30 Before 30: Stargazing (in Moab!)

For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. – Carl Sagan

Over Labor Day weekend, Mike and I traveled the 5.5 hours to Moab, Utah. Years ago, Mike came up with this fun idea called “mystery vacations”. One person plans the entire trip and keeps the details secret. I was in charge of planning this weekend trip and all Mike knew was to pack casual & hiking clothes.

We left early Saturday morning and headed west on I-70. The drive to Moab is seriously that easy. Get on I-70 West for 5 hours, then turn left and go south on 191 for about 30 minutes. Boom, you’re in Moab.

We had a great time exploring Arches National Park. Since we just really had one day, we did a driving tour through the park with a few stops for shorter hikes, scenic views, and photos of course. Also – it’s really frickin’ hot in Moab at the end of August.

Moab2 Shelby Moab3 Mike Moab5 Mike

Moab4 Shelby Moab6 Double Arches Moab

The highlight of the trip was a guided stargazing trip in Dead Horse Point State Park – just about 10-15 miles north of Moab. I booked our stargazing trip a few weeks in advance with RedRocks Astronomy – cost $35/person for 1.5 to 2 hour trip. Alex, our guide, has a fun motto “have telescope, will travel”. And he’s not joking! He’s got an amazing crazy telescope, chairs for all travelers, and will lead the caravan to a great spot within the state park. Once all set up – we waited for some clouds to dissipate and for the sun to fully set.

The view was amazing. We could see the light pollution from Moab (15 miles away) and Grand Junction, CO (100+ miles away) – the light pollution wasn’t amazing, but it was still cool that you could see that far away. There was also a lightening storm over the eastern horizon which was interesting to watch from our safe distance.

Alex set up his telescope and through stories and history of astronomy guided the group through various star clusters, planets, and galaxies. We saw Saturn, Uranus, butterfly star cluster, ring nebula, two galaxies colliding (I forget the names), the Milky Way was incredibly clear and brilliant, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Stargazing was on my bucket list. I initially thought that I just wanted to take the time to go out at night sometime we were in the mountains and find some constellations (this will likely still happen!).  This outing was seriously awe inspiring. Well worth the money if you’re in Moab anytime!

Ba-boom, first bucket list item: accomplished! 

3 thoughts on “30 Before 30: Stargazing (in Moab!)

  1. I admire that you trust each other so completely that you are totally cool with mystery vacations. Ours usually end up with a big fat #FAIL. What’s your secret?

    • ha! You might have to ask Mike that one too? There are a few other things that we’ve stuck to which is to go to new places or do new things – so that’s half the fun automatically. Plus lots of internet research and crossed fingers! On this trip I actually planned way too much and once we got there we cut way back to just enjoy the national park and rest – flexibility required. :)

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