Kanab’s 2019 Amazing Earthfest to Host Five Star Parties, May 11-17

By Rich Csenge, Festival Director

A cool secret is getting out – Kanab, Utah, enjoys exceptional natural nighttime darkness, which makes this historic, rural, southern Utah community a perfect base camp for amateur astronomers! To safeguard this uncommon natural resource, the City has moved to preserve the clarity of its night sky by enacting a comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinance that among other things, requires shielding, limits brightness, and specifies warm color for exterior light. That’s quite rare, and distinguishes Kanab as one of just three communities in Utah that have officially enacted outdoor lighting measures to safeguard residents’ view of their starry nights. The 2019 Amazing Earthfest in Kanab celebrates southern Utah’s starry night skies!

An irregular geographic region encompassing portions of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico known as the Colorado Plateau [see image] is one of the darkest regions of the American West. Just inside the Northwest edge of this eco-region is the small city of Kanab, Utah, a community where, in parts of the city, you can see thousands of shimmering stars in a deep, indigo sky! Visitors and residents attending the 13th annual Amazing Earthfest 2019 in Kanab may experience this delight by participating in one or more of five moon and star parties organized for the festival week, May 11-18.

Kanab is protected from light pollution by its remoteness and topography, and by surrounding public lands spanning the high plateaus of Southern Utah and northern Arizona. Sky glow emanating from larger cities of the region including Las Vegas, St. George and Cedar City along Interstate 15, and even Page, Arizona, is nearly invisible in Kanab. That’s why a group of local residents have launched a community effort to build a public, educational astronomical observatory in Kanab, to be known as the Stellar Vista Observatory.

Here’s a look at upcoming Earthfest astronomy events for the greater Kanab community.

On Saturday, May 11, head to Zion Mountain Ranch in Mt. Carmel, UT, to celebrate National Astronomy Day at with a gourmet “farm to fork” supper at Cordwood Restaurant, followed by a moon and star party with telescopes provided by amateur astronomers and featuring cultural perspectives of the Southern Paiute people from 9 to 11 pm. www.zmr.com. Moonrise: 12:27 pm; Illumination 50%; Meridian Passing 7:48 pm. Meridian refers to the trajectory of the Moon as it travels past its highest point in the night sky.

On Monday, May 13, at an event titled, Stellar Vista Observatory in the large conference room of the Kane County Water Conservancy building, 745 Kaneplex Drive, see our Moon through the eyepiece of a large astronomical telescope and learn about the constellations visible in the spring sky with local astronomers along the Sherry Belle Trail at Jackson Flat Reservoir. Find out why the State of Utah supports the preservation of its world-class night skies, and how Kanab has become the site for a future project to create a public educational observatory. Moonrise: 2:49 pm; Illumination 73%; Meridian Passing 9:34 pm.

This multi-faceted event is co-hosted by Kanab’s nonprofit Stellar Vista Observatory. Contributions toward construction of the future astronomical observatory will be welcomed. A key organization participating in the program is the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative https://cpdarkskies.org/ serving the four-state region of the plateau where exceptional natural darkness is treasured by millions whose home towns and cities no longer afford a view of the wonders of the night sky. With an online tool called the “Dark Sky Dashboard”, CPSCD Director Aubrey Larsen will deliver a fascinating multimedia tour of dark sky locations and communities on the Plateau. Learn about the many ways you can help enhance natural darkness right at home and what the City of Kanab has already done to preserve your view of the stars!

The event will include a very informative panel discussion with Q&A on the economic, cultural, public safety and quality of life enhancements resulting from preserving natural darkness. Panelists include Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative Coordinator Aubrey Larsen, Kane County Tourism Director Camille Johnson, Kaibab Band of Southern Paiute Environmental Director Daniel Bulletts, Kanab Planning Commissioner Donna Huntsman, and Stellar Vista Observatory Trustee and former Program Director for the National Air and Space Museum Von Del Chamberlain. Elizabeth Walker, SVO Board Member and Founding Director of the international nonprofitTranscendDiscipline.com will moderate. Refreshments will be available.

On Wednesday and Friday, May 15 and 17, from 9 to 11 pm, two programs titled First Star People enable you to experience the exceptional serenity of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at night with a BLM night sky Ranger and large telescopes at two remote sites on the Monument; Nephi Pasture Trailhead in Kanab, and Head of the Rocks Scenic Overlook on Hwy 12 in Escalante. Here you can learn the Native American perspectives of the Navajo and the Paiute peoples, and how sky quality measurements determined GSENM’s eligibility for an IDA Dark Sky Sanctuary designation! A Kane County shuttle van will help transport participants from Kanab to Nephi Pasture. Moonrise: 5:11 pm/7:31 pm; Illumination 91%/96%; Meridian Passing 11:16 pm/12:06 am.

To close the week’s events in sky watching, an event titled City Lights & Starry Nights on Thursday, May 16 from 9 to 11 pm is the perfect occasion to bring the whole family to a convenient in-town location to witness the startling beauty of the Moon and other sky objects through astronomical quality telescopes. Find out how you can help balance the primal experience of starry nights with the need for public safety in city, residential and commercial lighting. Learn how the City of Kanab is working to preserve your view of the stars! Moonrise: 6:21 pm; 93% Illumination.

The nonprofit Amazing Earthfest offers opportunities to volunteer at its annual festival events. For more information and directions to attend please visit: www.AmazingEarthfest.org/events, or see us on Facebook. Make plans now for your family and friends to attend the 13th annual Amazing Earthfest!

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