FREDERICKSBURG — The Friends of Enchanted Rock and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area staff are throwing a big party Feb. 21 in celebration of achieving international status when it comes to protecting the dark, night skies.
“We are proud of our pristine skies over Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and of our work to keep it that way,” said Melissa Mial, an event spokesperson. “Our beautiful starry Hill Country nights are worth celebrating.”
The park earned an International Dark Sky designation and is part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Dark Sky Initiative to increase awareness of the benefits of dark-sky friendly lighting. In honor of those designations, the first Enchanted Rock Star Festival is set for Feb. 21. The event starts at 7 a.m. with a special sunrise ceremony at the top of the summit. Other activities get going about noon.
“We have a great lineup of speakers and exhibitors, including Bill Wren, McDonald Observatory’s ‘Dark Sky ambassador,’” Mial said. She and park interpreter Scott Whitener organized the event.
The event runs through 10 p.m. with lots of activities, including many after the sun dips below the horizon.
“We want folks to enjoy the daytime activities, experience the magical world of a star-filled night and leave the event inspired to use dark sky-friendly lighting in their own communities,” Mial added.
The day’s events include:
7-7:30 a.m.— sunrise summit celebration with the Rev. Jeff Hammond
Noon-6 p.m. — booths open for public browsing
Noon — “Dark Sky Photography” with Rob Greebon Photography
1 p.m. — bat presentation and puppet show for the kids
2 p.m. — owl presentation for the kids
3 p.m. — International Dark Sky Park dedication ceremony followed by “Better Lights for Starry Nights” with Bill Wren of McDonald Observatory
4:30 p.m. — “Astrophotography” with Ken Kattner of Putman Mountain Observatory
5:30 p.m. — “Winter Constellations and Star Charts” with Chris Keating of Mason Astronomy Group, professor of physics and astronomy
5:30 p.m. — sundown yoga at the summit with Patty Williamson of Lizard Dreaming Yoga
6 p.m. — storytelling around the campfire
7 p.m. — constellation tour with Bill Wren and Ken Kattner
8-10 p.m. — star party with telescope viewing
8:30 p.m. — moonless walk to the summit
Around the grounds and throughout the day there will be “star stations” with astronomy activities for kids; vernal pool programs; moth exhibits; dark sky lighting displays; face painting and juggling; food; and entertainment.
People can bring folding chairs and blankets. During the night activities, folks can bring red lights to use instead of white-light flashlights so as not to disturb astronomical viewing. And people can bring their own telescopes.
The park is located at 16710 RR 965 between Llano and Fredericksburg. There is a park entrance fee of $7 for adults. Children 12 and under are admitted for free.
Call (830) 685-3636 or go to tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock or friendsofenchantedrock.blogspot.com for more information.