Free from light and noise pollution of human civilization, on a clear night the dark skies of Dinosaur National Monument open a portal into the universe, and our terrestrial past.

Last year, Dinosaur National Monument hosted several astronomy programs to help visitors understand our expansive universe. Specialty telescopes were brought in not only to get a close look at the stars in the park's incredible dark skies, but also to get a close look at the sun with solar telescopes.

In addition to the park's popular Junior Ranger program, the park offered a Junior Astronomer option. Program offerings will vary, so check with the park for details on upcoming opportunities.

Regardless, Dinosaur National Monument's celebrated dark skies can offer some of the most inspirational looks into our universe given the monument's unique context. With the imagination overflowing from the day's interactions with ancient fossils, these stars seem somehow more intimate as they provide a cosmic connection to a different era in the earth's history.

According to a park release, "Dinosaur National Monument has some of the darkest night skies in the United States. This darkness allows us to enjoy the stars just as people would have hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Discover why the skies above the monument are just as important to enjoy and protect as the fossils, stunning scenery, and wild rivers."

Check for updates in person at the visitor centers, call (435) 781-7700, visit the park's page for more information or follow the park on Facebook for current conditions or events. Specific topics and current events are posted at the Quarry Visitor Center.