August Awe: Lassen Dark Sky Festival

Astronomers and cosmos lovers'll gather at the national park for talks, events, wonder.

Dark Sky Festival

SUMMER SOLSTICE... has a way, perhaps more than any other event on the calendar, of inspiring us to ponder our daytimes and our nighttimes and the dawn and the twilight and high noon and how all of these cosmic patterns intertwine with our day-to-day lives. We think about how we've been enjoying more sunlight in the evenings, but how, when night begins to arrive earlier, we'll like bundling up and finding the wonder in wintry activities (or, at least, the wonder in our beloved pair of thick, slouchy socks and favorite pjs). But there's another occurrence that invites us to ponder day, night, and light, and the universe at large: a dark sky gathering. These festivals pop up in parks and remote spots during the summertime, and fans of astrology, of trees, of science talks, and of being outdoors after dark when the weather is warm, all join in, making for a joyful, constellation-cool, Milky Way-marvelous weekend of big-brain'd, big-idea'd, big-of-spirit doings. And if you know...

LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK, you know that it is, without argument, one of the darkest, starriest places in the state, an ideal spot to go deep into the dome above. The Dark Sky Festival that alights at Lassen every year is coming up, from Friday, Aug. 11 through Sunday, Aug. 13, and you can take a peep at the 2016 schedule to see what might be in store for 2017. Chats about the possibility of life on Mars, cameos from NASA astronomers, the Perseid Meteors, Jupiter, astrobiology, and interstellar ices filled up the 2016 rundown, so you can bet that the coming festival will brim with all manner of nebula-nifty, moon-major topics. Hikes, too, are part of the alfresco to-do, and Junior Ranger Night Explorer programs, too. Are you thinking about day, night, light, and what's up there, and out there, beyond the edges of our earthly sphere? Here's your spectacular stare-up moment, at Lassen Volcanic, over the second weekend of August.

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