Star Party At Kitt Peak
by admin ·
I had the pleasure of attending a small star party the other night on top of Kitt Peak in southern Arizona. For those of you not familiar with the name, it is home to the Kitt Peak National Observatory. We had a smallish moon to contend with throughout the night, but it was a wonderful experience nonetheless. Skies were amazingly clear and otherwise dark. The star party was organized as a side event for attendees of the International Dark Sky Association’s 20th annual general meeting which I was in town for.
We got a tour of the facilities which are home to a battery of telescopes ranging in size from small personal telescopes to the giant 4 meter telescope. Our portion of the star party had us under the dome at the visitor center (seen behind me in the accompanying image) taking in the sky with a 20″ RC telescope. Our “guide” showed us the planet Saturn, The Ring Nebula (M57), globular cluster M5 and galaxy M82. Each showed an amazing amount of detail… offered only to observers viewing under dark skies. Those of you under light polluted skies… sorry about this. You’ll need to arrange a road trip if you’d like to truly enjoy these objects.
On a related note, the accompanying image was taken by fellow dark sky warrior, Lance Diskan. Lance is the founder of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition. Given that Flagstaff has the distinction of being The International Dark Sky Association’s First Dark Sky City, it’s obvious that Lance carries some serious dark sky credentials. Lance and his team over at Flagstaff Dark Skies are working tirelessly to protect and preserve the dark, star-filled skies above Flagstaff. All sky watchers owe these guys a debt of gratitude, not just those in Flagstaff. Their accomplishments just go to show what a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish. I find it absolutely amazing that such a small portion of those who love the night sky actually do anything at all to protect it. This is a sad commentary on our society. We need more people like Lance to show up at planning commission meetings and tell them that we are sick and tired of the crummy lights that are regularly installed. If just a small number of folks showed up at each community, we could make some serious head way.