Best Timing for an Astronomy Tour
Updated: Jan 25
It is all about the timing! Enjoying a truly dark sky is life changing. It seems to bring us back to our ancestral roots, reminding us how precious our lives are. For me, the stars have been a constant in my life. I grew up in a place called Star Valley and as a child, the wide open valley provided the perfect observatory every clear night. I would head out with my sleeping bag and sleep on our trampoline so I could take in the stars throughout the night. The cool night breeze gently caressed by hair, lulling me to sleep.
In planning your tour date, the darker the night sky the better. It is all about timing with the phases of the Moon. Each month, Earth's Moon goes through a full phase cycle which may be seen in the image below.
For the darkest sky possible, using the calendar above the 7th through the 16th would be the target dates. The 29th, 30th and 31st, the Moon will not rise until early in the morning, leaving the early hours of the night as dark as a new moon night, so wonderful for stargazing.
During the dates of the 23rd through the 28th, the Moon is so full that many stars and most deep space objects will not be visible. We like to say that the Moon steals the show. The brightest deep space objects will still be visible, however they are difficult to see when on a dark night they shine bright. These night's we focus our tours on Moon Tours which consist of an astronomy discussion centered more about the natural history, human history, cultural ties to the Moon, effects of the Moon on Earth, Moon phases, Eclipses, and more while looking at the Moon through a large telescope. On our Full Moon Hikes, there is something quite incredible about hiking through the desert bathed in moonlight. This easy hike will take you to a beautiful overlook bathed in moonlight. Along the route, a small telescope will give you an up close and personal look at the lunar surface.
Whenever you make it to Moab, being under the night sky is a must. Planning for your prime night sky experience is everything to being able to enjoy a truly dark night sky. We hope to see you under the stars.