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Beacon Senior News

Black Canyon Astronomical Society

Mar 25, 2020 03:06PM ● By Joyce Corley

These stargazers are out to preserve the night sky

Luckily, we live in an area that’s beautiful both by day and night! With the help of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, Montrose and Delta residents work together to preserve the night’s natural beauty and ensure its celestial bodies remain accessible to the public.

Bryan Cashion has been a member of the star-gazing group for the past 11 years. As club president, his goal is to grow membership and to support the society’s mission of uniting public interest with information about astronomy—the natural science that studies celestial objects, space and the physical universe—and encouraging the preservation of dark skies.

Collaborating with the community

Most of the group’s outreach efforts focus on observing the sky. The club partners with the National Park Service and utilizes Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for the majority of their events, which are open to the public. Cashion advises people to bring their own telescopes during outings.

“The telescope you buy really depends on what you want to see and use it for,” said Cashion. “Newer telescopes with new technological features are not necessarily lighter.”

Cashion encourages newbies to attend an event, and consult with club members about which telescope might be right for them.

Good telescopes can weigh anywhere from 20-40 pounds or more.

“I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, and I recently felt the need to downsize my own telescope,” Cashion said.

Go outside and look up!

All citizens can support the efforts to preserve the night sky by making sure home lighting is aligned with the objectives of the Dark Sky Concept, which encourages people to reduce their home’s light pollution.

The astronomical society meets monthly January through October in both Montrose and Delta. The club, founded 20 years ago, boasted around 60 members in 2019.

Annual memberships cost $15 for individuals and $25 for families. Members receive weekly astronomy news updates and a subscription to an astronomy magazine. The club also accepts donations to support the group’s efforts and mission, which includes equipment.

Events are listed online at www.blackcanyonastronomy.com.

To really find out if you are interested in astronomy, Cashion’s advice comes from Jack Horkheimer, former host of “Star Gazer” on  PBS: “Go outside and look up!”

For details, contact the club at 497-2644.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2015, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society worked alongside the National Park Service in its effort to designate the park as an International Dark Sky Place (DSP). These parks are lands possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.

Further efforts recently gained the same status for Norwood, and similar efforts are underway in Ridgway and Paonia. Other nearby DSPs include Great Sand Dunes National Park; Westcliffe & Silver Cliff, Colorado; Hovenweep, New Mexico and Dinosaur National Monument, Utah.

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