If you thought catching an Arizona sunset was on the must-do list, try seeing our stars! Recognized by the Associated Press, Mesa’s night sky programming is one of the most popular outings for City Limitless® visitors. Here, you can get far enough from the Phoenix city lights and open up your eyes to a star-studded masterpiece. As a state, Arizona boasts two observatories and is the place where Pluto was discovered. Our desert skies continue to offer some of the finest skyscapes in the world for astronomical observations.
- Mesa Community College is home to Arizona’s newest planetarium. Since opening, visitors can view the night sky and explore the universe and solar system for free in the new planetarium on the rooftop observation deck as part of the Astronomy Nights program offered on the first Friday of every month. During this free public event, the planetarium runs shows that 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.
- Grab your flashlight and head out to Usery Mountain Regional Park 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 several telescopes. Little ones can even go on flashlight tours seeking desert animals or a scorpion hunt with blacklights! Call for event dates: 480-984-0032, https://www.maricopa.gov/parks/stars.aspx
- Lost Dutchman State Park offers ranger-guided full moon hikes during the cycle of the full moon and star parties every month. No flashlights here as the moonlight is all you need to guide your path. The park also hosts monthly astronomy nights in season to teach visitors about the night sky. Here, you are tucked away from the city’s light pollution allowing for incredible, crisp views of the night sky in the middle of the desert. Call ahead for complete details: 480-982-4485, http://azstateparks.com/starparty/
- Watch reflections of night stars twinkle across the majestic Canyon Lake during a Twilight Dinner Cruise on Dolly Steamboat. For avid starseekers, be sure to experience their monthly Astronomy Cruises, where passengers have use of on-board telescopes to view the breathtaking beauty of the solar system under the instruction of astronomy expert Dr. Sky. Call for current tour schedules, advance reservations recommended.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and utilize Mesa’s beautiful night sky and study up on some constellations. We know that you’ll love it. We’re Sirius. ;) If you do, make sure to snap some pics of your astronomical adventures and tag us @VisitMesa on Instagram or Twitter. We can’t wait to see!