Supporting Dark Sky Base Camp at Cedar Breaks
At last year’s Southwest Astronomy Festival, 10-year-old Matthew asked a Cedar Breaks-trained Master Astronomer, “Can I really see the REAL Saturn through your telescope?” Chuckling, the astronomer told Matthew to climb a step stool, peer into the eyepiece of his telescope, and promised, “Let’s show you Saturn!”
Similar interactions happen every weekend at Cedar Breaks Summer Star Parties, an event voted the “Best National Park Night Experience” by USA Today. Over the last three years, Cedar Breaks Dark Sky Rangers have trained and certified 45 community members as Master Astronomers. Together, Rangers and Master Astronomers have dedicated more than 1200 hours doing outreach with children (and adults) in classrooms, at special events, and at various times in Cedar Breaks.
This outreach and programming is made possible through Forever Project Field Guide supporters. Within the National Park Service and across the region, Cedar Breaks is setting a new standard for Dark Sky preservation and education. More than 3000 individuals and families experienced the community-based Southwest Astronomy Festival thanks to funds from the 2018 Field Guide. By means of Field Guide backing this year, 11 libraries in Washington and Iron counties were gifted telescopes, making the night skies of Southern Utah accessible to every child with a library card. And with long waiting lists, Field Guide-funded telescopes are entering 500 homes each year.
In 2020, Cedar Breaks Dark Sky Rangers hope to continue informing tomorrow by deepening engagement and Dark Sky connections with local communities and global guests. This gift supports the Dark Sky Base Camp through the Telescope Lending Library, expands outreach at the Southwest Astronomy Festival, trains an additional twenty Master Astronomers, and allows Cedar Breaks to deliver “Train the Trainer” workshops for partners interested in starting their own Master Astronomer programs.