Casey Kasem used to end each broadcast of American Top 40 with these words. “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Well this weekend, Cedar Breaks National Monument along with other locations are going to give you a hand in that “reaching for the stars” invitation.

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It is the second weekend of the annual Southwest Astronomy Festival. Cedar Breaks National Monument's designation as a Dark Sky Park makes it the perfect place to observe objects in the sky.

On Friday, September 15th, you can learn how to take amazing photos of the night sky with your smartphone. Did you know your advanced smartphone can take photos at night? Come and learn how to get wonderful night sky pictures with your iPhone or Android phone. The presenter will talk about settings and techniques that can help you get the best pictures possible.

Learn about built-in phone camera features, additional apps, optional accessories, and more that can help you get beautiful night sky photos with your smartphone. This class includes a presentation with an instructional PDF to download to your phone, question-and-answer time, and a hands-on portion at the end where you will take night sky photos with your phone at this beautiful location.

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Following that presentation will be another Star Party. This event features stargazing with rangers and volunteers from the St George Astronomy Group. Take a tour of the Solar System, the Milky Way and the Galaxy. Learn about constellations and asterisms, how they connect cultures across the oceans of time and the upcoming annular and total eclipses. The Star Party runs from 9PM to 11PM at Cedar Breaks. Be sure to bring a jacket to stay warm.

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On Saturday, September 16th, there will be a Solar Viewing at the Cedar Breaks Northview Overlook. You can learn about the Sun, our source of light, heat, and energy, and the closest star. They will also be discussing the upcoming annular solar eclipse of October 14th, 2023, and the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024.

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On Saturday night, there will be another Star Party at Cedar Breaks National Monument. For this one there will be a presentation called “The Fantastic Life of Stars” and will be presented by Dr. Madhulika Guhathakurta a Senior Advisor for New Initiatives, Heliophysics, NASA GSFC/Program Scientist at the headquarters of NASA.

For the past two decades, Dr. Guhathakurta has enabled the development of Heliophysics as an integrated scientific discipline from which fundamental discoveries about our universe provide direct societal benefits. As the Lead for the Living With a Star program for 16 years since its initiation in 2000, she made possible the flagship missions and the other missions, including STEREO that would revolutionize our understanding of how the Sun shapes space weather in the solar system.

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The presentation will be followed by stargazing and telescope observations.

One thing to know, the Southwest Astronomy festival isn't happening only at Cedar Breaks National Monument. There are events taking place all throughout the region including Cedar City, St. George, Zion National Park and Kanab among others. Get a complete list of activities along with the venues by clicking here.

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