GREAT Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will host a dark sky celebration on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 6:30-11:00 p.m. at the outdoor amphitheater. Far from the light pollution of urban areas, Great Sand Dunes protects some of Colorado’s darkest night skies.

This free event will celebrate and educate visitors about the benefits to dark sky preservation.

The evening begins with a 30-minute “Birds of Prey” presentation at by the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center in Pueblo. Shortly following the presentation, visitors will have the chance to meet owls rehabilitated at the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center.

A kids’ activity and information table will be set up at 7:30 p.m. for visitors to learn about reducing light pollution and appreciating the dark skies. Staffed tables will provide astronomy information, handouts, and the Junior Ranger Night Explorer activity book. Upon completion of this activity book, kids can earn a special night sky patch. A ranger-led program will begin at 8:30 p.m. followed by multiple telescope viewings of planets and deep sky objects.

The event concludes at 11 p.m. but stargazers are encouraged to continue enjoying the dark skies.

This event relies on good weather and dark conditions, so visitors are advised to bring red light flashlights and headlamps to protect their night vision and wear warm and layered clothing due to nighttime temperatures. The information table will provide red cellophane and rubber bands to convert white lights to less harmful red ones. In case of inclement weather, the event may be canceled.

On a clear, moonless night one can see thousands of stars, including the Milky Way, stretching across the sky. This free event aims to deliver opportunities to understand why dark skies are an important resource.