Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's Protected Lands Offer Unparalleled Night Sky Viewing
Anza-Borrego Foundation Celebrates 50 Years of Protecting the “Dark Sky” of California’s Largest State Park
Last updated 12/1/2016 at 10:37pm
Escape the city lights and head to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for 600,000 acres of star- and moon-gazing beyond compare. The land conservation efforts of the Anza-Borrego Foundation have ensured that the dark skies visible in Anza-Borrego remain uniquely protected from urban lights. The desert season begins with two major celestial events – December’s Geminids and Ursid meteor showers – and free night sky programs in the Park.
The Geminids meteor shower can be annually observed between December 4 to 16, with its peak activity on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. It is known to be one of the most reliable of the annual meteor showers – producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak – though a full moon could block out the fainter meteors this year. The Ursid meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of December 21 and early morning hours of December 22.
“Since 1967, the Anza-Borrego Foundation has acquired more than 54,000 acres of land to add to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park,” said Paige Rogowski, executive director of the Foundation. “In 2009, Borrego Springs, the town surrounded by the Park, was designated as California’s first – and only – International Dark Sky Community, demonstrating its commitment to protecting the haven of dark skies around it. These combined efforts have made the area one of the world’s prime stargazing locations.”
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park will host free, open-to-the-public dark sky programming during the month of December. On December 14 and 16, a moon watching program will teach attendees about the features and phases of the moon. The “talk and watch” program begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center (which is partially funded by ABF). On December 31, a special New Year’s Eve Star-gazing program that begins at 7:30 p.m. will explore constellations and include a telescope viewing, weather permitting. Attendees are instructed to meet at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground Amphitheater to ring in the New Year.
For additional program dates throughout the season, visit http://www.theabf.org/calendar.
For sky watchers eager to take advantage of the Park’s dark skies this desert season, Anza-Borrego Foundation recommends these optimal viewing locations that also offer free primitive camping if desired:
• Culp Valley area and Culp Valley Primitive Campground (2-wheel-drive OK)
• Blair Valley/Little Blair Valley and Blair Valley Primitive Campground (2-wheel-drive OK)
• Fish Creek Primitive Campground (high clearance/4WD vehicles recommended)
• Mountain Palm Springs Primitive Campground
For basic maps and camping information, view or download the Park’s informational magazine.
To contribute to the Foundation’s conservation work by making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member, visit http://www.theabf.org.
About Anza-Borrego Foundation
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this desert season, Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) is the official nonprofit partner of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. ABF provides financial support for Park programs, acquires land for conservation in and around the Park, educates the public about the Park’s resources and supports research relevant to the region.
In addition to raising private funds to support Park programs and projects, ABF offers an extensive selection of guidebooks, clothing and other products in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Visitor Center and State Park Store.
To learn more, plan your visit, become a member or volunteer, visit http://www.theabf.org.