Great Chamber in Kane County   |  Marcin Zając
A Photo Essay

Following the Stars

An award-winning photographer turns his lens on Utah's spectacular dark skies.

Photography By Marcin Zając

For our ancestors, the observable universe beyond our atmosphere was of the utmost significance. The starry night sky once served as the sole reference for when to plant crops and inspired myths that remain culturally relevant today. Now with so much of the world in perpetual twilight, many never see a naturally dark night sky. Utah however, part of The Great Western Starry Way of the Intermountain West, is lucky to boast the highest concentration of internationally-certified dark sky locations in the world.

Marcin Zając, an internationally acclaimed photographer, has perfected the craft of exposing what is usually invisible to the naked eye. Here he sets out on a quest to capture the brilliance of Southern Utah's dark skies. Using advanced techniques combined with a keen eye for composition, Zając shows us the magnitude of our universe that's visible from Utah's spectacular landscapes.

Share
Dark-Sky_South_Mexican-Hat_Castle-Butte_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Valley-Of-The-Gods

Valley of the Gods is located in the southeastern corner of the state. While similar to the geography found at Monument Valley to the south, this Bureau of Land Management area sees much less traffic, thereby adding solitude to its many virtues.


 
Dark-Sky_South_Capitol-Reef_Cathedral-Valley_Temple-Of-The-Sun_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Temple

Southwest of Arches, lies Capitol Reef National Park. It’s remote Cathedral district has some of the most stunning views around, including the iconic monolith, Temple of the Sun.


 
Dark-Sky_South_Bryce-Canyon_Thors-Hammer_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Bryce

Southwest of Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon National Park has one of the nation’s oldest astronomy programs.

Dark-Sky_Bryce-Canyon_Hoodoo_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Crop

Bryce Canyon is known for its crimson-colored “hoodoos,” which are spire-shaped rock formations. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path.

Dark-Sky_South_Zion_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Watchman

Continuing to the southwest corner of the state, Zion National Park falls under a dark sky of endless stars. Many visitors may gaze into Zion’s dark skies to find more stars than they’ve ever seen before. When you enter the park, you leave the ambient light of every-day life, making every detail of the night sky more visible.


 
Dark-Sky_South_Paria_Kanab_Red-Toadstool_Zajac-Marcin_2023_Toadstools

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the south-central region of the state is home to The Toadstools. The balanced rock formations here look like mushrooms and offer awe-inspiring views that enchant. The toadstools are easy to access along an easy to moderate 1.5-mile round-trip hike.


 
Dark-Sky_South_Lake-Powell_Reflection-Canyon_Zajac-Marcin_2023

Just east of Grand Staircase lies the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This Milky Way vantage point at Reflection Canyon is like no other, but its lengthy out-and-back hike requires endurance and preparation.

Stargazing in Utah

Of the vast amount of certified International Dark Sky Parks and Communities that are part of a catalog of the finest dark skies in the world, the highest concentration are in Utah. Explore the statewide locations and make plans for experiencing natural wonders after the sun sets.

Explore Dark Sky Locations

Utah's Certified Dark Sky Parks

Previous Image Next Image