[Photo courtesy of the National Park Service]

Dead Horse Point State Park is home to some of the darkest night skies on the Colorado Plateau, and this weekend, visitors will have a chance to learn more about them.

Assistant park manager Crystal White will be teaming up with night-sky rangers from Arches and Canyonlands national parks on Saturday, Sept. 12 to host an astronomical talk, a constellation tour and a telescope-viewing event.

Visitors should plan on arriving at Dead Horse Point’s visitor center no later than 8:15 p.m. that night, and White suggests that they should bring camp chairs or blankets with them, along with red lights for illumination.

“If you need light, make it a red light,” she said. “By nature, our eyes adjust really well to red light, and it doesn’t affect out night vision.”

The astronomical talk is set to begin around 8:30 p.m., followed by a tour of constellations that are currently visible at night. The third part of the evening will be devoted to a presentation about French astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier, who compiled a major list of night-sky objects. Stargazers will also learn how to spot Comet 67P – the destination of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which touched down on the comet’s surface last November.

Arches National Park interpretive ranger Michael Matthes welcomes random park visitors and stargazers alike to join him at Dead Horse Point.

“Visitors should be prepared to be dazzled by the night-sky objects,” Matthes said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to experience true darkness, which is an endangered resource.”

To reach the park, drive about nine miles north of Moab on U.S. Highway 191, and turn left at the intersection with state Route 313. Continue down 313 for another 23 miles to the end of the road.

For more information, call Dead Horse Point State Park at 435-259-2614.