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Past Events

Updated: 30 December 2015

Since its formation in April 2014, the Oracle Dark Skies Committee has been attending various events around Oracle and Pinal County to talk about its work to have Oracle State Park designated as an "International Dark Sky Park". The Committee also does public outreach on the effects of Light Pollution and how everyone can help reduce the problem and save money as well. Some selected past events are mentioned here.

If you would like a Committee member to talk to your company, organization, or group of local residents, please contact Mike Weasner (520-289-3402 or mweasner@mac.com).

El Rancho Robles guest ranch, 29 December 2015

Three members of the ODSC (Mike, Charlotte, and Wendy) did a little star party for 21 guests at El Rancho Robles in Oracle, Tuesday, 29 December. We arrived at 5pm to set up. Mike brought his Meade ETX-105PE telescope. We set up a table of information on light pollution (provided by the International Dark-Sky Association) and Oracle State Park. After setting up the telescope and while waiting for the guests to finish their dinner, we observed the double star Albireo in the telescope against the bright evening twilight sky. The colors of the two stars were very obvious. A little later Mike took this handheld photo of Albireo using an iPhone 6s Plus:


The guests came outside about 7pm and stayed until about 8pm. During that time we welcomed them to our dark skies, talked about light pollution, did a demonstration of one of the effects of light pollution, and of course, did some viewing through the telescope. The guests got to view the double star Albireo, the Double Cluster open star clusters, the Pleiades star cluster, the M15 globular cluster, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Orion Nebula. The night sky was beautiful with the Milky Way overhead and Orion rising over some trees. When we finished the temperature was down to 30°F, but everyone survived and enjoyed the night in Oracle.

Mt Lemmon SkyCenter Astrophotography Exhibit Closing & Talk, Oracle State Park, 20 December 2015

The Astrophotography Exhibit at the Kannally Ranch House, which opened on 7 November 2015, closed on Sunday, 20 December. Here are some scenes from the closing:

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Photos courtesy of Evaline Auerbach

Jennifer Rinio, Park Ranger, then introduced Adam Block, University of Arizona Mt Lemmon SkyCenter, who did the astrophotography:


Photos by Mike Weasner

Adam discussed a range of topics during his presentation on how and why he does his award winning and awe-inspiring images:


Photos by Mike Weasner

The presentation was greatly appreciated by those who attended the Astrophotography Exhibit. A report on Adam's presentation has been prepared by Evaline Auerbach. We hope to have Adam back again in 2016 for another one.

More information about the SkyCenter is available on their web site: http://www.skycenter.arizona.edu.

Mt Lemmon SkyCenter Astrophotography Exhibit, Oracle State Park, 7 November through 20 December 2015

Adam Block of the University of Arizona's Mt Lemmon SkyCenter, is recognized around the world as a leading astrophotographer. The images he produces as part of public outreach programs are published in magazines, books, posters and widely on the Internet. He was the 2012 recipient of the Hubble Award among several notable highlights to his career. Six of his out-of-this-world images are on display at the Kannally Ranch House through Sunday, 20 December. On Sunday, December 20, Adam Block will offer a presentation and film at the park for the public, 3-4pm.

An Exhibit Grand Opening was held on Saturday, 7 November, with an introduction to astrophotography and Block's work by Mike Weasner, local amateur astronomer, astrophotographer, and Chair of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee. Refreshments were provided by the Oracle Dark Skies Committee.

Photo courtesy of MaryHelen Vasquez

Photo by Mike Weasner

Commercial: new "Star Trails over Kannally Ranch House" postcard, available in the Oracle State Park Gift Ship
Photo courtesy of MaryHelen Vasquez

Beginner Digital Astrophotography, Oracle State Park, Saturday, 17 October 2015


Local amateur astronomer, Mike Weasner, conducted this introductory program that included a description of camera equipment options, such as point and shoot, DSLR or any smart phone, for beginners to learn to take astro photos. This was the setup in the Kannally Ranch House living room well before the start of the workshop:


Mike shared techniques for using any digital camera for hand-held photography at night, and in combination with a tripod or telescope. There was to have been a ‘play session’ after sunset using moon and planets for night sky photography using one of the Park's telescopes, but clouds and storms in the area prevented that.

Star Party with Telescopes and Live Music, Oracle State Park, Saturday, 10 October 2015 [NEW!

Before dark there was live music on the ranch house patio with Michael P. and the Gullywashers of Tucson, performing Soul and Funk, with a Surf instrumental twist. Then there was stargazing from at the Kannally Ranch House with telescopes provided by Tucson Amateur Astronomers Association, Saddlebrooke Stargazers Club and the International Dark Sky Association. Click to read the full report.

American Flag Ranch Re-opening, 26 September 2015

The Oracle Dark Skies Committee had an information booth at the re-opening of Oracle Historical Society's historic American Flag Ranch, 11am - 4pm. The event included tours of the recently restored ranch house, historic displays, local musicians, information booths and local food providers. Here are two members of the Committee at the booth:


Many people stopped by the Committee's booth to express their appreciation of the Committee's work to have Oracle State Park designated as an IDA "International Dark Sky Park" in 2014 and its ongoing efforts to preserve the local area dark sky.

This is the territorial post office:


At 2pm, there was an awards ceremony to acknowledge those who spearheaded this project over the past 15 years, followed by a flag-raising of a replica of the 34-star American flag that few over the territorial post office in the 1880s.

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"Bat Night", Oracle State Park, 25 July 2015

Bat Night began at 7:30pm at the Kannally Ranch House with a 30 minute PowerPoint introduction to the bats of Arizona by Research Ecologist and Regional Manager for Arizona Game and Fish, Joel Diamond, Ph.D. The talk was followed by a netting event. This evening program was an opportunity to learn more about bats and get up close and personal to some of the flying mammal species living in our neighborhood.

You can see some photos taken by Mike Weasner on the "Bat Night" web page.

Guided Night Walk and Lunar Viewing with Binoculars, Oracle State Park, 27 June 2015

Rained out.

Evening Program "Storytelling Sky Tour", Oracle State Park, 6 June 2015

Park Ranger Jennifer Rinio introduced guest speaker Jim O'Connor, on the upper patio of the Kannally Ranch House:


Jim's core astronomical interest is in how various cultures use the night sky. He discussed how to tell time at night like a cowboy or an Apache for ceremonies and talked about the constellations and stars through multi-cultural tales. Park visitors were fascinating by his talk and were able to enjoy a gorgeous sunset at the start of the talk:


One of the Oracle State Park telescopes was set up and operated by the Oracle Dark Skies Committee and after the talk provided Park visitors the opportunity to view the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.


Mike Weasner of the ODSC demonstrated how to use a smartphone camera to take astrophotographs through a telescope. Here is Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons as photographed by Mike using a handheld iPhone 5s at the telescope eyepiece:


Two visitors were thrilled to be able to photograph Jupiter and the moons using their own smartphones.

The talk and telescope viewing were great demonstrations of the value and importance of having and maintaining dark skies. Oracle State Park is proud to continue showcasing its "International Dark Sky Park" status. After the event, the ODSC did a sky quality measurement at the Park using the Park's SQM meter, with this result:


The measurement equates to seeing faint stars of Magnitude +6.4 and confirms that Oracle State Park is indeed a Dark Sky Park.

Oracle Dark Skies Committee visits Mt Lemmon Observatory, 21 May 2015

On Thursday, 21 May 2015, the Oracle Dark Skies Committee had a very special visit to Mt Lemmon Observatory and the SkyCenter as the guests of Steve Larson from the Catalina Sky Survery in recognition of the Committee's work to preserve the dark night sky in southern Arizona. The report and photos is available here.

Telescope Training, Oracle State Park, 30 April 2015

Mike Weasner conducted a 3 hour training session for Oracle State Park rangers and members of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee. With help from ODSC member Dan Blanco, everyone learned how to setup, use, and take down the four telescopes that had been donated to Oracle State Park in honor of its being designated as the first "International Dark Sky Park" in the Arizona State Parks system. Here are a few photos courtesy of ODSC member MaryHelen Vasquez:

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"Going for the Gold" Dark Sky Celebration, Oracle State Park, 21 March 2015

Oracle State Park was recently designated the 20th in the world "International Dark Sky Park". Click to read the full report with photos of this day and night celebration at Oracle State Park.

REI meeting at Oracle State Park, 12 March 2015

REI came to Oracle State Park on the evening of 12 March 2015. Following their catered dinner and talks, the guests came out on the Kannally Ranch House patio to hear a short talk by Mike Weasner of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee. Telescope viewing had been planned but clouds prevented that. Mike did talk about the Park's IDA "International Dark Sky Park" designation, the importance of protecting the dark sky, and pointed out what they would have seen had the telescopes been used.

All the REI guests expressed their wonder at what the Park had to offer and their appreciation of its dark sky work.

"Adventures with the Moon", Oracle State Park, 7 March 2015

7:30pm. Evening Interpretive Program. The moon, Earth's only natural satellite, with its mystery and intrigue continues to provide interest to Earth's humans. Oracle State Park volunteer, Dick Boyer, took the Park visitors to the moon and back through interactive family friendly activities and displays.

A full report is available including photos of this wonderful presentation.

Pinal County Board of Supervisors Meeting, 4 March 2015

Mike Weasner went before the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to express support for a Resolution honoring Oracle State Park being designated as an IDA "International Dark Sky Park". Click the image below to view the 2 minute video of his presentation (there is a video glitch about halfway through).

Click or tap on image for video

Oracle Neighborhood Watch meeting, 2 March 2015

Mike Weasner attended this meeting to discuss concerns with "security lighting" should a large outdoor marijuana farm be located close to Oracle State Park as a result of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors approving a change to zoning regulations. Everyone who attended this meeting were against this development. More work will be done to mitigate the concerns of the community.

Lower San Pedro Water Alliance Winter Meeting, 2 March 2015

The Lower San Pedro Water Alliance held their Winter 2015 meeting at Oracle State Park on Monday, 2 March.


Park Ranger Jennifer Rinio talked about the background of the Park and its recent designation as an IDA "International Dark Sky Park". Mike Weasner gave more details about the pursuit of the designation and the positive impacts it brings to the Park and local area.

Oracle Womens Network talk, 6 February 2015

Mike Weasner was invited to give a talk to the Oracle Womens Network on Friday, 6 February 2015, about how the "International Dark Sky Park" designation for Oracle State Park came about and why it is important to the area. Mike discussed the idea behind pursuing the designation, the broad community support the effort received, the impacts of Light Pollution, and the ecomomic benefits that are beginning to be seen from the designation. The talk was well received and there was much appreciation to the Oracle Dark Skies Committee for its significant work to promote the area.

Winter Evening Stargazing Event, Oracle State Park, 24 January 2015

To celebrate the accomplishment of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee in bringing recognition and attention to Oracle State Park's dark sky resource, a day and evening event was held at Oracle State Park with live music, a guest speaker, and stargazing. Read the report here.

South Korean Dark Skies Delegation visit to Oracle State Park, 10 January 2015

A high level delegation from South Korea came to Oracle State Park to learn how it became an "International Dark Sky Park" and to experience its dark sky. A special report with many photos documenting their visit is available.

Past Events - 2014

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