Cenizo Journal Spring 2023 | Page 12

Dark Skies for All

by stephanie winston
Top - The Big Bend is renowned for its dark skies and quality of stargazing . Photo courtesy of Danny Self . Bill Ramey , Andy Torres and Stephanie Winston show off a telescope at the Marathon Motel Dark Skies observatory .

12 Cenizo Spring 2023

In 2022 , The Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve was created . According to the International Dark-Sky Association , “ the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve is currently the world ’ s largest Reserve and protected Dark Sky Place . The Reserve spans from Fort Davis , Texas , to the Rio Grande River at the US / Mexico international border , and includes three protected areas in Mexico – Maderas del Carmen , Ocampo , and Cañón de Santa Elena – making it the world ’ s first binational International Dark Sky Reserve .” Included within the 15,000 square miles of the Greater Big Bend Dark Sky Reserve is Brewster County .
So , what does that mean ? And why is that important ? It means really , really dark skies . It means being able to see some amazing things in the skies . It also means that a community of people have banded together to protect the dark skies so that people like myself and others can observe these phenomena . In addition to having people that protect the dark skies , it is important to have a group of people that can educate the population on that which is worth observing . Luckily for us here in Brewster county , we have both .
Because of the efforts of so many that love and protect the dark skies , last month , I saw 4 of Jupiter ’ s 80 moons . This month , I saw the rings around Saturn and the Orion Nebula , also known as M42 . This may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity , but for me , it ’ s not . I live in Brewster County , Texas . I don ' t say this to reduce the dark skies and their apparitions to a commonplace occurrence ; quite the opposite . I share my experiences as a celebration of the magnificence that is available to myself and any and every one within the Big Bend Region . We are incredibly blessed .
On any given night , in the Big Bend