Twinkle, Twinkle at the Joshua Tree Night Sky Festival

Commune with the Milky Way and various planets just before autumn begins.

DIVING INTO THE MILKY WAY? Most days, we're struggling to simply pinpoint where the dense and creamy overhead band of galactic wonder is in the sky we're observing. And there's no need to parse words on why that is, though parse, we'll try: Attempts to soak up our galaxy's glory can be rather stulted when performed in a city. That's because loads of lights compete for our eyeballs, making the Milky Way a distant and hazy phenomenon, rather less than its usual spectacular self. But there is a place where Milky-Way-ing is magnificent, and not overly illuminated in the least: Joshua Tree National Park. And while you can JTNP-it-up at any time, if you're feeling an astronomical pull, there is a date to keep in mind. It is...

SEPT. 21, 2019, which is when the Joshua Tree National Park Night Sky Festival will flower like so many blossom-y cacti.  The "all-day event includes activities for all ages," including a guided walk, an astronomy lecture, tables brimming with educational materials, and more. The place to be? It's the Sky's the Limit Observatory & Nature Center, which you can find near the north entrance of the national park (just beyond the entrance, so outside of the park). And while the Night Sky Star Party will be the ultimate place to be — there will be, after all, some 20 telescopes to peer through — consider stopping by the solar telescope which, of course, will be set up for daytime viewing.

TICKETS... may be found here. The Night Sky Star Party admission is $50 for adults, $35 for youths ages 6 to 12. Some of the happenings, like The Exploration of Mars — Past, Present, and Future presentation are free, so go over the whole list while planning your desert-based diversion. And while Sept. 21 isn't quite the first day of fall (that's happening two days later in 2019, on Sept. 23), consider this JT jaunt to be a perfect way to send off summer. Plus? You'll be able to commune with the Milky Way, if it has been too long. Find all you need to know here, galactic travelers, for this cosmic route to the Milky Way, the Mojave, and the mysteries of the universe.

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