PLAN AHEAD

Star parties at Kartchner Caverns, Catalina

2013-03-07T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:50:29Z Star parties at Kartchner Caverns, Catalina Arizona Daily Star
March 07, 2013 12:00 am

Catalina State Park and Kartchner Caverns State Park host star parties on March 16.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

• Find it: On Arizona 90, nine miles south of Interstate 10 near Benson.

• 1-4 p.m.: The event starts with afternoon solar viewing that includes Lunt Solar Systems of Tucson, and a "Night Sky Network" info tent. This is presented by the Huachuca Astronomy Club of Southeast Arizona.

• 5:30 p.m.: SkySpy himself, Tim Hunter, is the guest speaker in the Discovery Center. His discussion will include photographs of the wonders of the night sky and the preservation of our dark skies.

• 6:30 p.m.: Evening star viewing will start in the parking lot next to the Discovery Center.

• Tips: Visitors should bring a red light (to protect everyone's night vision), sweater or jacket. The Bat Cave Café and Gift Shop will be open until 8 p.m.

• Cost: The star party is free, but there is a $6 park entrance fee per vehicle.

The entrance fee is waived with a reservation for the guided tours inside the cave at Kartchner Caverns: the Rotunda/Throne Room Tour and the Big Room Tour. Both tours are $22.95 for ages 14 and older; $12.95 for ages 7 to 13. Ages 6 and younger are free for the Rotunda/Throne Room but are not allowed in the Big Room. Reservations for camping or cave tours can be made 24-hours-a-day at AZStateParks.com or by calling 1-520-586-2283 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Catalina State Park

• Find it: On Arizona 77 (Oracle Road) at mile marker 81, six miles north of Ina Road.

• 6:30 p.m.: Astronomers will answer questions and discuss the elements of the night sky as darkness descends. Visitors should meet at the main trailhead parking lot. When the night sky arrives, astronomers will volunteer their expertise and telescopes for visitors to view an assortment of night sky attractions including star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.

This is the first of three star parties the nonprofit Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will hold this year. Organizers have been told that people are starting to plan camping trips at the park around the star party.

• Tips: Visitors should bring water, snacks, a red light (to protect everyone's night vision), sweater or jacket.

• Cost: The party is free. There is a $7 park entrance fee per vehicle (up to four adults). Primitive-to-full hookup camping sites cost $15 to $25 depending on the type of camping site.

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