Dark Sky, Death Valley: A Fall Star Gathering

Gaze deeply into the Milky Way from a silent national park.

THAT QUIET COMMUNION: The weekend before Halloween night is a funny one. Many people are in costumes, elaborate costumes, despite the fact that Oct. 31 is still days away, and the party scene? It is rip-roarin', to say the least. In fact, when Halloween falls on a weekday, the Saturday before seems to step up and take on the mantle of Day with the Wildest, Wackiest Parties. Some people dig this, and plan all year long, but others are looking for a different after-dark experience, one that involves silence, or near silence, and deep gazing into the cosmos, and a quiet communion with land and sky. Call it Halloween's Opposite, but with a definite dose of mystery and wonder, and call Death Valley the place to be. That's a bit Halloween-y though, right? A Death Valley sojourn ahead of Halloween? No costumes are required, though jackets surely will be, when you make for the Death Valley Fall Star Party in Partnership with the Las Vegas Astronomical Society, which'll spread out at the Ranch at Furnace Creek on Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25.

SPECIAL DESIGNATION: You may correctly think to yourself "oh, Death Valley, there'll be a lot of prime Milky Way action overhead," and you'd be right, but that's not the half of it; the national park was designated as "the largest international dark sky park" in 2013 by the International Dark-Sky Association. This is nothing to sniff at, considering how fast our world is becoming lit-up after sundown, and how eagerly those who want a full-on starry sky experience are seeking spots lacking in nighttime light.

DARK SKY FESTS: National parks from here to somewhere far from here are starting to host Dark Sky parties, if communing with the quiet and low-light of space intrigues. Sequoia National Park held on earlier this year, as did Lassen Volcanic; both were well-attended. Could quiet, cold, and the night sky become all the rage soon? Even if you spend that Saturday-before-Halloween partying it up in the city, the sky is still overhead, to be enjoyed/pondered.

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