By Minah Ha
From November 10th-12th, Joshua Tree National Park will be partnering with the National Park Service in order to bring star enthusiasts the Night Sky Festival. This is the third annual Night Sky Festival that the park has hosted for those who want to sit under a sky full of stars.Although this event is free of charge, if you decide to come on November 10th, you will have to pay a park entrance fee of $30. However, because of Veteran’s Day weekend, there will be no park entrance fee on November 11th and 12th! Joshua Tree National Park, located three hours away from Los Angeles is known for its unique Joshua trees and desert flowers in the day to it’s breathtaking desert stars in the night. Because the park itself is located far from big cities, the lack of urban lights allows stars to be clearly seen. Thus, star enthusiasts in Southern California flock to Joshua Tree to stargaze and explore the many constellations that they can’t see in their own urban environments due to light pollution. Many describe the desert stars in Joshua Tree as millions of specks in the sky and when sitting under it, you can’t help but to think about the vastness of the universe.
Beginning at 5am, the Night Sky Festival will showcase various astronomy programs throughout the day. You can learn about the different constellational stories and folktales that have been passed down through storytellers and identify those stars in the sky. There will be park rangers, scientists, and astronomers explaining the various workings of our solar system to all those who want to learn about the science behind our stars as well! Additionally, at night, telescopes will be placed for viewers to get a clearer look at the stars and possibly the different planets! If the weather permits, you also might be able to get to clearly see the Milky Way as well!
If you do decide to go to the Night Sky Festival, coming prepared for stargazing will work to your advantage. Bringing food and water is advised because the park itself won’t have much food or water availability so it’s best if you come prepared with enough food for everyone in your group. Once it starts to become dark, minimizing your exposure to white light by turning off your phones or flashlights about 20 minutes before you stargaze is advised because it takes a while for human eyes to adjust to the very low light conditions of the desert sky. But, using your flashlight to guide the way is also important for your safety because there are lots of rocks and cacti that can cause injuries if you trip over them. In order to use a flashlight and maximize your stargazing experience, bring a red cloth or red paper to cover the flashlight in order to create red light. Deserts also tend to have significant drops in temperature after sunset so it’s good to layer up so that you won’t be freezing while trying to enjoy the nightsky! Coming prepared is a great way to enjoy Night Sky Festival and going with your friends is a great way to make memories with the people you love under the desert sky!
Minah is currently a junior majoring in Global Health and working towards obtaining a MPH/J.D. dual degree. She is from the San Fernando Valley and loves to camp, hike, and read random Wikipedia facts. She speaks Korean and is learning how to speak Spanish.