Dusk in the Chihuahuan Desert Nature ParkPicture the empty desert and then, picture yourself out there walking around in the darkness. A few years ago, you would never have found me in this situation--but I guess I can still surprise myself.
Last Saturday night we attended a really special event called Nighttime in the Desert, which was held at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park, a 935-acre site northeast of Las Cruces. The Asombro Institute for Science Education, which is responsible for the park, works to foster scientific literacy in children and adults by teaching them about the desert, its plants and its animals.
We arrived in the parking lot at dusk after a trip down a five-mile dirt road and were greeted by the Executive Director, Dr. Stephanie Bestelmeyer. Dr. Bestelmeyer wants to see people get excited by science, and she and her staff and volunteers make sure that happens as they share their knowledge and enthusiasm.
The beginning of the trail was lined with learning stations, starting with a hands-on display that explained how meteorites impact landforms. The presenter, whose day job was at the nearby Johnson Space Center, and his 5th grade son were fascinating people who really knew their stuff and were ready for an evening of explaining meteorites to adults and children.
That learning station was only the beginning. The evening to come was to be filled with one new experience after another, for an amazing night of desert education.
Next: What can you find with a black light in the desert night?