Crystal White, owner of Moab Astronomy Tours and co-founder of Moab Dark Skies, remembers sleeping under the stars as a child to âgaze at the stars, watch the meteors and see the universeâ.
âI feel a sense of calm and serenity,â she said.
As a Night Sky Ranger, White has helped Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park become International Dark Sky Parks, which are protected areas with starry nights and exceptional nightlife environments. The Sand Flats Recreation Area is currently working on such a designation, which requires rigorous enforcement and modification of the area’s outdoor lighting policies.
Sand Flats has announced several events for residents to âcelebrate the nightâ in the coming months. All events have capped attendance; send an email to [email protected] to claim a place at any event.
On August 12, up to 40 Moabites can gather at Sand Flats to watch the Perseid meteor shower cross the sky from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. that enter our atmosphere, âWhite said.
A full moon hike will take place on August 20 from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with 10 places available. Sand Flats will also host two âstar partiesâ, each limited to 20 participants: one on September 30 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and another on October 22 from 7 to 9 p.m.
âSand Flats is a special place that has dark skies, even though it’s so close to the city,â said Andrea Brand, Sand Flats recreation manager. âWe would also like the dark skies of Sand Flats to be recognized. “
The International Dark-Sky Association works to protect the natural darkness in the world. To be selected as an international dark sky location, Sand Flats will need to direct all lighting downward and take other precautions to minimize light pollution in the area. Another part of the designation is to commit to educating the public about the importance of natural darkness.
âFor millions of years, life on earth has adapted to the cycles of day and night. All of the artificial lights that we now have at night impact our circadian rhythms, which are linked to our health, âWhite explained. Being exposed to blue light at night can inhibit the production of melatonin, which helps cells repair and rest. Disrupted circadian rhythms can also increase the risk of certain cancers, mental health problems, and sleep disorders. “It’s about recognizing that this is a problem that we have, and it is an easily solved problem.”
Brand remembers sleeping on his sailboat at night in New York City as a youth, staring at the stars. âWhen you become an adult you don’t think about that,â she said. âWe have such an accessible dark sky in Moab at Sand Flats and the surrounding public lands. “
What: Observing the Perseid meteor shower
When: Thursday August 12 at 9 p.m.
What: Sand Flats Full Moon Hike
When: Friday August 20 at 8:30 p.m.
What: Sand Flats Celebrity Parties
When: Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
Or: Sand Flats Recreation Area
For more information or for RSVP, send an email to [email protected]