Wild Under the Stars
With some of the darkest skies in the greater Triangle & Triad area, the Animal Park at the Conservators Center offers superb viewing conditions for astronomical events and phenomena. In the evening of Saturday, April 22, 2023, and into Sunday morning, join us in the Activity Field and Green Space by our Visitors Center to view the Lyrid Meteor Shower! You’ll have an unobstructed view of the sky with opportunities to view the entire event throughout the late night and early morning. This time of year also presents excellent viewing opportunities for the Moon, Venus, and Mars as well as many other Deep-Sky Objects, like other galaxies, nabulæ, and binary star systems, visible with your binoculars or telescope! The Moon this year will be early in its waxing crescent phase, around 10%, with an early moonset on Saturday evening, meaning that the sky will be very dark and meteors should be especially visible under optimal cloud conditions.
What makes this viewing party unique, however, is the company you’ll keep. Our park of over 70 animals features a large population of vocal, social carnivores including lions and wolves, as well as other vocal species like jungle cats, a coyote, and New Guinea singing dogs, who will all keep you enthralled with their chorus of howls, roars, and calls. It’s an experience unlike any other!
The Park gates will open at 5:30 pm, and we invite you to join us at 6:00 pm for a unique Twilight Tour through the park before the viewing party begins at 11 pm, or skip the tour to set up camp with your tent and telescope at 9 pm! Whichever option you choose, you’ll have an excellent viewing opportunity of this event and the other celestial objects available in the night sky. (Please keep in mind that there is no meal provided as part of this event. Guests who come for the Twilight Tour are encouraged to bring a dinner meal or to plan to pick up a dinner meal in Mebane, NC after the tour and return for the Viewing Party.) The best time to view the meteor shower will be just before sunrise on Sunday morning, so make it an evening of star gazing before bed and then get up early to see the shower!
Please note: The Wild Under the Stars Tour is different from our normal Twilight Tours! This is an abbreviated tour that lasts roughly 45 minutes to an hour and serves to introduce the tour group to the animals in the park and the sounds they make that visitors may hear throughout the night. We do not discuss many science-heavy topics nor animal stories. For these experiences, we encourage visitors to return to the Park for one of our Adventure or Twilight Tours available each weekend.
Wild Under the Stars offers a discounted (additional purchase) pre-viewing party tour through the Animal Park for visitors who will be purchasing admission to the starlight viewing party and also, for an additional fee, the opportunity to camp out all night and enjoy the entire meteor shower. All participants will have access to the Visitors Center throughout the event for restroom access.
Pre-registration is required, guests will not be admitted without a ticket.
Viewing party event is contingent on weather conditions, cancellation due to weather will be communicated to ticket holders by email 24 hours in advance if necessary. Guests are responsible for bringing their own telescope, binoculars, or other viewing equipment, The Animal Park will not have extras available for use. Please arrive on time to set up your viewing equipment, our exterior lights will go RED at sunset.
Event Viewing Opportunity
Lyrid Meteor Shower
The Lyrids is an April meteor shower associated with Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. The Lyrids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Lyra, near its brightest star, Vega: the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky.Wikipedia
April Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2. However, some meteors can be brighter, known as "Lyrid fireballs", cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.Wikipedia
Other Viewing Opportunities
Phase: Waxing Crescent (10%)
Rise:07:39, 22 April
Set: 21:56, 22 April
Rise: 07:37, 22 April
Set: 22:19, 23 April
Rise: 09:54, 22 April
Set: 00:39, 23 April
3-Day Clear Sky Forecast
Click on the forecast image above to go to www.ClearDarkSky.com to learn how to read the forecast graphic.
There are four attendance options to choose from for Wild Under the Stars:
- Star Party: 11pm – 3:30am, $8
- Star Party & Tour: 6:50pm – 3:30am, $18
- Camp-out: 9pm – 8am, $23
- The Full Experience: 6:30pm – 8am, $30
Choose the option that's best for you and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Animal Park under the stars!
This may be your first astronomical viewing party, or you may be a seasoned veteran, but we have a few suggestions to help you enjoy the night under the stars regardless of your experience level. You may want to bring some, if not all, of the following items with you to the star party:
- A Camera
- A Telescope
- Folding Chairs
- Star Maps
- A Compass
- Insect Repellant (seasonally)
Believe it or not, all the photos on this page were taken with simple 30-second exposures at the Animal Park, so a camera is a great, fun way to enjoy a star party. See what you can capture while you watch the sky! Binoculars and telescopes are also a great way to enjoy the evening under the stars for obvious reasons, even if the star party's main event is a meteor shower, it's always fun to get a closer look at planets, nebulæ, stars, the Moon, and other objects in the night sky. Chairs, blankets, and towels are an essential part of any star party viewing experience, as well as something to stay hydrated and snack on. And a star map and compass will help keep yourself oriented and find what you're looking for in the night sky! Dress appropriately for the season and the weather, and come prepared to enjoy the evening.
You are welcome to bring a propane camp grill to cook out on site. Charcoal grills are not allowed. Grills must be manned and maintained at all times.
Please remember the golden rule of any outdoor excursion, "Pack In, Pack Out." Dispose of any trash you generate in the appropriate receptacles at the Visitors Center to help keep our Green Space clean.
Upcoming Wild Under the Stars Dates
Plan your next Wild Under the Stars experience at the Animal Park at the Conservators Center! This Recurring Event takes place every few months throughout the year focused around special astronomical events. Upcoming dates are listed below. Please pay special attention to this page and the Animal Park newsletter for announcements and updates when reservations open for each event!
2023 Wild Under the Stars Dates:
Check back in January 2023 for next year's event dates!
Know Before You Go
Accessibility, Safety, and Pets
The Animal Park is not wheelchair accessible; however, accessibility accommodations are available for visitors with mobility issues. Please note that we are not able to allow unauthorized vehicles, including scooters or motorized wheelchairs, in the park. Find more information about disability accommodations and access in the Tour FAQ on our Plan Your Visit page. Please note that children's strollers or wagons also are not permitted in the park.
If you are planning to visit the Animal Park, please take a moment to review and complete our online tour waiver. If you like, you can download and print the waiver and photography release forms to fill out and complete prior to your arrival. Waivers will also be available in the gift shop for visitors to complete during check-in.
For safety reasons, the Animal Park cannot allow visitors to bring pets on site. Any visitor who brings an animal to the Park will be asked to leave immediately. No animals may be left unattended in a vehicle.