Night Sky: Our Solar System

Chimney Rock National Monument

This program is timed for when the moon is visible but not fully illuminated; we can enjoy the night sky unimpeded by artificial lighting or the brightness of a full moon, and see many of the brighter objects that are visible. The moon is especially enjoyable to view through a telescope because features near the terminator (the boundary between the lit and unlit portions of the moon) stand out in particularly high contrast and are easy to discern.

The Hwy 151 Entry Gate will open for check-in during the times stated below. Guests will proceed to the Amphitheatre for the first part of the program, an introductory talk including topics such as how the ancient people who periodically inhabited the site used the unique landscape of the Chimney Rock area to view the sky, and what special astronomical events they might have seen. 

All Night Sky programs are designed to include telescope viewing by attendees, and we hope restrictions will be lifted in 2021 to allow this activity. But, since the virus can be spread by the moisture of the eye contacting a telescope eye-piece, we may need to omit this activity for the safety of all. Also, weather conditions occasionally prevent telescope viewing on a particular date. 

If telescope viewing is planned, you’ll then drive to the High Mesa parking lot, where volunteers await with telescopes. At the viewing area, each telescope will focus on a different feature, and volunteers will change that focus periodically during the viewing time. Viewing is scheduled to continue until about one hour after maximum darkness. Guests may depart from the viewing area whenever they choose. 

If we are not able to use the telescopes, expert volunteers will give an expanded talk about how the ancient people who periodically inhabited the site used the unique landscape of the Chimney Rock area to view the sky, what special astronomical events they might have seen, or other topics relevant to this special place. Bring your questions! 

Remember that at this altitude the nights begin to cool rapidly after sunset, so an appropriate jacket or sweater will enable you to remain comfortable while you enjoy the majesty of the night sky at Chimney Rock. This program is perfect for young families and those with limited mobility. Visitors traveling with their own telescope are encouraged to bring it to the program and share it with others (if restrictions allow).

Tickets are $16 (ages 13 and up), $8 (ages 5-12), under 5 free, and are considered a non-refundable, non-transferable donation. A booking fee applies to each ticket purchased online or through the call center. 

Making a reservation through the call center or website is the only way to guarantee a spot on this tour. 

Most programs are at full capacity prior to the event, but we will accommodate walk-ins if space is available. Booking fees do not apply to walk-ins. 

 Program Dates/Times:  

Select a date to see a list of times

Need to Know

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