Thursday, October 1, 2015

2015 Astronomy Festival - Great Basin National Park

 One of our favorite fall events to attend is the Astronomy Festival at Great Basin National Park. (Here are posts from 2012, 2013, and 2014.)  We started out with the talent show on Thursday night, where an array of performances showcased talent by park employees.

The kids had school the next day, so we couldn't stay to look through the telescopes, but the skies were beautiful, so I'm sure those that did had great views.

On Friday afternoon I signed up for the astrophotography workshop and picked up a couple tips to improve my night sky photography. Derek Demeter was the workshop leader.

I had planned to go to Derek's keynote speech, but an EMT call had me changing my plans. Instead, I went to the Saturday sunrise program at the Baker Archeological Site. To my surprise, there was quite a large crowd.

We heard about how this Fremont Village was laid out with astronomy in mind, with the buildings oriented certain ways to show when it was planting and harvest time. The village was inhabited from about 1220 to 1295.

The Fremont Village was small, probably just a few families, and they grew crops nearby with water from Strawberry Creek (which now flows pretty far away, but if you look closely you can see the swale that used to bring the water).

The light was fantastic as the sun came up.

The curbs show where the buildings were, which were excavated in the 1990s by BYU and BLM.

I took a lot of photos.

Finally I knew I better get going. If you visit this free site, there's a self-guiding booklet available at the trailhead (the trail is about .25 miles roundtrip). It's a very nice booklet that explains a lot.

Later that day we went backpacking to take advantage of the new moon skies (see day 1, night, and day 2 posts if you missed them), so we didn't get to look through the telescopes the third night either. Nevertheless, it was fun participating in a few of the astronomy festival events, and I think it had record attendance. The weather was perfect, and the high elevation and remoteness make for some fantastic night skies.

If you're interested in going, save the dates for next year's astronomy festival: September 29-October 1, 2016.
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