on Walt Farmer’s web site.