GAZE UP: If you've ever called upon a tall tree, as in one of the ginormous, touch-the-clouds specimens seen around particular parts of the Sierra Nevada, then you've likely spent a good amount of time gazing up. Perhaps you were attempting to discern the tree's tippy-top, highest-to-the-sky branch, or maybe you were making a general guess as to how long it would take to climb. It's a time-honored tradition, in short, to look up at the tops of some of the planet's sky-high-iest shrubs, but the annual Dark Sky Festival encourages participants to look even further, into the larger cosmos that are above the tops of the trees (or above from our human viewpoint, anyway). The festival is very much about astronomy, and the starry sky, and enjoying both without the lights we know and experience nightly in a city setting. Enjoying the sequoias, too, is part of the celebration, even as they stand as quiet, in-the-shadows sentinels after the sun goes down. Ready to commune with the universe, sans illumination?
AUG. 5 THROUGH 7, 2016... are your dates. The lengthy lists of happenings includes telescope viewings, an appearance by a NASA astronaut, nature walks, the constructing of model rockets, and more cosmic fun times. And it isn't all about looking up, but heading down, too, into Crystal Cave. Dark Sky Festivals are becoming a regular thing in our national parks, and beyond, as nature lovers and astronomy buffs and those who wish they could see the Milky Way in all of its near-fictional beauty gather in some of our country's most low-lit destinations. Read more, then grab your flashlight and begin plotting your happy path to the tall trees.