MONTROSE, Colo. — Plan to stargaze the night skies of Black Canyon at Gunnison National Park! The Park’s annual astronomy festival, known as AstroFest, will take place on Sept. 22 and go through Sept. 24.

AstroFest will have stargazing opportunities for all three nights of the festival. During the daytime, the South Rim Visitor Center will have opportunities for guests to interact with park rangers and visiting astronomers.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

  • 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Evening Program in Montrose, CO at the Centennial Room – Dr. Anderson, physical scientist with the National Parks Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, will present a talk on dark skies. Learn how the National Park Service protects night skies in parks.

Seating capacity for the presentation is limited to 50. Half the seats will be reservable in advance. Requests for reservations can be sent to: blca_info@nps.gov.

  • 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Evening Stargazing at the Montrose Botanic Garden – Contemplate constellations or peak at a planet through a telescope.

Friday, September 23, 2022

  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Evening Program at the South Rim Campground Amphitheater – Dr. Anderson will discuss dark skies at Black Canyon and in the National Park Service.
  • 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Evening Stargazing at the open area adjacent to the South Rim Campground – Contemplate constellations or peak at a planet through a telescope. Telescopes will be set up in an open area located next to the campground. Location signs will be posted.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

  • 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Evening Program at the South Rim Campground Amphitheater – Join a park ranger for an astronomy talk entitled “We Are Explorers.”
  • 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm. An electronically assisted astronomy (EAA) viewing will be offered at the amphitheater – Visitors will have the opportunity to learn constellations and view galaxies, nebulae, and other deep sky objects projected onto the big screen.

Daytime Astronomy Activities

Daytime programs occur at the Black Canyon South Rim Visitor Center during all three days of the event. The visitor center is closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. daily.

  • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Daytime programming will be occurring at the South Rim at Black Canyon – An Astronomy Activity table will be set up daily on the porch of the South Rim Visitor Center.
  • 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Daytime Astronomy talk with a Volunteer Astronomer – Learn what life on Mars would look like.
  • 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Daytime Astronomy with a Volunteer Astronomer – Learn if there are other Earth in the Universe.

The National Park Service (NPS) asks that guests dress warm for outdoor evening events and to use a red flashlight or headlamp, in lieu of white light, to preserve night vision. Guests can stop by the visitor center to convert a white flashlight to red. Stargazers should plan accordingly for the steep path to the amphitheater and backless seating. Park only in designated areas, never on vegetation, says NPS.

Black Canyon and the co-managed Curecanti National Recreation Area are certified as International Dark Sky Parks. They are dedicated to preserving and protecting night sky resources.