(Photo courtesy Air and Space Magazine)
The first Great Southwest Star Party is slated to be held at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.
The three day event, running from May 31 to June 2, 2019, will feature night sky viewing parties, museum and area tours, workshops, food vendors and on-site RV and tent camping.
“Southern New Mexico is internationally known for its dark skies and clear nights, with several public and private observatories in the area. It just made sense for the Museum of Space History to create something like this,” said Museum Outreach Coordinator Tony Gondola, an amateur astronomy himself who originated the concept for the event.
“Several counties and cities, including Alamogordo, have enacted dark sky ordinances to protect and encourage night sky viewing. We’re looking at this event as a way to showcase what we have in our area to amateur astronomers and their families across the country.”
Opening day of the event, Friday, May 31, offers a welcome BBQ dinner with a special guest speaker followed by the first night of observing. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, a cowboy breakfast provides the lead in to the swap meet style vendor displays, optional field trips and local tours, solar observing, various presentations and astronomy workshops.
The evening meals will offer a taste of southwestern flavor and local cuisine before a full night of viewing. Sunday evening is open to the general public, with participating astronomers allowing the public to view the skies through their telescopes.
The lower parking lot on the museum grounds (the large lot just above the New Horizons Theater) will be designated for RV and tent camping, with an estimated capacity of 18 RVs and more than 40 tent sites. Food vendors will be on-site all three days, as will vendors offering astronomy related items.
“The museum provides a perfect host site for an event like this,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. “The museum is base camp, and where most of the activities happen, but it’s also an excellent springboard for showing our guests what we have to offer in the area, like Apache Point, White Sands and of course, the local pistachio groves and wineries.” Local tours are planned for Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the event.
Online registration for the event is currently underway on the museum’s website and offers guests the option of picking and choosing their activities. Applications for vendors who would like to participate in the event are now available through the museum’s marketing department.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at website or like their us at Facebook.