Southwest Astronomy Festival: SUMA family day

Saturday, Sept. 16, marked the second-to-last day of the National Park Service’s 2023 Southwest Astronomy Festival, an annual event across southern Utah celebrating the sky. The Cedar City Southern Utah Museum of Art hosted a family day for the local community as their contribution to the larger festival.

SUMA’s event consisted of sun-related activities, including cyanotypes, a solar observation telescope provided and operated by a Cedar Breaks National Monument volunteer, as well as live music.

Salt Lake City resident, Madeline Holm, visited SUMA with her family.

“We homeschool them, and we’re studying space this month, so we thought it was a good opportunity to come up. They’re having a fun activity that has to do with space and the sun here at SUMA,” said Holm, speaking of her family’s experience at the event. “[The kids] got to do a little art activity and then look at the sun through a telescope, and that’s really fun.”

When asked about his experience looking through the telescope, Holm’s son said that the sun was red.

In addition to the telescope, visitors also had an opportunity to create their very own cyanotypes. A cyanotype is a piece of art that involves placing objects on a sheet of special light-sensitive paper and then setting the project in the sun. The light develops the exposed portion of the paper, leaving behind a negative impression of the objects.

As the Southwest Astronomy Festival draws to a close, it leaves behind a lasting impression of wonder and awe on the local community. Those who attended any of the events throughout the festival had the opportunity to learn something new and see the night sky in a different way. 

For more information about SUMA, visit their website. For an overview of the astronomy festival, visit the Cedar Breaks National Monument website.

Story by: Jacob Horne
Photos by: Chloe Copeland