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Monument designated as a dark sky park

Eddie Garcia
October 07, 2016 06:59 PM

New Mexico is a shining star in the eyes of astronomers, all because of how dark our night sky is. A monument near Mountainair recently received a rare designation as one of the darkest spots in the country.

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The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument near Mountainair is now home to the nation’s newest designated dark sky park. Seeing is believing, according to photographers who capture some scenic images.

This is a great distinction for New Mexico for those who look up into the night sky and see the stars and the galaxy like nowhere else on the planet.

Jim Greenhouse, the space science director at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science was at last Friday’s dedication.

“They actually got a designation as a dark sky park from the International Dark-Sky Association,” Greenhouse said. “This is a distinction.”

The monument had to work hard to obtain the distinction, limiting the type and intensity of light they use around park.

What exactly is a dark sky park?

“[It] means that you can actually see the Milky Way,” Greenhouse said. “You can see dimmer deep sky objects and you can see all the stars that you can possibly see with just your eyes.”

As always, light from major cities can ruin the night sky by obscuring the stars.

“Light pollution is a situation we can improve upon,” Greenhouse said.

That’s why Greenhouse recommends everyone measures to prevent it.

“When you’re lighting around your house or your business, the light is focused directly onto the ground and it’s in a fixture that’s fully enclosed,” he said. “It’s called a full cut-off fixture.”

The monument will throw four star parties a year open to anyone who wants to enjoy the Milky Way in all its glory.

Credits

Eddie Garcia

Copyright 2016 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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