Outdoors blog

Stargazing at Steptoe Butte on parks cultural calendar

In this April 20, 2011 photo provided by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope captures a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy. A series of uncommon spiral patterns in the large galaxy is a tell-tale sign of interaction. Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard Discovery's STS-31 mission.  (NASA / Associated Press)
In this April 20, 2011 photo provided by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope captures a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy. A series of uncommon spiral patterns in the large galaxy is a tell-tale sign of interaction. Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard Discovery's STS-31 mission. (NASA / Associated Press)

STATE PARKS -- A Sept. 7 night of star gazing with expert astronomers south of Spokane at Steptoe Butte State Park catches my eye in this list of upcoming free cultural events scheduled during the year-long Washington State Parks Centennial Celebration.

Here's the remaining schedule of events:

  • Gig Harbor area State Parks: Get your Feet Wet programs, now through Aug. 20, at Kopachuck, Penrose Point and Joemma Beach. Harbor Wildwatch leads beach exploration and marine touch and explore activities, including “stump the biologist.” Programs run mornings starting around 9 a.m. for kids out of school on summer vacation.
  • Birch Bay State Park near Bellingham: Concerts in the Park, evenings Aug. 24 and 30, the Wildlife Theater. Celtic Roots performs at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, and “Wingin’ It” performs at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
  • State parks around Washington: Painting in the Parks, now into September. Plein Air Washington Artists, an outdoor artist group, is sending small groups of artists out to paint the day away in various park settings, and spectators are invited to stop by and chat. Find them in Palouse Falls-area state parks Aug. 22 to 25; Sept. 6 and 7 at Rasar State Park near Concrete on Highway 20; Sept. 20 and 21 at Olmstead Place historic homestead near Cle Elum. A juried show of their park paintings is scheduled for Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, at American Art Company, Tacoma.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Beach Art Festival, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 24. Create drawings or sculptures using found objects, and build on the beach. A fun family activity sponsored by the Cama Beach Foundation. For more information visit camabeachfoundation.org.
  • Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, Grand Coulee: On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods, 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 24. Head to the Dry Falls Visitor Center for views of the dramatic landscape created by Ice Age floods, and meet geologist author Bruce Bjornstad, signing his “Ice Age Floods” trail series.
  • Saltwater State Park near Federal Way: Show Brazil, 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 24: Show Brazil celebrates the culture of Brazil, with music and dance forms including bossa nova, samba, Brazilian popular music and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form performed to music. A Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks event sponsored in part by the Washington State Parks Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission and Washington Heritage Resources.
  • Peace Arch State Park, Blaine: Enjoy the final two concerts in a multi-cultural series. Auicha Machis, music of the Andes is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 25. Pava, a Russian Women’s a capella group performs at 2 p.m. Sept. 1. Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks series.
  • Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island: Eric Miller Band at 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Visit Battery Bankhead on concert night to hear American folk with subtleties of rock, country and blues. The acoustics are great. This concert has an $8 admission for adopts; children under 13 are admitted for free.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Discover Sail Cam Isle Regatta all day Aug. 31, at Cama Beach boat house. Celebrate the art of small boat sailing with activities for all ages, and participate in sailing races or view different types of small boats.
  • Saltwater State Park in Federal Way: Cambodian Cultural Celebration, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 31. Celebrate Cambodian culture with the South Puget Sound Cambodian community, through performances of traditional music and dance, games. Traditional food available for purchase.
  • Steptoe Butte State Park near Colfax: A night of star gazing, 7:15 p.m. Sept. 7, Steptoe Butte State Park: Join park rangers from Riverside State Park and members of the Spokane Astronomical Society, to view Saturn, Mercury and Venus at Sunset, from atop Steptoe Butte, a popular Palouse view site near Colfax. Guides will provide a tour of the night sky and show visitors how to find the North Star. Call (509) 465-5064 for details.
  • Grand Coulee area: Flood Fest, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14, Dry Falls Visitor Center, Grand Coulee area: This Centennial event focuses on the Ice Age floods that carved much of Washington’s landscape, with local geology experts, tours of unique geologic features, booths attended by local vendors, authors, Native American tribes and government agencies. Food available for purchase. The event is in partnership with the Ice Age Flood Institute and the Coulee Corridor Consortium.



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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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