Connected to the Night Sky

Not even cloudy skies could stop citizens from getting out and exploring the stars.

The Southwest Astronomy Festival had their first inaugural event Sept. 22 and 23. The festival was celebrated throughout Arizona, Iron County and Washington County. It included a variety of activities for people of all ages to participate in.

The festival kicked off on Friday night with an Astronomy Extravaganza and a telescope party at North Elementary school. Even with the unexpected change in weather over the past week, a few families braved the cold to look at constellations, planets and stars with the help of volunteers from the Ashcroft Observatory.

Saturday’s festivities were geared more toward adults and university age students. There were a plethora of workshops available at the Cedar City Library. Some of the topics that were discussed were star policies and the effects of space travel on the body. The idea of the workshops was to get the public thinking about the stars in a whole new way–to help broaden their horizon of what goes on in the sky above.

One of the highlights from the festival was the mobile planetarium that was featured in the library. It was a blow up structure that allowed a 360 degree look at the sky. It was not only visually exciting for the children to look at, but was also interesting for adults and parents to sit in and learn about.

Leesa Ricci, the event director over the festival, worked tirelessly over the past four months to put it together. In Cedar City alone there were 11 events.

“The festival could not have happened without the support of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Southern Utah Space Foundation and the St. George Astronomy Group,” Ricci said. With the help of these organizations Ricci was able to make the first Astronomy Festival a success.

Andrew Mcaffee, an avid astronomy fan, helped out with a variety of events over the course of the festival. “I hope the public learns that astronomy is a lot more interesting than you thought before,” he said.

Ricci looks forward to the Astronomy Festival becoming an annual event. She wants to not only inform the public but also get the public excited about astronomy.

“I want people to start thinking about Cedar City as an astronomy orientated town,” she said. “We can make astronomy part of our culture. I want people in the community to feel connected with the night sky, and feel like Astronomy is something they can still do. They can do that in a place like Cedar City.”

With your support and the help of Cedar Breaks National Monument we can once again put Cedar City on the map for our beautiful night sky.

Story By 
Cassidy Harmon