Cochise County is a star gazer’s paradise!

Cochise County’s comfortable temperatures and clear skies are ideal for stargazing. Join a “star party” given by local astronomers, visit one of the county’s private observatories, or simply find an off-the-beaten-path spot to gaze into our star studded skies.

Whether you’re a novice or an expert astronomer, a visit to Cochise County is a star gazer’s delight. And, you will appreciate the county’s many efforts in reducing light pollution and protecting the wonderful dark skies viewed all across our expansive geography.

Photo Credit: (top) @ericmsmartphotography, (bottom) @lawrenceraven

There are several observatories throughout Cochise County that offer stunning views of the region’s dark skies. Learn more about these observatories below and plan your next excursion today!

PATTERSON 

With advance notice, the University of Arizona-South Patterson Observatory complex is available to the public for viewing of celestial objects, as a scientific resource for K through graduate school and local educators, and as a research instrument for local astronomers.

Thanks to its development by the University South Foundation, Inc., the Patterson Observatory on campus is the first public astronomical observatory in Cochise County. Every month, the observatory gives the public a guided tour of the skies.

ASTRONOMY CLUB

With 15 local observatories owned by amateur sky-watchers, members of the Huachuca Astronomy Club enjoy sharing the boundless skies with groups and visitors. Some of the observatories are open to the public, by reservation, while other events are the monthly Astronomy Nights, which are held to educate newcomers to planetary and astral wonders.

Connect with members of the Huachuca Astronomy Club to enhance your enjoyment of the night sky. Look for them on Facebook, GROUPS.IO, or on the web.

BUTTERFIELD 

With an on-site observatory managed by its resident astronomer, guests of the Butterfield RV Resort can sign up to attend a nightly star show. The Butterfield RV Resort & Observatory offers nightly sessions (weather permitting) at 7:30 p.m. A second session may be added if enough guests register.

A university-quality installation, the Meade LX-200 GPS 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, housed in a 15-foot-diameter dome, is the observatory’s primary instrument.

KARTCHNER CAVERNS STATE PARK

Beginning in 2010, Kartchner Caverns State Park management and staff realized the park’s situation in rural Cochise County and accessible facilities made for a good venue for local volunteers with the Huachuca Astronomy Club to conduct nighttime astronomy programs for Park visitors.

Since then, the Park has hosted several such events per year and is increasingly known across the region among amateur astronomers who bring their telescopes to enjoy access to dark skies.

Most notably, the International Dark-Sky Association has designated Kartchner Caverns State Park as a “Silver” tier level Dark Sky Park, becoming the fifth such park in Arizona.

RESOURCES

Looking for more information on dark skies? Check out the resources below.

 

1 The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide. Visit
2 Fun fact: Arizona is home to more certified Dark Sky Places than anywhere else in the world. No country outside the U.S. can rival the state’s 16 dark-sky communities, places and parks. Arizona also boasts ten Dark Sky Parks, defined by the IDA as lands with “exceptional quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” Visit

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