Beneath a waning moon
In planning my journey to Utah, I took some recommendation from Ms. Foott and scheduled my journey as shut as I may to the brand new moon, when the sky is darkest.
“Light from the moon may seem dim, but it can dramatically alter the nighttime scene,” Ms. Foott mentioned. “A new moon is the best time to see faint celestial objects that can be washed-out by moonlight like the Milky Way and faint stars. This can also be achieved when the moon has set, or when the moon is only partially illuminated.”
On the morning of Oct. 4 — because the moon was waning — I deplaned at Salt Lake City International Airport, and headed by automobile to the city of Moab, about 230 miles southeast and the gateway to Canyonlands and Arches, two of Utah’s “Mighty Five” nationwide parks, which additionally embrace Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion.
In my tiny Ford Fiesta with all of the home windows down, I bought my first glimpse of Utah’s often-photographed sandstone formations, spires, buttes and hoodoos (or earth pyramids) in addition to the undulating canyons and pure bridges that make the state so geographically vivid. With solely a few days away from caring for an aged mum or dad, I used to be constrained for time, so I wanted to bypass one other close by hub for stargazers, Canyonlands National Park, and focus solely on Arches, the place I deliberate to fulfill up with an previous pal, Thom Harrop, a Utah native and photographer.
After hours of driving, and a little grubby, I pulled into the previous mining city of Moab, which acts as a base camp for vacationers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, hikers and stargazers. A variety of eating places in Moab caters to a selection of tastes whereas a rising quantity of resorts serves the wants of those that need to kick in regards to the sandstone after which sleep in crisp sheets, a demographic during which I squarely fall.
While nonetheless again dwelling in Tennessee, I heard that a long-utilized advert hoc stargazing web site at Arches known as Panorama Point had lately been upgraded. Joette Langianese, the chief director of the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks, the nonprofit group that was vital in getting the dark-skies designation for each parks, confirmed that they’d constructed an outside sky-viewing area with telescope pads and seating for 75 individuals.
“Lately, people are going there with their own telescopes, and sometimes a ranger will just come out and talk to them,” Ms. Langianese mentioned. “Both Canyonlands and Arches have scheduled night sky programs, but, because of Covid, they were canceled, so they’ve been happening sort of automatically.”