Weekend star party set at Craters of the Moon

It promises to be a stargazer’s paradise.

National Park Service employees have partnered with the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society to provide eastern Idaho with the opportunity to stargaze with some of the darkest skies and strongest telescopes the state has to offer during the annual “Star Party.”

“There are other national park units where they have star parties like this, but I think we are probably the only one in Idaho,” said Ted Stout, chief of interpretation and education for Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

The star party is scheduled Friday and Saturday at Craters of the Moon. Stout said the viewing will start at 9:30 p.m. with a brief presentation at the amphitheater, followed by stargazing at the Caves Area. Viewing will start at 10 p.m. and runs until the sun comes up.

“These folks are dedicated to the craft,” he said. “A lot of them will stay out there all night long, as long as conditions allow.”

Members of the Astronomical Society will do their best to accommodate requests, Stout said, but the telescopes also will be dialed into various features of the cosmos. Even if there is a request that can’t be fulfilled, Stout said those in attendance will not be disappointed.

“We just have wonderful, naturally dark skies because of our remote location,” he said. “It is startling to people from the city to come out here and see how the Milky Way fills up the night sky.”

Other than the $8 entrance fee, there is no cost to attend the star party. Camping will be available, but Stout recommended getting to the park early to secure a site as the event is a popular one.