One of the truly amazing things about the Sonoran Desert Sanctuary is the quality of the dark night skies. We are so remote that it is very dark! As a result, our star gazing is spectacular. The Milky Way is clearly defined and the depth of stars is pretty mind blowing. The past few weeks we have had the incredible opportunity to view comet Neowise! An astronomer friend of mine sent me a map and a finders guide and recommended I go outside with binoculars to spot the comet. When I left the house and looked up to the horizon I did not need any guides or devices. Neowise was perfectly visible to the naked eye. As we prepare to welcome retreat guests, those coming to view the heavens are more than welcome!
Dark night skies are important for more than the observation and study of our universe. Several years ago I took part in a National Geographic "Bioblitz" project. I volunteered to help measure the dark skies around Tucson Arizona. From that experience, I learned from the Nat Geo scientists all about the negative impacts on wildlife caused by the night time glow of our cities. Who would have thought that adding more light to an environment would detract from the vitality of the surrounding wildlife. With this knowledge, the Sonoran Desert Sanctuary is committed to a careful and conscious lighting scheme for the retreat center, one that can be turned off completely when not needed. This way we can turn the night over to our other than human friends who make up the nocturnal community of the Sonoran desert.
Photograph courtesy of Andre Bormanis