2010/2011(MESA, Ariz.) - Ah, the heavens. When looking up in Arizona you are bound to see a night sky unlike any other. The state boasts two observatories, is the place where Pluto was discovered, and the desert skies continue to be some of the finest in the world for astronomical observations. Here in Mesa, the setting sun offers visitors a whole new spectacular view to take in. Don't go to bed early because you won't want to miss the exciting star-studded events that Mesa has to offer under Arizona's bright night sky.

A Tour of Mesa's Night Sky at Usery Mountain Regional Park (Feb. 5, March 5 and April 30, 2011)

Grab your flashlight and head out to Usery Mountain Regional Park, located at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, to experience the sights of the desert at night while learning about our solar system. As part of their "Stargazing for Everyone" series, experts will tell stories and teach park visitors about the moon, stars, planets and galaxies while viewing the sky through a telescope. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs and snacks for their own comfort throughout the 2 hour program. Dates vary each season. Visit online for updated event dates throughout the year http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/ or call 480-984-0032 for more information.

Full-Moon Hikes in the Legendary Superstition Mountains (Feb. 4 and Feb. 17, 2011)

Just a short drive from Mesa, visitors can experience the natural beauty of Lost Dutchman State Park. The park is offering ranger-guided full moon hikes and astronomy events where visitors can experience the desert under the light of the moon. During the week of the full moon, a ranger will lead a hike throughout the park taking visitors throughout the trails under the bright full moon light. Astronomer Bill Dellinges is hosting monthly astronomy nights on Fridays to teach visitors about the night sky. Lost Dutchman State Park, located along the Apache Trail at the base of the Superstition Mountains, embraces 292 acres and elevations of over 2,000 feet giving hikers amazing views. For more information, visit http://www.azstateparks.com/Parks/LODU/index.html or call 480-982-4485.

Smooth Sailing & Twinkling Lights at Night

Set sail on the Dolly Steamboat at Canyon Lake and watch Arizona's night stars twinkle on the water. Take in either a Twilight Dinner Cruise or the popular Twilight Astronomy Cruises hosted monthly by astronomy expert Dr. Sky. Aboard the Astronomy Cruise, passengers will have the use of on-board telescopes to view the breathtaking beauty of the solar system. Bask in the beauty of Canyon Lake at twilight as the Arizona sun sets the canyon walls aglow. These romantic cruises offer an exciting alternative to dining in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. Each cruise runs for 2 ½ hours and offers an alternating buffet style menu. Guests can also bring their own libations on board. Call for dates, details and pricing, 480-827-9144 or visit http://www.dollysteamboat.com/.

Public Tours at the Planetarium

Mesa Community College will be holding "Astronomy Nights" in the new planetarium on the first Friday of each month until April. Visitors can view the night sky and explore the universe and solar system for free in the new planetarium and rooftop observation deck. Planetarium shows take place every half hour from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with telescope viewing from the observation deck beginning at 7:00 p.m. MCC's planetarium opened in September 2008, making it the city's first planetarium and the state's seventh. The planetarium is located inside the Physical Science Building in the southwest corner of MCC's Southern and Dobson Campus at 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa. For more event information, visit MCC's event calendar at http://www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/MES/geventcal/.

Michelle Streeter, Director of Public Relations
Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau
Direct: 480-682-3638 Toll-free: 800-283-6372 x345
E-mail: Michelle@VisitMesa.com

Editor's Note: Readers can request a complimentary 2011 Official Mesa Arizona Visitors Guide at http://www.visitmesa.com/ or by calling 800-283-6372.

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