Chiricahua National Monument Offers Dark Sky Viewing Programs Beginning This Weekend
Contact: Julena Campbell, Public Affairs Officer, 520-824-3560, ext. 307
Chiricahua National Monument (NM) Superintendent H. Lane Baker announced today that the monument will offer a series of ranger-led dark sky viewing opportunities this winter. "The Chiricahua Mountains are in an area of spectacular dark night skies," said Baker. "Some of the world's largest telescopes are located on nearby peaks for just that reason. Many people have never experienced truly dark skies; we are excited for the opportunity to share the wonder and secrets of our dark skies with the public."
The free programs are held at the Echo Canyon parking area, at 6780 feet, and attendees are reminded to dress warmly to be comfortable at that elevation. Participants are welcome to bring a chair, blankets, hot beverages, and a flashlight. Red lens flashlights (to help preserve night vision) are available for purchase at the monument's visitor center, open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. In recognition of the programs, Western National Parks Association, the non-profit partner that operates the visitor center store, will offer at 15 % discount on all dark sky related items on the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays of each event.
To ease traffic congestion in the program area, a free shuttle will be offered 30 minutes before the program start time from the Chiricahua NM visitor center parking lot. Participants are also welcome to drive their own vehicles to the Echo Canyon parking area before the program starts. Care should be taken to limit the amount of light from headlights as the program time approaches and during the program. Programs will be cancelled in the event of overcast skies. Call the visitor center staff at 520-824-3560, ext. 0 for more information or to confirm program status.
Saturday, January 18, 7:00 – 9:00 pm*
The moon has always been the subject of fascination, legend and science. Join a ranger to take a good look at the full moon and possibly the planets Jupiter and Neptune as well! *Shuttle from the visitor center is not available this night; participants should drive directly to the Echo Canyon parking area before 7 pm.
Saturday, February 8, 7:30 – 9:30 pm
A not quite full moon celebration! Did you know that is the best time to view it? We will look at the moon and hear about the facts, myths, and legends and possibly get a good look at the planet Jupiter as well.
Saturday, March 22, 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Another not quite full moon celebration! Did you know that is the best to view it? We will look at the moon and hear about the facts, myths, and legends and possibly get a good look at the planets Mars and Jupiter as well.
Saturday, March 29, 8:00 – 10:00 pm
Join a ranger for Mars Fest 2014! On this new moon night we will look at the red planet, Mars. Did you know that it has icy poles like earth? We will possibly get a good look at the planet Jupiter as well.
Saturday, April 12, 8:30 – 10:30 pm
The planet Saturn and its rings will be coming into view, and we will have another not quite full moon night which is the best time to look at its rock surface.