Oracle State Park Earth Day Musical Trail Event and Dark Sky Party
Posted: 24 April 2022
Saturday, 23 April 2022, Oracle State Park held an "Earth Day Musical Trail Event and Dark Sky Party". It was a celebration of Earth Day, International Dark Sky Week, and the 7th Anniversary of Oracle State Park becoming an IDA International Dark Sky Park.
The event began with an Environmental Trail Tour with Don Rafferty and friends in the morning.
Then a Photo Workshop with world renowned photographer Dave Smith was conducted. Everyone agreed that the Workshop provided what they needed to improve their photography, whether it was of children, pets, wildlife, or landscapes.
Mid-day some Saddlebrooke Ranch amateur astronomers set up some telescopes for safe viewing of the Sun. Friends of Oracle State Park Deb Gaines and photographer Dave Smith viewed the Sun. Safe Solar binoculars were also available for viewing the Sun. (WARNING: never view the Sun through any optical aid including cameras without proper solar filters on the telescope, binoculars, or camera lens.)
Food was available from Malta Joe. The Handmade Pastizzi was delicious!
In the afternoon, several guided 20-minute tours of the historic Kannally Ranch House were conducted with docent Mary Bast. Some lucky Park visitors were able to hear Mary playing one of her flutes.
The Friends of Oracle State was on hand to answer questions, take donations and new members, and sold some items to raise money for use at the Park.
During the day, Park visitors were able to see local wildlife, plants, and wonderful views.
A pre-sunset hike along the Nature Trail let visitors enjoy live music, featuring various instrumental musicians along the trail. Instruments included acoustic guitar, mandolin, drums, harmonica, Native American flute, cello, and violin. Music sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park (FOSP).
As sunset approached, amateur astronomers from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and Saddlebrooke Ranch began setting up their telescopes. Park visitors enjoyed the some peaceful time with friends on the Ranch House patio. As the temperature was dropping, Park Manager Vince Micallef set up a firepit to warm everyone up.
Vince then welcomed everyone to the 7th anniversary of Oracle State Park’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park. Local Dark Sky Advocate Mike Weasner then spoke about the designation, Light Pollution, and International Dark Sky Week. He mentioned that the State of Arizona had issued a Commendation in honor of International Dark Sky Week.
Photo courtesy of Dave Smith
Some musicians sat by the fire and entertained the visitors with the constellations of Canis Major and Orion providing a nice backdrop.
As the stars came out, many visitors took advantage of the telescopes to see galaxies and nebulae.
One of the telescopes set up was a new type of telescope with an electronic imager built-in. This provided incredible live views of faint galaxies and nebulae. Here the Pinwheel Galaxy is showing on the tablet and the view through the eyepiece taken with a handheld iPhone.
A highlight for many visitors was seeing the recently discovered Supernova 2022hrs. In normal telescopes the supernova appears very faint, but with this telescope the supernova and two galaxies were easily seen on the tablet.
The events at Oracle State Park began at 9 AM and the last of the over one hundred star party visitors left about 9:30 PM. It was a beautiful day and night at the Park and the events were thoroughly enjoyed by the visitors. After the last of the visitors left at night, a Sky Quality reading was taken of the night sky over Oracle State Park. It was 21.25, which given the dust and particulates in the atmosphere from all the recent strong winds, this was an excellent reading showcasing the dark night sky available at Oracle State Park! Arizona's oldest natural resource is worth protecting.
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