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In the heart of "Astronomy Country"
New Mexico is one of the world's leading centers of astronomical research. The state is host to two national observatories, three national laboratories, and three state universities that operate vigorous astronomy programs. Apache Point Observatory is the site of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and, along with the National Solar Observatory, operates a popular visitor center for the public. Amateur astronomers from around the world plan vacations to take advantage of New Mexico's dark skies, now protected from light pollution by a state law enacted in 1999.
Socorro hosts the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which operates the world-famous Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescopes. The VLA Visitor Center welcomes visitors from around the world all year long. Socorro's New Mexico Tech, a nationally-recognized research university, operates the 2.4 meter telescope that comprises part of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, which sits atop South Baldy (10,500 feet), about 25 miles west of Socorro. Also located at the Observatory is the beginnings of a 10 element optical Interferometer instrument which will probe the cores of distant galaxies. MIT Lincoln Labs operates the LINEAR observatory a few miles southwest of Socorro, which has broken all records for discovering new asteroids and comets.
Socorro also is the ideal starting point for your astronomical vacation tour, less than a day's drive from McDonald Observatory in Texas, the Lowell Observatory in Northern Arizona, and Kitt Peak National Observatory in Southern Arizona.
It's Dark Here
The New Mexico Department of Tourism made a nice little video starring three of our Magdalena Astronomical Society members John Briggs, Judy Stanley and Dan Klinglesmith talking about our dark skies.
Video by the "New Mexico true" tourism campaign.
The YouTube video link for this and more New Mexico videos is here.
The site for the star party is located on U.S. Forest Service land about five
or six miles north and west of Magdalena. The star party is issued a permit
each year and part of the proceeds from registration are "taxed"
and given to the forest service.
This site had been used for the last three star parties. It's a little dusty, and there can be a little light from cars passing by at night (three or four cars per hour in the evening would be a traffic jam), but there's little obstruction of the horizon, and the layout allows big, tall campers to have their area, and short vans and tents to have their area.
Ghosts of star parties past caught on film!
Video by our very own Michael Mideke
Rebecca Latham, New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Tourism
"New Mexicans have so many things to be proud of; our clear skies are just one of them. There is no greater place on Earth to view the stars than in Magdalena in mid-April, further reinforcing that New Mexico offers experiences that can be found nowhere else. We're proud to be a part of this event that brings New Mexico True to life in such a unique and beautiful way."
Going Cosmic - Magdalena Star Party
"In the blink of an eye I see a world beyond, and worlds that were. The
long long long ago is shining before me right now."
Danielle D Fitzpatrick, October 27, 2014
Click HERE for Danielle's full description of her Star Party experience.
Observing at 10,600 feet elevation
One of the highlights of the Enchanted Skies Star Party is a night of observing atop Socorro County's South Baldy, which is part of the Magdalena Ridge and home to the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. At an elevation of 10,600 feet, it is a prime astrophotography and observing location!
Tour of the Very Large Array
Registered participants also have access to an insider's tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array, located ~25 miles west of Magdalena.
Lectures & Workshops
From the first year, the Enchanted Skies Star Party has featured an outstanding
lineup of great speakers, including both professional and accomplished amateur
astronomers. Our speakers have included researchers, educators, authors and
astronauts, among many others. Enchanted Skies Star Party participants have
heard speakers from:
The Albuquerque Astronomical Society
American Astronomical Society
Arizona State University
Apache Point Observatory
Ball Aerospace Corporation
Florida International University
Goddard Space Flight Center
International Dark-Sky Association
Johnson Space Center
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Magdalena Ridge Observatory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
National Solar Observatory
New Mexico State University
New Mexico Tech
Sandia National Laboratories
San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers
Sky Publishing Corp.
Southwest Institute for Astronomical Research
UNM Institute of Meteoritics
U.S. National Park Service
University of Chicago
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
University of New Mexico
Western New Mexico University