As I’ve said repeatedly, one of the gravest dangers a love of the universe poses is the lack of a dark sky. Light pollution maps show almost everything east of the Mississippi River, in the United States, as badly light polluted. Some 80 percent of Americans now cannot see the Milky Way from where they live.
One of the greatest skies in the United States looms over southwestern New Mexico. Near Animas, a tiny village, Dark Sky New Mexico put on a star party October 13–14, 2017, that was a marvelous success. Altogether, some 50 people arrived at the ranch where this group has established telescopes for viewing and for high-end imaging. The group, whose website is here: https://darkskynewmexico.com/, already has some two dozen scopes on the property. Dedicated amateur astronomers can place a scope in this spectacular sky to conduct remote viewing or imaging from wherever they live. On this magnificent and warm October weekend, we got together to celebrate the cosmos.
Using the 20-inch PlaneWave scope owned by Al Acker and Rex Groves, we had some of the very best views of planetary nebulae and galaxies I’ve *ever* seen, including Stephan’s Quintet, NGC 7008, NGC 40, NGC 6826, and many, many others. It was a spectacular night even by the standards of this amazing site.
Astronomy Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I traveled to the star party and each gave talks: Michael on star death and me on galaxies, a prelude to the Random House book I’m now writing.
We also had great talks from officers of the Albuquerque Astronomical Society, the club helping to sponsor the event. Dee Friesen spoke about the club’s amazing observational outreach programs — they won Astronomy’s Outreach Award several years ago — and Dale Murray talked about telescope types and how to choose a scope that’s right for you.
As always, I brought my Canon 6D camera along, and just for fun, set the ISO to 25,600, wandering off to take some wide field images by simply bracing the camera on my rental car, on Clyde Tombaugh’s 16-inch telescope, which stands on the site, or elsewhere. I show you the hurried results here.
Dark Sky New Mexico is trying to establish an important community for dark sky observers and astroimagers who want access to a world-class sky but cannot be there on site all the time. I heartily encourage you to check them out, and to support their valiant efforts.
Many thanks to Larry Rosenberg, Michael Hensley, Steven Blum, and the whole DSNM crew for a job well done.
The star party, which will be held near Animas, New Mexico, will take place under some of the darkest skies in the continental United States, perfect for deep-sky viewing and also for astroimaging. Moreover, Astronomy Magazine Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I will be on hand to deliver several talks and to observe and collaborate with you. I’ll be speaking on the science of galaxies, while Michael will be describing the sights visible in the sky during the two nights of observing.
For more information, and to register, click here.Read More
In addition to incredible star viewing opportunities, DSNM’s Star Party on October 13th and 14th will feature four excellent presentations from well known astronomy personalties. Dale Murray, President of TAAS, will be the first speaker, presenting "Basic Telescope and Mount Designs.” Next will be the Senior Editor of Astronomy Magazine, Michael Bakich, presenting on “Star Deaths.” TAAS member Dee Friesan will begin the afternoon session. His talk is called the “Fabulous 50, Fall Version.” David Eicher, Astronomy Magazine Editor, will end the day with his presentation on “The Science of Galaxies.”Read More
On Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14, Dark Sky New Mexico (DSNM) and The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will host a star party in southwestern New Mexico. The second America’s Darkest Sky Star Party will occur in Animas, New Mexico, a lovely area dominated by antique silver mining that now boasts one of the best skies in the world for stargazing.
Astronomy magazine Editor David Eicher and Senior Editor Michael Bakich, well known astronomy personalities, will be your hosts to all things celestial. If you’re wondering whether you should join us, here are 12 things that might help you make up your mind.Read More
"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."Read More
Join Astronomy Magazine editors, authors, and well-known deep-sky observers Dave Eicher and Michael Bakich on October 13th & 14th 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. Click read more to register.
"Three astroimagers who had observatories at DSNM kindly provided guided tours of their facilities. Wow! These were impressive structures indeed. All had remote control ability and contained multiple telescopes. When one of the owners talked about his recently purchased 20-inch telescope that should be arriving soon, my knees went weak. If I had that large a scope in such a pristine location, I literally would disappear for weeks at a time," says Michael E. Bakich, senior editor of Astronomy and an experienced observer of the night sky in this feature in Astronomy Magazine
The new ownership team would like to welcome you to Dark Sky New Mexico (at the site formerly known as Rancho Hidalgo). It is our goal to make Dark Sky the place to be for astrophotography.Read More
On February 4-5, 2017, ten TEDxABQ Adventurers made their way out to Animas, NM, to attend a Dark Sky New Mexico opportunity to view space. The group was met by host, Michael Hensley, and our guide astrophotographer, Al Acker.Read More
“It’s incredible when you see what’s out there. It never ceases to amaze me," says Bernard Miller, a Phoenix-based computer science engineer who keeps a telescope at Dark Sky New Mexico. Read the full article in the Albuquerque Journal.