Designation Of Chaco Culture National Historical Park As International Dark Sky Park

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Night skies over the Great House at Chaco Culture National Historical Park/NPS

A day-long celebration will be held Thursday to mark Chaco Culture National Historical Park's designation as an International Dark Sky Park.

As a bonus, the celebration comes during “International Dark Sky Week.”

The greater Chaco landscape is one of the last, best places in the United States for viewing the night sky. Park visitors have a rare opportunity to view the stars as native people did more than a thousand years ago.

The national park received the designation thanks to the quality of its nighttime views as well as the National Park Service’s commitment to reducing light pollution and public outreach programs. In fact, thousands of visitors and student groups enjoy the Chaco Observatory and nighttime viewing each year.

While the designation was made last fall, the National Park Service had to cancel the official ceremony because of the government shutdown which led to the closing of Chaco Culture NHP and other national parks across the United States.

Here's Thursday's schedule of events:

10:00 am (1.5 hours) Guided walk through Chetro Ketl

11:00 am (1 hour) "Astronomy & the Solar System" David Frizzell

2:00 pm International Dark Sky Park Dedication

3:00 pm Book signing by Dr. Tyler Nordgren

3:30 pm (1 hour) "Astronomy and the Deep Sky" David Frizzell

5:00 pm (1.5 hours) Guided walk through Pueblo Bonito

8:00 pm (1 hour) "Stars Above, Earth Below, Astronomy in the National Parks" Dr. Tyler Nordgren

9:00 pm – Star Party Constellation tour followed by telescope viewing