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Alpine Dark Sky Party
April 24, 2009 @ 12:00 am
The purpose of the Dark Sky Party at Sierra la Rana is to expose the general public to the marvels of astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies - not just for astronomy purposes which is crucial to the McDonald Observatory, but also for the values that darkness provides to area wildlife.
The Sierra la Rana Dark Sky Party will be held in the Astronomy Village The entrance for Sierra la Rana is located 2 miles south of Alpine on highway 118 and the Astronomy Village is located at the top of High Lonesome Drive (View the Map Here).
We will have a slide show and discussion starting at 8:15PM followed by viewing through telescopes. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, sweaters and chairs for use in the Astronomy Village viewing area. Those of you with telescopes are encouraged to set up on one of our telescope pads.
Sierra la Rana is a Dark Sky Friendly Community with an Astronomy Village and common area with telescope pads for stellar viewing. We are working with the International Dark Sky Association to have Sierra la Rana designated as a “Development of Distinction.”
West of the Pecos the night skies have long been an iconic element of the landscape, a tradition that dates back centuries to the days of the dreaded Comanche Moon. More recently, the nighttime vistas have been the subject of endless scrutiny by astronomers just 17 miles north of Fort Davis at the world renowned University of Texas McDonald Observatory atop 6,800-foot Mount Locke. Located far from the lights of larger cities and the clouds of coastal Texas, the observatory has four research telescopes and state-of-the-art instrumentation for imaging and spectroscopy. The Big Bend Region is one of the darkest in the continental US. These same reasons have enticed thousands of amateur as well as a good number of professional astronomers to the Texas Star Party, an annual gathering in the Davis Mountains that got its start in 1979 when the Austin Astronomical Society joined forces with the observatory. Held in late April or early May, the Texas Star Party has become so popular that it now ranks as one of the largest gatherings of astronomers in North America.
Members of the Texas Star Party have agreed to moderate the first Sierra la Rana Dark Sky Party.
Sierra la Rana is an environmentally intelligent community located in the Davis Mountains of the Big Bend and was chosen as the site for the Dark Sky Festival for several reasons:
* Sierra la Rana Astronomy Village, where the event is held, is in one of the darkest regions of the continental US.
* The developer has committed to protecting dark skies.
THIS YEAR'S LINE UP
Paul Derrick is an active and charter member of the Central Texas Astronomical Society and a participant and presenter at the Texas Star Party. Paul will orient the audience to the sky by pointing out the planets, stars and constellations overhead.
* is author of the "Stargazer" column published in the Waco Tribune-Herald and other newspapers. Originated in January 1990, "Stargazer" appears every other week.
* teaches amateur astronomy short-courses. Designed for novice stargazers, Paul's courses include indoor sessions and field observation. They require no equipment or prior knowledge.
* conducts public and private amateur astronomy slide programs and star parties for children and adults in schools, camps, parks and other settings.
* is author of (A Beginner's Guide to) Learning the Night Sky (2003) and Stargazer's Life List (2004).
Come early to experience Sierra la Rana and to view our wildlife.
We are looking for volunteers for the following:
1.Volunteers with telescopes who would like to set up on one of the 8 telescope pads.
2.Volunteers to assist with parking and directions along the route to the Astronomy Village.
3.Please contact Sierra la Rana if you would like to volunteer.
If you plan to attend the Dark Sky Party please RSVP so that we can have an idea of how many will be attending. No white lights after sundown in the observers area. Allow yourself to become dark-adapted and see all that you can see. Please bring a red light if you have one.
Dark Sky Party Information: telephone 817-975-8736 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.