Glacier Opens Astronomical Observatory at St. Mary

Park Service hosted dedication for new observatory on Aug. 22

By Justin Franz
Glacier National Park celebrated the opening of its new astronomcial observatory at St. Mary Visitor center on August 22, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Glacier National Park Conservancy

Glacier National Park has opened up a new astronomical observatory at St. Mary. The new facility houses one of the largest telescopes in the state and the National Park Service. The 20-inch PlaneWave telescope was purchased by the Glacier National Park Conservancy and allows visitors to see distant planets, galaxies and nebulae.

The National Park Service hosted a dedication for the new facility on Aug. 22.

The observatory also has two large monitors that allow visitors to see what the telescope is seeing without having to squint into a small eyepiece.

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is the world’s first trans boundary International Dark Sky Park thanks to a number of steps taken to protect its dark sky. Throughout the year, Glacier Park hosts regular astronomy programs that draw up to 20,000 visitors annually. Guided solar and night sky viewing programs happen at St. Mary and Apgar through September and the monthly summer star parties at Logan Pass can bring in upwards of 600 guests.

Glacier’s night sky programing and its efforts to reduce light pollution have been aided significantly by grants from the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

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