9:00 PM21:00

Public Star Party: Jupiter, the King of the Night Sky Rises

Join us in celebrating Jupiter’s first appearance in the night sky of 2019! Jupiter is known as the King of the Gods (and planets) in Roman mythology and represents sky an thunder. This Kingship of the night sky is quite evident when viewed on a clear, moonless night. Jupiter stands out as the birghtest and most dominant star in the night sky.

In the case of a cancellation due to the weather, the back up date is Saturday, June 8 at 9:00 p.m.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 8:00 p.m. the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

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9:00 PM21:00

Public Star Party: Jupiter's Ascent & Saturn's First Appearance

Join us in celebrating the first appearance of Saturn in our night sky of 2019 while Jupiter ascends high in the sky. As the former King of the Gods in Roman mythology, Saturn was overtaken as king by his son Jupiter, with the help of Jupiter’s siblings Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, Juno and Vesta. Now you can see the ancient battle of the Gods in the night sky right above us!

In the case of a cancellation due to the weather, the back up date is Saturday, July 6 at 9:00 p.m.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 8:00 p.m. the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

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9:00 PM21:00

Public Star Party: The Awe of the Milky Way

Join us in celebrating the awe inspiring nature of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way is home to immense clouds of gas and dust, known as star nurseries, which are set against a backdrop of billions and billions of stars. Come see a sight that, sadly, is now visible only in places like the Wet Mountain Valley because of light pollution in the more populated areas of the nation. 

Back-up date is Saturday, August 3 at 9:00 p.m.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 8:00 p.m. the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

The Milky Way is mythologized in cultures all around the world since the beginning of recorded history. A Cherokee folktale tells of a dog who stole some cornmeal and was chased away. He ran away to the north, spilling the cornmeal along the way. The Milky Way is thus called "The Way the Dog Ran Away". Peoples in Eastern Asia believed that the hazy band of stars was the "Silvery River" of Heaven. In one story, the stars Altair and Vega were said to be two lovers who were allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month, when a flock of magpies and crows formed a bridge over the galactic river. That day is celebrated as Qi Xi, the Seventh Night.

In Egyptian mythology, the Milky Way was considered a pool of cow's milk. The Milky Way was deified as a fertility cow-goddess by the name of Bat. The Greek name for the Milky Way (Galaxias) is derived from the Greek word for milk (γάλα, gala). One legend explains how the Milky Way was created by Heracles when he was a baby. His father, Zeus, was fond of his son, who was born of the mortal woman Alcmene. He decided to let the infant Heracles suckle on his divine wife Hera's milk when she was asleep, an act which would endow the baby with godlike qualities. When Hera woke and realized that she was breastfeeding an unknown infant, she pushed him away and the spurting milk became the Milky Way.

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8:45 PM20:45

Public Star Party: Our Closest Galaxy Neighbor, Andromeda, Makes an Appearance

Join us in celebrating the arrival of our closest galaxy neighbor Andromeda in our night sky. Andromeda is a spiral galaxy that is located a mere 2.5 million light years from Earth. And for some those interested in long term planning, The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in ~4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy, or a large disc galaxy.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 7:30 p.m. the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

In Greek mythology, Andromeda is the daughter of the Aethiopian king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia. When Cassiopeia's hubris leads her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sends the sea monster Cetus to ravage Andromeda as divine punishment. Andromeda is chained to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but is saved from death by Perseus.

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7:15 PM19:15


For this final public star party of the season we will be celebrating International Observe the Moon Night. International Observe the Moon Night is a worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration held annually since 2010. One day each year, everyone on Earth is invited to observe and learn about the Moon together, and to celebrate the cultural and personal connections we all have with our nearest neighbor.

The event occurs when the Moon is around first quarter. A first quarter Moon is visible in the afternoon and evening, a convenient time for most hosts and participants. Furthermore, the best lunar observing is typically along the dusk/dawn terminator, where shadows are the longest, rather than at full Moon.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 6:00 p.m. the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

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3:30 PM15:30


San Isabel Land Protection Trust Building 59000 Colorado 69 Westcliffe, CO 81252 (map)

We would love to have you join us at our next meeting or event. Please let us know you're coming by contacting us at (719) 398-1284 or via info@darkskiescolorado.org

Location: San Isabel Land Protection Trust (located just north of the intersection of Main St. and Third St. on Hwy 69) in the Trust’s conference room. Access is from the lower back of the old Wells Fargo Bank building and enter at the SILPT office (left door facing the back of building).

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8:45 PM20:45

Public Star Party: (Cancelled due to weather)

Join us in celebrating the arrival of the the constellations Boötes and Hercules as they take center stage in our night sky. Dark Skies Star Guides will be on hand to provide commentary and field questions during the Star Party. The group will use the Smokey Jack Observatory telescope to project images on a large screen and personal telescopes for eyepiece viewing by attendees.

Due do the cold, snowy weather, this star party has been cancelled.
There will be NO backup date.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.


The earliest Greek references to the constellation we now call Hercules do not refer to it as Hercules. Aratus, a 4th century Geek poet and astronomer describes the constellation as “a Phantom form, like to a man that strives at a task…men simply call him On His Knees [Ἐγγόνασιν "the Kneeler"].”

The first reference of the constellation as Hercules is recounted by the ancient Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in the first century BC, who tells a story of a fierce battle between Hercules and two giants. Hercules, seeing the difficulty of the oncoming fight, kneels in prayer to his father Zeus for help. Dionysius states “It was this kneeling position of Heracles when prayed to his father Zeus that gave the name "the Kneeler"."


In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as "late-setting" or "slow to set", translated as the "Plowman".

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to May 5

Night Sky/Milky Way Photography: 2019 Workshops

This night sky/Milky Way workshop is presented by Dark Skies member and award-winning photographer Mike Pach.

The workshop includes use of a rental home in Westcliffe owned by Dark Skies Vacations. Check-in is as early as 5 pm. The workshops will start near dusk and end just after sunrise (we do not plan to sleep at the rental house, but it will be available if anyone needs to get some rest). Check-out time is 11 am the following day. Pets are not allowed.

The cost of the workshops, dates thru 2019, and ticket information can be found here. Please direct all workshop related questions to Mike Pach.

The tentative schedule for each workshop is as follows:

5:00 PM - Check in
6:00 PM - Dinner
7:00 PM - Classroom Instruction
9:00 PM - Photographing the night sky at up to 3 locations through sunrise
7:00 AM - Breakfast at the Silver Cliff Inn

Times are subject to change based on weather, sunset conditions and the times the Galactic Core of the Milky Way is visible.

We'll keep an eye on the weather, but we don't have any control over Mother Nature. If the sky is cloudy, we will spend time photographing the barns at one of our locations and practicing light painting techniques. If the weather is poor, we will spend time discussing post-processing techniques at either rental house.

What you will learn

Workshops will be limited to 10 people and will be lead by Mike Pach with assistance from Don Savage. Keeping groups small will ensure that each participant gets the individual attention they need to learn ...

how to photograph the Milky Way and the stars as points of light.
how to photograph star trails.
light painting techniques (we will supply the lights needed).
how to post-process your images in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Learning materials will be provided to each participant prior to each workshop.

This is a time lapse of the Milky Way during a night sky photography workshop with 3 Peaks Photography in Westcliffe, Colorado. Westcliffe is Colorado's first dark sky community and the world's highest. The photos were taken at two locations on August 12th, 2018. Visit www.3peaksphoto.com for more information about night sky photography workshops.

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8:15 PM20:15

Public Star Party: Celebrate International Dark Sky Week & Welcome the Spring Constellations

Friday night party was cancelled due to clouds. It is rescheduled for Saturday night but the forecast isn’t promising. Please check the cloud cover forecast at this website to help make your decision on coming to the SJO: http://clearoutside.com/forecast/38.13/-105.47?view=midday

Join us in celebrating International Dark Sky Week as the Winter constellations leave us while Leo and its fellow Spring constellations come into view.

In the case of a cancellation due to the weather, the back up date is Saturday, April 6 at 8:15 p.m.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 7:00pm the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.

Join the International Dark-Sky Association and Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley for seven days of celebration, learning, and action!

2019 International Dark Sky Week is Sunday, March 31 – Sunday, April 7! 

Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. Each year it is held in April around Astronomy Day. This year celebrations begin on Sunday, March 31, and run through Saturday, April 7 (click here for resources to use during the week).

In explaining why she started the week, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. … I want to help preserve its wonder.”

International Dark Sky Week draws attention to the problems associated with light pollution and promotes simple solutions available to mitigate it.

Also read “5 Ways to Celebrate Dark Sky Week“!

Light Pollution Matters

The nighttime environment is a crucial natural resource for all life on Earth, but the glow of uncontrolled outdoor lighting has hidden the stars, radically changing the nighttime environment.

Before the advent of electric light in the 20th century, our ancestors experienced a night sky brimming with stars that inspired science, religion, philosophy, art and literature including some of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets.

The common heritage of a natural night sky is rapidly becoming unknown to the newest generations. In fact, millions of children across the globe will never see the Milky Way from their own homes.

We are only just beginning to understand the negative repercussions of losing this natural resource. A growing body of research suggests that the loss of the natural nighttime environment is causing serious harm to human health and the environment.

For nocturnal animals in particular, the introduction of artificial light at night could very well be the most devastating change humans have made to their environment. Light pollution also has deleterious effects on other organisms such as migrating birds, sea turtle hatchlings, and insects.

Humans are not immune to the negative effects of light in their nighttime spaces. Excessive exposure to artificial light at night, particularly blue light, has been linked to increased risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes and breast cancer.

Good Lighting Doesn’t Compromise Safety & Security

There is no clear scientific evidence that increased outdoor lighting deters crime. It may make us feel safer but it does not make us safer. The truth is bad outdoor lighting can decrease safety by making victims and property easier to see.

Glare from overly bright, unshielded lighting creates shadows in which criminals can hide. It also shines directly into our eyes, constricting our pupils. This diminishes the ability of our eyes to adapt to low-light conditions and leads to poorer nighttime vision, dangerous to motorists and pedestrians alike.

Another serious side effect of light pollution is wasted energy. Wasted energy costs money, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and compromises energy security.

What YOU Can Do

The good news is that light pollution is reversible and its solutions are immediate, simple and cost-effective. Here are a few simple things you can do to confront the problem and take back the night:

• Check around home. Shield outdoor lighting, or at least angle it downward, to minimize “light trespass” beyond your property lines. Use light only when and where needed. Motion detectors and timers can help. Use only the amount of light required for the task at hand.

• Attend or throw a star party. Many astronomy clubs and International Dark Sky Places are celebrating the week by holding public events under the stars. See our Events Calendar to find an event in your area (we update our calendar regularly, so be sure to keep checking back). If you have a dark sky related event, please let us know, so we can post it!

• Download, Watch, and Share “Losing the Dark,” a public service announcement about light pollution. It can be downloaded for free and is available in 13 languages.

• Talk to neighbors and your community. Explain that poorly shielded fixtures waste energy, produce glare and reduce visibility. Need inspiration? Check out our Get Involved page and our public outreach resources.

• Become a Citizen Scientist with GLOBE at Night or the Dark Sky Rangers and document light pollution in your neighborhood and share the results. Doing so, contributes to a global database of light pollution measurements.

• Photograph the sky and enter the 2018 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest, which aims to educate the public about light pollution (contest dates to be announced in early March).

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