Oracle State Park IDSP 5th Anniversary Celebration
Posted: 15 March 2020
Oracle State Park held a "Trail Music and 5th Anniversary Celebration of International Dark Sky Park Designation" on Saturday, 14 March 2020. In early 2014 Oracle State Park began working on becoming an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP). In late 2014 the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) designated Oracle State Park as the 20th IDSP in the world and the first in the Arizona State Parks system. The Park held a big celebration on Saturday, 21 March 2015, to honor becoming an IDSP. Every year in March Oracle State Park celebrates this important designation. Being the 5th Anniversary, Saturday, 14 March 2020, was a special day at Oracle State Park.
Before sunset Park visitors were invited to walk along the one-mile Nature Trail Loop and enjoy live music featuring various instrumental artists heard along the path. Instruments included guitar, mandolin, drums, harmonica, flute, cello and violin.
Upon returning to the Kannally Ranch House patio the visitors were greeted by humingbirds.
The Friends of Oracle State Park had a table to sell memberships, astronomer's flashlights, and photographs of the night sky taken by Mike Weasner. Literature on the harmful effects of Artificial Light at Night (also known as Light Pollution) provided by IDA was also available.
Park Ranger Jennifer Rinio welcomed the approximately 300 visitors to the Park and then introduced Deborah Gaines, President of the Friends of Oracle State Park. The Friends group supports activities at the Park with donations and volunteer help. Today's celebration was no different.
Ranger Rinio then introduced Mike Weasner who spoke on how the designation came about in 2014 with the support of Park management and staff, local residents, business owners, and elected officials. (Sorry, no photos.) Mike thanked the members of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee by name for their work and dedication. Mike then read the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Resolution that was presented at the first celebration in 2015.
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As sunset approached six telescopes were set up by members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and the Saddlebrooke SkyGazers Club. About 150 Park visitors braved the decreasing temperature and stayed to view the planets Venus and Uranus, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters through the telescopes. They were also able to view and appreciate the dark night sky in Oracle and saw the Winter Milky Way high over head.
An astronomer's laser pointer was used to point out objects in the night sky. Here it is being used to show the way to the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) star cluster (at the top edge of the photo).
A highlight for many people was seeing the Zodiacal Light in the western sky. The Zodiacal Light is only visible from dark sky locations in the Spring (western sky after sunset) and Fall (eastern sky before sunrise).
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The last of the visitors left the Park about 8:30pm. At 9:00pm Mike Weasner took a Sky Quality Reading of 21.35 and reported it to the Globe at Night.
The IDSP 5th Anniversary Celebration at Oracle State Park was a highly successful event and lots of thanks go out to all the organizations and people who supported it and to the visitors who came to participate in the Celebration.
All photos by Mike Weasner.
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