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At Aztec Ruins


August 4, 2017

On Friday, August 11, Aztec Ruins National Monument will host a “shooting star party” during the Perseid meteor shower. There will be a variety of activities for this late-night event, which is open from 9pm-11pm. During that time, meteor rates of 40-50/hour are expected, with some fireballs possible as well. Weather permitting, visitors will also see the International Space Station passing overhead. Park Rangers will host star gazing and activities in the central plaza of Aztec West. This free event is family friendly, and visitors are welcome to bring whatever will be comfortable for them while watching the night sky. This could be a sleeping bag, camping mat, or your favorite blanket and pillow. Jackets and a flashlight are definitely recommended. Photography is welcome as well.

Park Ranger Andy Bleckinger is leading this event, and he says “This is my favorite meteor shower of the year. The earth is passing through the debris trail of a comet, so we’re literally seeing pieces of our solar system streak through our planet’s atmosphere. This is such a special event, and to see it from an ancestral Pueblo great house site will make it even more memorable.”

According to NASA, this will be one of the best meteor showers of the year, and the darkest skies of the night will be visible around 10pm. After that, the meteor shower will continue but the moon will rise and the extra light will obscure the fainter meteors. For anyone viewing this shower from home, the peak in meteor activity should occur after 11pm, and any area with dark, clear skies will be a great place to view this natural event.

Park Ranger Danielle York added “Protecting the night sky is a big goal, but it’s also easy for an individual to make a difference. Options include turning off outside lighting whenever possible and switching existing lighting to options that don’t emit light upwards into the sky. The benefits of protecting this resource include ecosystem health, human health, saving money and reducing our use of nonrenewable energy resources.” Northwestern New Mexico is part of the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative, which was designated in 2013.

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