Experience the Glorious Night Sky Over Yellowstone National Park

Tomorrow, August 25, 2016, the US National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, and the NPS has been celebrating all year with their “Find Your Park” promotion. But the first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created 144 years ago. Yellowstone is known for its dramatic canyons, lush forests, and flowing rivers, but might be most famous for its hot springs and gushing geysers.

This new timelapse offers you a chance to “find your dark skies” at Yellowstone, and features the many geysers there, showing the dramatic geothermal features under both day and night skies. But the night skies over these geyser explosions steal the show! It was filmed by Harun Mehmedinovicas part of the Skyglow Project, an ongoing crowdfunded project that explores the effects and dangers of urban light pollution in contrast with some of the most incredible dark sky areas in North America.

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM : HADES EXHALES from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

The Skyglow Project works in collaboration with International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit organization fighting to educate the public about light pollution and to preserve the dark skies around the world.

Coming up this weekend, you can enjoy free admission to all 412 national parks from August 25-28, 2016. You can “find your park” and read about special events happening all around the country at FindYourPark.com

A still from the timelapse video 'Hades Exhales,'  a timelapse journey through several of Yellowstone National Park's geyser basins.  Credit: Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Productions.
A still from the timelapse video ‘Hades Exhales,’ a timelapse journey through several of Yellowstone National Park’s geyser basins. Credit: Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Productions.

Many thanks to Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan of Sunchaser Pictures for continuing their great work with the Skyglow Project and for sharing their incredible videos with Universe Today. Consider supporting their work, as all donations go towards the creation of more videos and images.

A still from the video 'Hades Exhales,' a timelapse journey through several of Yellowstone National Park's geyser basins.  Credit and copyright: Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Productions.
A still from the video ‘Hades Exhales,’ a timelapse journey through several of Yellowstone National Park’s geyser basins. Credit and copyright: Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Productions.

Help Track the Effects of Light Pollution with GLOBE at Night

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Going on right now is your last chance in 2012 to take just a few minutes to get involved in the GLOBE at Night campaign to measure the brightness of your night sky. GLOBE at Night is a citizen-science project to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to make naked-eye observations of the night sky in your area.

Here’s all the info you need in order to participate in GLOBE at Night:

Participating in GLOBE at Night requires only five easy steps:

1) Find your latitude and longitude.

2) Find Orion, Leo or Crux by going outside more than an hour after sunset (about 8-10pm local time).

3) Match your nighttime sky to one of the provided magnitude charts.

4) Report your observation.

5) Compare your observation to thousands around the world.

You can also use the new web application data submission process. The GLOBE at Night website is easy to use, comprehensive and holds an abundance of background information. The database is usable for comparisons with a variety of other databases, like how light pollution affects the foraging habits of bats.

People in 115 countries have contributed over 75,000 measurements during the past six years, making GLOBE at Night the most successful light pollution awareness campaign to date. So join in and help the cause!

Alqueva: Some of the Darkest, Clearest Skies on Earth

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It’s a place with dark skies, clear nights and ancient astronomical megaliths. What more could you want in an astro-destination? The Great Lake Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal is the first site in the world to receive the “Starlight Tourism Destination” certification and has good atmospheric conditions for stargazing for more than 250 nights of the year, as well as having special lodging just for astro-tourists. The services for guests include late night meals and meals to go for stargazers, available telescopes and binoculars, and classes on astronomy and observing.

Astrophotographer Miguel Claro was tasked with having just two nights to take images of one part of this Dark Sky Reserve to help promote the region, and he has sent Universe Today his stunning images. “They are representative of the Monsaraz region, one of the locations covered by the Dark Sky Reserve area and that had the best dark sky measures in the process of Starlight validation,” Claro told UT. “Even being so dark, and without the presence of the Moon to light up the landscape – at this time of the year without the major presence Milky Way – I had to use very high ISO´s, so there were some differences between heaven and Earth elements, avoiding overly dark images. But the sky was so dark, that we could find M33 with unaided eye.”

Enjoy several of Claro’s images below, as well as finding out more about this dark sky destination.

Nearby Monsaraz Castle, with the Moon and Venus at the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal. Credit: © Miguel Claro
Lago Alqueva and star trails in the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal. Credit: © Miguel Claro
Lodging at the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal. Credit: © Miguel Claro
A monolith in the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal. Credit: © Miguel Claro
Venus and the Moon in February 2012 at the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal. Credit: © Miguel Claro

The Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve is coordinated by Genuineland in partnership with the Tourism Lands of the Great Lake Alqueva, the Alentejo Coordination and Regional Development Commission and EDIA, SA and with the collaboration of APAA – Portuguese Association of Amateurs Astronomers- through Dr. Guilherme de Almeida and Eng. Vitor Quinta, as well with external participation of Dr. Raul Lima, for the sky measurements that were made during the certification process.

For more information about the Lake Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve see this website. Enjoy more of Miguel Claro’s images at his website.

A Refreshing Idea! Vote for Enabling City Kids to See Starry Skies

Now here’s a refreshing idea: create a “dark sky oasis” in suburban locations where city-dwellers can gather to see the stars and learn about the night sky. The International Dark-Sky Association has proposed a project to bring access to the starry night to urban areas through the creation of Suburban Outreach Sites. To make this project a reality, the IDA needs your help, and all it takes is a click of your mouse. Every year the Pepsi Refresh project gives away tens of thousands of dollars in grants to improve communities. The IDA is competing for one of these grants and needs your vote!

A Suburban Outreach Site could be built right in your community. These will be safe, public places where people can gather to enjoy the night sky. Scott Kardel, the Public Affairs Director for the IDA told Universe Today that Suburban Outreach Sites will be easily accessible from US cities.

“They will offer a good place to stargaze (relative to the area) and will hold free events to bring celestial wonders to the young and old,” Kardel said. “Suburban Outreach Sites will educate the next generation of astronomers to keep looking up, and inspire them to use better lighting to save energy, conserve natural resources, and help wildlife.”

These sites will be created through a partnership between IDA and local astronomy clubs.

If funded the Pepsi Refresh grant will help IDA designate Suburban Outreach Sites around the USA.

“IDA will coordinate action with our Chapters and astronomy clubs to select a safe place with a beautiful nighttime atmosphere,” Kardel said. “IDA will create ‘fresh’ programming ideas and event coordination, and even offer free materials on how to dim city lights and bring back the stars.”

Projects are chosen by popular vote and people can vote every day in the month of December to help IDA bring the night sky.

You can support the IDA by voting here: http://www.refresheverything.com/citystarparks