America's Darkest Sky Star Party planned for October 13-14, 2017

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The dark skies of the American southwest are priceless for astronomical observers. Photo by Tony Hallas.

Dark Sky New Mexico has planned its second star party for observers and astroimagers for October 13–14, 2017, in Animas, New Mexico. As astronomy enthusiasts know, enjoying a world-class dark sky is increasingly hard for the majority of people in the world. In the United States, about 80 percent of the population lives in places where it cannot see the Milky Way. That‘s a sad state of affairs, and so truly dark sky star parties like this one are becoming far more important to those who want to observe, image, and enjoy star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. 

The two-day star party is organized by Dark Sky New Mexico, a group promoting dark-sky astronomy and offering observatory sites, telescope pads, and opportunities to visit for on-site observing and imaging as well as remote, robotic telescope access. 

I’ve been all around the astronomy world, and trust me — the skies here are among the very best in the United States. It is magnificently dark in this area. With the telescopes on hand and these skies, there’s essentially nothing you can’t observe or image. It is truly an astronomer’s paradise. 

The star party will offer not only dark skies for viewing and imaging, but talks by astronomers including Astronomy Magazine Senior Editor Michael Bakich and myself. We will be on hand and will spend time with everyone at the party, observing and sharing info about deep-sky objects and all manner of astronomical topics. There will also be expert imagers on hand to discuss photography from the site. And the event will be cosponsored by The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, members of which will be on hand with telescopes for optical viewing. 

On Friday, October 13, attendees will arrive and check into their hotels, we’ll have a welcome ceremony, conduct a tour of the observatories on site, and get right into dark-sky observing. 

The following day, Saturday, will feature a fuller program. We’ll have an optional tour to the Chiricahua Desert Museum, a lunch, six lectures throughout the morning and afternoon — including some by Bakich and Eicher — and breaks with solar observing on site. We’ll then have a lecture in which Bakich will describe the night sky and featured objects in detail, after which we’ll have a long night of observing and imaging, interrupted only by door prize giveaways. 

If you have not observed under a really dark sky, I encourage you to come to this star party. It will change the way you see the universe. If you are looking for a place for a remote telescope you can use for imaging, it would be very difficult to think of a better site. Join us, check out the site, and see what you think. You’ll be blown away. 

Not only is the DSNM site remote and world-class in terms of sky quality, but it’s also accessible. Animas is a 2-1/2-hour drive from Tucson, El Paso, or Las Cruces. It’s a 4-hour drive from Phoenix. It‘s a 4-1/2-hour drive from Albuquerque. A relatively short drive to go from a bustling city to a world-class sky? That’s a dream for amateur astronomers the world over. This fall, you can make that dream a reality. 

For more on the star party and to register, see https://darkskynewmexico.com/blog/2017/8/1/registration

I’ll see you in New Mexico this fall!

Details follow:

America's Darkest Sky Star Party

Animas, New Mexico, October 13–14, 2017

Join Astronomy magazine editors, authors, and well-known deep-sky observers Dave Eicher and Michael Bakich for a 2-day star party and seminar in Animas, New Mexico hosted by Dark Sky New Mexico (DSNM) and The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS). This event will include dark sky observing under the best sky in the United States, viewing deep-sky treasures through a variety of telescopes, and a daylong seminar of exclusive talks from Eicher and Bakich.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2017 - 6:30 pm to midnight
(Moon sets-3:08 pm|Sunset–6:46 pm|Astronomical Twilight-8:06 pm|Moon rises-1:08 am)

Dark Sky New Mexico - Washburn Road, Animas NM

6:30 – 7:00 pm Arrival/Check-in

7:00 – 7:30 pm Welcome

7:30 - 8:30 pm On-site Observatories tour

8:30 – 9:00 pm Star & Constellation Tour (Michael Bakich)

9:00 – midnight Dark Sky Observing (TAAS members)


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017 - 10:00 am - midnight 
(Moon sets-3:54 pm|Sunset–6:44 pm|Astronomical Twilight-8:05 pm|Moon rises-2:10 am)

Chiricahua Desert Museum NM-80 & Portal Road, Rodeo, NM

10:00 – 11:00 am Optional Tour – Chiricahua Desert Museum

Animas Community Center - 21 Maverick Road, Animas, NM

11:30 - 12:30 pm Lunch

12:30 - 1:00 Guest Speaker/Lecture pm #1

1:00 - 1:30 pm Guest Speaker/Lecture #2

1:30 - 2:00 pm Guest Speaker/Lecture #3

2:00 - 2:30 pm Break/Solar Observing (TAAS)

2:30 - 3:00 pm Guest Speaker/Lecture #4

3:00 - 3:30 pm Guest Speaker/Lecture #5

3:30 - 4:00 pm Guest Speaker/Lecture #6

Dark Sky New Mexico - Washburn Road, Animas NM

7:00 - 8:00 pm Supper

8:00 - 8:30 pm Michael Bakich/Lecture #7 – The Twilight Sky

8:30 – Midnight Dark Sky Observing (TAAS members)

10:00 pm Door Prizes

Hotel accommodations are available in nearby Lordsburg, New Mexico.

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