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RBC I To paraphrase paleontologist Earl Douglass, August in Dinosaur provides beautiful sights, day or night. Monument staff and community partners are offering a variety of Dark Sky & Dinosaur Discovery-themed events in August as part of the Dinosaur Centennial.
Less than two thirds of U.S. residents can see the Milky Way from their homes. On moonless nights, thousands of stars shine bright in the naturally dark skies that stretch over Dinosaur National Monument. Each year, more people add stargazing to their list of things to do at national parks since developed areas often have lighting that obscures the stars.
From Wednesday through Sunday this week is a good time to join monument staff to celebrate the night with the Skies Over Dinosaur Astronomy Festival. During the day, observe our closest star with Junior Ranger Night Explorer activities and afternoon solar viewing at the Quarry Visitor Center from 2 to 4 p.m. Planisphere (Star Chart) Talks at the Quarry Visitor Center from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday will help you identify when and where to look for certain features in the sky once it gets dark.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, join the Green River Campground evening program at 7:30 p.m., followed by Stargazing with Telescopes at the Split Mountain Campground at 9:15 p.m. If you have your own telescope and don’t mind sharing the view with other visitors, set-up takes place in the closed loop at the south end of the Split Mountain Campground at 8:30 p.m. Note that the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower is Thursday (today) around 3:00 a.m. There will not be any formal program for the meteor shower, but it is a great excuse to find someplace dark and look up!
While astronomy encourages us to look up to the sky, paleontology inspires a closer appreciation of what is down on the ground. When Earl Douglass wrote about his discovery of dinosaur bones at the current location of Dinosaur National Monument, he noted that the eight vertebrae he saw was a “beautiful sight.” Within five days, his journals also describe a number of people from the local community making the journey to see “the bones.”
From Aug. 22-25, Earl Douglass Discovery Days mark the initial discovery on Aug. 17, 1909, of what was to become the Carnegie Quarry and the anniversary of the first recorded visitors to the site on Aug. 22, 1909.
Activities include special talks each day at the quarry, off-trail hikes to see more recent dinosaur discoveries, and a Green River Campground evening program at 7:30 p.m on Aug. 22, led by Earl Douglass’ granddaughter, Diane Iverson.
Documentary Night at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the Uintah County Library in Vernal, Utah, will also feature Diane Iverson sharing excerpts from the book based on her grandfather’s journals, Speak to the Earth and Let it Teach You: The Life and Times of Earl Douglass 1862-1931. Books will be available for purchase.
Tuesday will be a fee-free day in honor of the National Park Service’s 99th Birthday. Entrance fees will be waived that day; however camping fees will still be collected.
For more information, call (435) 781-7700, visit www.nps. gov/dino or follow DinosaurNPS on social media to learn more about visiting Dinosaur National Monument and joining the Dinosaur Centennial celebrations.