Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley presents the
Sangre Star Festival on June 19-20-21, 2020

About Stellar Speakers Workshops Festivities Location/Lodging Ticketing Be a Bright Star Sponsor!

Stay tuned for more info on pre-sale tickets, detailed schedule, and other exciting updates!

About the Sangre Star Festival

Celebrating 5 years as a certified Dark Sky Community, Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley is proud to present the inaugural Sangre Star Festival on June 19-20-21, 2020! Save the date to join us in celebrating this new moon Dark Sky Solstice Celebration! This three day festival will offer education, entertainment, inspiration, and many more festivities throughout the towns of Westcliffe/Silver Cliff, and at A Painted View Ranch, our festival hub, aka “Galaxy Central”.

The journey to becoming a certified Dark Sky Community was part of a dedicated goal of preserving one of the darkest night skies available from any town in the United States. Sitting at 7,888’ in the pristine Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado, we are the highest certified Dark Sky Community in the world, and thanks to community efforts to limit light pollution, we are also one of very few towns where the Milky Way can be seen from Main St, with the lights on!

This is a very special sight as current estimates indicate that 99% of all Americans live in an area above the threshold for light polluted status, while two-thirds can no longer see the Milky Way, regardless of the night sky conditions, according to the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute. However, here in the historic mountain towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, festival goers can experience the night sky and Milky Way in the same unpolluted way as our ancestors, connecting to a deep ancient history of storytelling and mythology.

The idea for the Sangre Star Festival sprung forth from a vision to share our awe-inspiring night sky with the world, letting others know the tremendous experience we are so thankful to have on a daily basis. Furthermore, the Sangre Star Festival serves to bring our community together by sharing the enormous benefits sustainable economic development can bring by simply preserving what is already above us!

All net proceeds of the Festival will benefit the Dark Skies STEM Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships of $5,000 per year for four years to qualified applicants seeking a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related university degree.


Stellar Speakers

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Harun Mehmedinovic: SKYGLOW

Harun Mehmedinovic is a regular video and photography contributor to BBC Earth, and has contributed photographs and videos to Vogue ItaliaNational GeographicAstronomy MagazineBBC TravelDiscovery Science, and Blindfold Magazine.Harun's work has been featured by various media outlets and has been a subject of a TEDx Talk. 

He is the author of three books including the astrophotography book and time lapse series: SKYGLOW. His videos have been used at various events, most notably by The Rolling Stones 2016 tour, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters 2016 Tour, Desert Trip Concert, Paul Simon's 2018 Farewell Tour, and Cosmic Gate music video "am2pm," and National Park Service’s “100 Years” centennial video; among others. Recently, Harun began work as a cinematographer on Ice on Fire, a Leonardo DiCaprio-produced documentary for HBO due for release, and provided visuals for Akicita, a documentary film which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2018.  

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM is an ongoing quest to explore the effects and dangers of urban light pollution in contrast with some of the most incredible Dark Sky areas in North America. Brainchild of Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic, the book and time lapse video project is produced in collaboration with International Dark-Sky Association (darksky.org)

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Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj: Science in the Wild

Ulyana Horodyskyj, PhD, founder of Science in the Wild, is a professional scientist, National Fellow of The Explorers Club, mission commander of NASA HERA XII, and mountaineer. 

Ulyana developed an interest in science at a young age. In elementary and high school, she was crafting science fair projects and competing at the national and international levels. As a female, she has encountered many professional and personal challenges and has overcome them to earn her PhD and found her own science education company. We need girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) now more than ever! Hear about possibilities for this with Science in the Wild.

In September/October 2016, Ulyana was chosen as mission commander for the NASA Johnson Space Center’s HERA (human exploration research analog) 30-day isolation experiment, simulating a long-duration mission to an asteroid. She was named one of 120 semifinalists out of 18,354 applicants for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class. 

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Paul Bogard: The End of Night

Paul Bogard is the author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. Paul traveled the globe to find the night, blending personal narrative, natural history, health, science, and folklore to shed light on darkness. Showing exactly what we've lost, what we have left, and what we might hope to regain, he attempts nothing less than a restoration of how we see the spectacularly primal, wildly dark night sky.

Paul is editor of the anthology Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark, a collection of essays by twenty-eight writers on the value of darkness and the costs of light pollution. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Los Angeles Times, Outside, Audubon, Conservation, Reader's Digest, National Geographic, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere.

A native Minnesotan, Paul grew up exploring the forest and watching the stars near a lake in the northern part of the state. He has lived and taught in New Mexico, Nevada, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, and is now associate professor of English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he teaches creative nonfiction and environmental literature.  

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John Chumack: Galactic Images

Astrophotography is the art of photographing or imaging objects in deep space, a very unique form of photographic art that requires an extreme amount of patience, time and lots of practice to master. John Chumack is a experienced master of out-of-this-world imagery.

Galactic Images is an international mail order and astrophotography fine art business. In 1989 John began systematically photographing the night sky. After two short years he found his artwork to be in high demand, which prompted the creation of "Galactic Images" in 1992. He travels around the country selling his astrophotographs at fine art shows and numerous galleries, participating in approximately 20 shows a year aside from his normal day job at The University of Dayton’s Research Institute.

His work is sold in 35 foreign countries around the world. Over 800 of his images have been published in many science & astronomy books, software, and major magazines including National Geographic, front cover of Time, Science, Discover, Newsweek, Astronomy and Sky & Telescope, etc.


Workshops

We have a splendid lineup of astrophotography and astronomy presentations which will be posted here when finalized. Stay tuned!

We have a splendid lineup of astrophotography and astronomy presentations which will be posted here when finalized. Stay tuned!


Festivities

One of the most important goals for the Sangre Star Festival is to simply enjoy our community and have a grand time honoring the magnificent gift of the Universe right above us!

Festival satellite venues in town will provide education, entertainment, inspiration, gallery hopping, shopping and vendor opportunities with plenty of outdoor recreation activities thought the day. Attendees will immerse themselves in the wonders of the Wet Mountain Valley and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. During the evening hours, Festival events will primarily take place at the Smokey Jack Observatory and Galaxy Central, aka our Festival hub located at A Painted View Ranch. The Galaxy Arena, also at A Painted View Ranch, will host our tremendous Stellar Speakers, featuring amazing keynote presentations including SKYGLOW, Science in the Wild, The End of Night, and Galactic Images.

Festival activities planned include:

  • Morning hikes on Rainbow Trail (easy) or to an alpine lake (moderate)

  • Live music performances

  • Shop in Festival Pop-up and town shops

  • Art Gallery exhibits

  • Astrophotography & Astronomy presentations

  • Collaborative glow-in-the-dark “Sangre Starry Night” mural painting

  • Bowling and game arcade at Cliff Lanes

  • Horseback riding in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

  • Star Parties at the Smokey Jack Observatory

  • And much more!


Location/Lodging

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The evening epicenter of the Sangre Star Festival, aka “Galaxy Central,” will be based at A Painted View Ranch, just 3 miles west of downtown Westcliffe, CO, nestled in one of the state’s most beautiful and unspoiled areas, the Wet Mountain Valley. Boasting 160 acres, A Painted View Ranch has ample space for evening Festival events, including a large arena for keynote Stellar Speakers, plenty of space for RV and trailer camping (many with electrical hookups), campfire in the Crater Cantina, Xenia’s Hospitality Den exclusively for Dark Sky Defenders, stargazing and astrophotography opportunities to name a few.

The Galaxy Arena, also at A Painted View Ranch, will host our tremendous Stellar Speakers, including cinematographer Harun Mehmedinovic (SKYGLOW, 2018), Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj (Founder, Science in the Wild) and author Paul Bogard (The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light). See amazing galactic images from astrophotographer John Chumack.

Lodging

Limited RV and trailer camping spaces are available at A Painted View Ranch and will be offered along with ticket sales on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2019 as part of the ticket sales process. If interested, please be sure to sign up to our email list at the bottom of this page to receive a special early access ticket link before it is opened to the public. There are 36 RV plug-in sites, and many more dry camping sites for RVs and trailers. While there are no tent camping sites available at A Painted View Ranch, there are many tent camping sites close to Westcliffe, CO. Visit Custer County has a comprehensive list of lodging options, including Airbnb/Camping/Inns in the county.


Gateway Ticketing

Advance ticketing will be done here on our website, with public ticket sales opening up on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2019. The festival is being limited to 500 tickets. If you are interested in obtaining a ticket for yourself or as a great holiday gift for someone else, please be sure to sign up to our email list at the bottom of this page to stay up to date with Festival/Dark Skies news and to receive an exclusive early access ticket link BEFORE tickets are opened to the public!

All Ticket Options Below, except for the Dark Sky Defender, which can be purchased now, will be available on December 21, 2019:

$30 ~ STAR SEEKER: Individual Gateway with access to live music, workshops, festivities in town, on The Bluff, Smokey Jack Observatory, and at Galaxy Central/A Painted View Ranch.

$50 ~ GLOBULAR STAR CLUSTER: Limited Family Gateway, tickets for 2 adults and children under 18 with access to festivities in town, at The Bluff Park, Smokey Jack Observatory, and at Galaxy Central/A Painted View Ranch.

$100 ~ OPEN STAR CLUSTER: Expanded Family Gateway, tickets for 2 adults and children under 18 with access to live music performances, workshops, festivities in town, at The Bluff Park, Smokey Jack Observatory, and at Galaxy Central/A Painted View Ranch.

$250 ~ DARK SKY DEFENDER: A stellar three day, all encompassing festival experience including deluxe-edition souvenir swag, reserved prime seating for programs in the Galaxy Central Arena, exclusive entry into Xenia’s Hospitality Den, Sunday night celebration dinner with our Stellar Speakers an all other Festival activities. Please contact Debbie Adams at festival@darkskiescolorado.org to secure yourself as a Dark Sky Defender!


We are seeking Bright Star Sponsors to boldly go where no one has gone before to provide financial strength and company presence to support the first ever Sangre Star Festival in the Wet Mountain Valley of Westcliffe, CO. With astro-tourism being a top travel trend, we expect to be at full capacity. All net proceeds of the Festival will benefit the Dark Skies STEM Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships of $5,000 per year for four years to qualified applicants seeking a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related university degree. Sponsorship tiers range from $5000 to $250, each of which includes different bundles of VIP extras, private dinner with our Stellar Speakers, workshop co-branding, advertising, Festival Gateway entries, and more.

If you would like more details to come aboard the Star Festival Endeavor and be part of this exciting sponsorship opportunity, you can download our Bright Star Sponsorship sign-up forms now or contact Debbie Adams via festival@darkskiescolorado.org for more information. Please be sure to sign up by September 3, 2019 to guarantee inclusion in all Festival publications, press, and marketing. We greatly appreciate your consideration and generosity to be a Bright Star in the Sangre Star Festival!