On September 21st, 2019 the Santa Fe Stargazers participated as volunteers for the Pecos National Historic Park “Starry Nights at Pecos” event. Tom Aldern, Sam Finn, Jim Eagle, Brad Jones, Betsy Foree and Robert Powers participated. We brought five telescopes and a pair of binoculars to help with the event. According to the Pecos ranger (Eric,) about 70 vehicles were allowed into their parking lots, and Eric estimates the crowd attendance to be over 140 visitors. Over two thousand individuals expressed an interest in the event on Facebook, but Eric limited the event based on their parking capacity. There is a lot of “pent up” demand for night viewing in the Santa Fe area.
The evening started with a beautiful sunset and light clouds, which turned into a nice clear Milky Way sky. And by 8:30, after a short 45 minutes of viewing Jupiter, Saturn, M13 and the Double Cluster — and lots of excited visitor exclamations over the planets — the sky turned cloudy, and we were soon socked in with overcast skies and drizzle. Our visitors melted away and SFS members packed up and were mostly gone by 9pm with rain and lightening for their retreat.