We Visit Sedona’s Evening Sky Tours
Evening Sky Tours ~ Sedona, Arizona – When we moved to Arizona from Michigan in 2006, we never realized what a dark night sky actually looked like. As it turns out, the communities around us have “light pollution” laws to protect the majesty of the Arizona night skies which they see as one of the great assets of Arizona.
Even though I live in an area with 4.5 million residents, a simple walk out my front door in the evening will always produce a gasp of unbelievable awe.
In spite of light pollution laws, however, 4.5 million people can’t move around in the evening without causing a great deal of light pollution from their automobiles, their street lights, and their decorative exterior home lighting.
Ninety miles to our north, situated in the famous red rock canyons, lies Sedona, Arizona. And a short 30 minute drive outside the lights of the small town of Sedona produces skies that…well…are simply to beautiful to describe.
We were invited by Sedona’s Evening Sky Tours to a remote parking lot in the Coconino National Forest where we would observe, with the aid of a powerful telescope and the near absolute dark skies; planets, stars, galaxies, nebula, and even a few shooting stars.
We arrived to our remote location, 30 minutes outside of Sedona, to an asphalt parking lot where we saw a grouping of comfortable lawn chairs set up, a warm woolly blanket set on each chair, and a large telescope pointed into the night skies.
When we exited our automobile, we were completely blind for a moment as our pupils worked to accommodate the very small amount of light available. Thankfully, our star guide, being very aware of our situation, came to our rescue with a flashlight that emitted a red beam and helped us to be seated in our chairs. Being one of the first arrivals, he warned us to cover our eyes as other vehicles approached so that our eyes might stay adjusted to the dark night skies.
We were very thankful for the warm blankets as the weather during our visit has produced an unusual cold snap that was giving us temperatures of only 29º. BURR!
As the final reservation party grouped their way to their seats, we sat back for a fascinating 90 minute tour and viewing of the highlights of the near-winter Sedona nighttime sky.
Through the powerful telescope, we witnessed Jupiter with its gas clouds and four moons, several cool star clusters, nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, and a plethora of other objects brought to our view.
When we weren’t taking turns looking through the telescope, we were comfortably seated in our chairs and gazing into the nighttime sky as our astronomer pointed out interesting objects with his green laser that seemed to be able to actually touch the stars, many light years away.
The astronomers at Evening Sky Tours have, on average, 25 years of observing experience and use their large state-of-the-art telescopes to tour you around the heavens. Some of them have worked at NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Cliff Ochser, the President and Founder of Evening Sky Tours, has a wealth of business experience and served as the Director of Development for the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Cliff was also instrumental in helping Lowell build the Discovery Channel Telescope, a world class research telescope under construction at Happy Jack, Arizona.
This was an absolutely amazing experience.
It is one that we will remember for years to come, and is one that we can confidently highly recommend to you.
Wow! I am impressed. How wonderful! We lived in Sierra Vista AZ (SE AZ) for 3 years in the middle 90s when Greg was a soldier and loved watching the stars at night. New Mexico has the same thing. Last December we went to a Christmas party in Alto NM near Ruidoso at a friend’s house who lives out in the mountains. The stars were spread all across the sky. A more beautiful view I’ve never seen. That’s the great thing about living in the SW – beautiful night skies away from populated areas.
Very cool isn’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It a great thing when we hear from our fans.
We always left Texas every summer for Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. I have described the nights in Arizona to many people. NO ONE knows what Arizona’s sky holds. I can gaze for hours. I have been asked where do you want to go this year, same answer Arizona.
Linda, we agree. Thanks for sharing your love of Arizona! 🙂
These photos are really phenomenal. As a NY native, I’ve actually never seen anything like that. I’m still thinking: “really?”. like…does it really look like that when you look up at night?