Destinations and Journey, or, why am I in Utah again?

So I have arrived in Utah. Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah. Though a sprawling park, it’s mostly overlooked by travelers rushing from the big letter parks of Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches. I like places that are mostly overlooked by others…it always suggests to me that there’s really something of value there.

Night sky over Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park (Punkastronomy)

As I took my first trip down the scenic drive, my first hike to see a natural bridge tucked onto the top of a mesa, and wandered through the orchards of old Fruita, I knew that was true. And to the question of why I had bothered to drive all these miles (and it was a bother) to get here, I just had to wander outside my apartment at night and look up.

There’s a danger with astrophotography. The camera can capture far more than the eye can see. But in the case above, this 15 second exposure does a pretty good job of showing what can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night from the Colorado Plateau. Quite simple: a lot of stars. That haze by the trees is the Milky Way. Here’s an image that shows the star clouds of the Milky Way a bit more dramatically.

And the day here holds as many splendors as the night, making me wonder when I’m going to get any sleep at all.

Capital Dome, a formation of Navajo Sandstone, from the Hickman Bridge Trail (Punkastronomer)

So the Punkastronomer has arrived to the desert. His mission, to help connect the visitors of this slightly-underknown national park connect with the night sky–and all these pretty red rocks around them.

You can see more photos from my four-day journey across the US in my Utah 2011 flickr collection.

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