Night Sky Festival: Celebrate starry skies and the August eclipse

WASHINGTON — Tired of the “Dog Days” of August, DMV? Want to get away to cool breezes, lush greenery and star filled skies? Shenandoah National Park (SNP) is always your answer but now with an added bonus: the Second Annual Night Sky Festival.

Family friendly, with astronomy stuff for all ages, the Night Sky Festival will occur over four days and nights — rain or shine. Most of the events are free. Rooms can be booked and there are places to eat. Check out SNP’s guide to facilitate your stay.

Aug. 18-21, the park will host presentations, telescopes, activities and a viewing of the partial solar eclipse. If the weather cooperates, there will be telescopes available for festival goers to see our star, the sun, during selected days — especially on the 21st for the partial solar eclipse — with properly filtered telescopes.

For your own viewing of the eclipse it is essential for your eye safety that you have the proper eclipse viewing glasses. Failure to do so will result in permanent eye damage.

WTOP will have a special eclipse story on Aug. 13 with the latest listings for solar eclipse viewing events in the listening area as well as other eclipse tidbits.

Due to light pollution, 80 percent of Americans cannot see the Milky Way galaxy, our home galaxy. At SNP, especially this time of year, the Milky Way is a celestial splendor that can be seen sprawling across the sky from the south to the north. Many guests of SNP have never seen it and some are moved to tears when they view the milky band for the first time. The moon will be out of the sky for this year’s festival, so the Milky Way will be at its best.

I hope you will join the SNP staff and I at the Night Sky Festival. The park’s astronomy events continue throughout the season if you get the astronomy bug during the festival.

See you there!

If you already have the astronomy bug, then you will want to be on the look out for the Perseid Meteor Shower which is currently ramping up to its peak on the mornings of Aug. 11-13.

The Moon will be bright and interfere with the number of Perseids this year but it is well worth looking anyway. The Perseids can produce bright meteors and SNP is the perfect place in to view them. Even skywatchers living in the suburbs can see the brighter meteors.

So here’s to clear skies for our festival, shower and eclipse!

Follow me on Twitter @skyguyinva and on my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up