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The skies are dark at the beginning of June at 10:08pm and morning light starts arriving at 5:05am CDT. June 14th is the earliest onset of morning twilight of the year at 5:02am. By the end of June, the dark begins to fade at 5:06am CDT, and skies are fully dark at 10:18pm. June 24th is the latest end of evening twilight at 10:18pm. The summer solstice, longest day sunrise to sunset, is June 21st, 14 hours and 2 minutes, 6:39am to 8:42pm. The full moon (the Strawberry Moon) is on June 3th and the new moon is on the 17th. There are no easy to see meteor showers occurring in June, but there is always the occasional meteor that will delight you. The Persieds meteor shower will make its magnificent showing in August. The week before June 17th would be the best time for stargazing with the darkest skies in the early evening. It's also the better time to be on the lookout for random falling stars, meteors. Mercury is a morning planet this month near the constellation Taurus. After mid-month Mercury will lose some height and disappear in the glare of the sun. Venus is bright in the west at sunset near the constellation Cancer. It sets before midnight. A much dimmer Mars will be in the western sky at sunset, not far from Venus. It sets before midnight as well. Jupiter rises about 3am near Aries. Saturn will be rising about an hour earlier than Jupiter near Aquarius.
Start this June by looking directly overhead in the evening sky. You should see the Big Dipper overhead just a bit towards the north. "Arc (by following the arc of the Big Dipper's handle) to Arcturus, spike (continue) to Spica". Arcturus, Spica, and another star, Denebola, to the west in the constellation Leo, form the Spring Triangle, a large equilateral triangle. The three bright stars of the Summer Triangle: Vega, Altair, and Deneb, can be seen in the eastern sky as the night progresses and the Milky Way rises higher into the sky. On the night of June 1st/2nd you will see Venus lining up with the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. With binoculars, view both Mars (June 2nd) and Venus (June 13th) passing very close to M44, the Beehive Cluster. The brightness of Venus may make M44 difficult to see. Look for a "Sky Tour" program given at the park occasionally when the skies are dark and the weather is good, or ask for a current month's sky map, at the Visitor Center. A good place to observe the heavens at the park is from the Excess Vehicle Parking Area just north of the Visitors Center.
We have solar viewing glasses for sale at the Visitor Center.
The first eclipse is October 24, 2023, a Tuesday and less than six months away! It's an annular solar eclipse that passes over Garner. The second and much more spectacular one is Monday, April 8, 2024. It's a total solar eclipse that will pass over Garner. For about 4 minutes and 30 seconds starting about 1:30 pm CDT, the land will go dark, and the stars will appear. If you want to visit or stay at Garner, park reservations will be required so mark your calendar to make reservations when they become available. Many lodging and camping sites in the Frio Canyon are already booked. Make your plans early. Check https://TheRealEclipse.org/ for local information for residents and visitors alike. Another website for the eclipse is National Eclipse | April 8, 2024 - Total Solar Eclipse . Here is NASA's site: Overview | 2024 Total Eclipse – NASA Solar System Exploration . The HIll Country Alliance also has a great webpage on the Eclipse, Hill Country Eclipse Portal | Welcome to Hill Country Alliance . The HIll Country Alliance also has a great webpage on the Eclipse, Hill Country Eclipse Portal | Welcome to Hill Country Alliance .
Check this site for weather expectations for the 2024 eclipse,
Seeing the Milky Way requires dark skies, skies that many don't ever see. Often before and after the new moon, while the moon is not shining, you can make out the Milky Way in our Garner skies. The Milky Way galaxy is made up of millions of stars. It is sometimes mistaken as a layer of clouds when first seen. The darker the skies the more magnificent the many stars stand out. Have you seen the stars from Garner State Park?
New neighbors, new businesses install lights to light up their properties and light up the whole Frio Canyon in the process. From the top of Old Baldy, you can see light domes of Uvalde, Hondo, Bandera, Kerrville, and yes, even Concan and Leakey, Texas has their light bubbles. Let them know, "Illuminate only what is needed with only as much warm light as is needed." If you see lights shining upward or too bright, let's do better. If you want to continue to see stars, tell them you expect darker skies.
We want to make Garner an International Dark Skies Park. Unfortunately, it isn't currently dark enough. It takes some work, a real campaign. Educating our visitors, neighbors, students, businesses, and government officials; adding light shields; updating light fixtures; measuring, recording, and reporting light readings and other progress steps; getting the right color LED's; seeing what we can do to make the skies dark again. Interested in volunteering? Reach out to the Friends of Garner at 830-232-5999.
Spread the word, set an example. Shine light only when and where you need it. Only shine as much as you need. Use the warmest color light to minimize light scattering. Do we really need a blinding flood light lighting the heavens at every barn, parked car, business sign, steeple, or flag? Here is a link to the International Dark Sky Association's (IDA's) webpage of outreach materials.
While the scope might not be a large spectacular instrument, it generates oohs and ahs when viewing Jupiter, Saturn, or the moon up in the Garner night skies.
Several astronomy clubs come to view the skies above Garner. Check the park's calendars for other star parties, often held on a warm Saturday night around the occurrence of a new moon when skies are at their darkest.
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Hiking with Renay, various dates, Visitor Center 9am
Learn to Play Pickel Ball, various dates, 9am
"I'll be Back Again Next Year" - June 9th and 10th
Highway Cleanup - July 22nd, 9am
Summer Hayrides - We need volunteers.