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A Tourist News Z

FEBRUARY 2004

The Amazing Winter Sky

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Visit Sonoita Creek State Natural Area and Patagonia Lake State Park for a selection of tours and programs that will open your eyes to the wonders of nature in southeastern Arizona. Experience the night sounds of Patagonia Lake wildlife and see why bird watching is America’s fastest growing hobby. State Park volunteers have reported sightings of many avian friends in the Sonoita Creek and Patagonia Lake area including; Great Blue Heron and Black Crown Night Heron, Harrier, and Anna’s Hummingbird as well as several water fowl including Mexican Mallard, Eared Grebes, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal, Canvasback, Red-Head, Scaup, Lesser and Greater Scaup, and Common

Useful Birding Contacts The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory www.sabo.org, 520-432-1388 Huachuca Audubon Society P.O. Box 63, Sierra Vista, AZ 85636 Tricia Gerrodette, President Maricopa Audubon Society www.maricopaaudubon.org, 480-968-5614 Laurie Nessel Northern Arizona Audubon Society http://nazas.org, 928-639-0491 Herb Henderson, President Prescott Audubon Society http://nazas.org/PAS,, P.O. Box 4156, Prescott, AZ 86302, Jim Morgan, President Sonoran Audubon Society www.sonoranaudubon.org P.O. Box 8068, Glendale, AZ 85312 Chuck Kangas, President Tucson Audubon Society www.tucsonaudubon.org 300 East University Blvd. #120, Tucson, AZ 85705, 520-628-1730, Sonja Macys, Executive Director, Roger Wolf, President

Merganser. Winter visitors will find a wide variety of birding and hiking opportunities. For the winter months, the two parks have scheduled the “Avian Adventure Pontoon Boat Tours,” a onehour birding tour of the east end of Patagonia Lake to locate and identify resident and migratory birds; the “Lake Discovery Pontoon Boat Tour,” a one-hour exploration of the west end of Patagonia Lake to identify the vegetation, hear about the history of the area and explore Ash Canyon, the dam, and Deep Cove; and the “Bird Hike of Sonoita Creek,” a 2-hour birding adventure. These programs offer enjoyment for all ages and experience; however, rangers recommend an “Introduction to Birding” program where novice birders can have a little fun while learning the basics of our avian friends. The program starts at the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area Visitor Center. On Saturdays and Sundays children of all age can join in the “Junior Ranger Activity.” Kids and adults participate in an hour of discovery as they learn about and create fun nature crafts to take home. Visitors can also join rangers on the “Twilight Pontoon Boat Tour” for a night of listening to evening sounds while viewing the many varieties of night creatures that emerge under the moon rays. The pontoon boat holds only ten passengers so be sure to call for reservations at 520-287-2791. If you plan to take pictures, you will need to bring large lens cameras. Visitors coming for tours must pay the park entrance of $7 per car. Rangers’ request visitors wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars, field guide, and water. All ages welcome. Twenty-seven State Parks are open! For information about the State Parks see the calendar of events at www.azstateparks.com or call the State Parks main office at 602-542-4174 or if outside of the metro area please call 1-800285-3703.

White Mountain Audubon Society www.whitemountainaudubon.org 928-367 - 2462 Mary Ellen Bittorf, President

Pick up your copy of Az Tourist News at many Village Inn Restaurants statewide.

Yuma County Audubon Society P.O. Box 6395, Yuma, AZ 85366-6395 John King or Cary Meister

Annual Birdwatching Events JAN WILLCOX Wings Over Willcox www.wingsoverwillcox.com, 800-200-2272 MAR SUPERIOR Welcome Back Buzzards htp://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu, 520-689-2811 APRIL TUCSON Hummingbird Festival 800-529-3699 APR 14-18 YUMA Yuma Birding & Nature Festival Field trips, exhibits, vendors, tours & events. Tours in Mexico, CA & sites near Yuma. Also bats, bighorn sheep, dune ecology. To register call: 800-293-0071/928-376-0100

APR 22-25 COTTONWOOD Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival Dead Horse Ranch State Park - Field trips, workshops, guided walks, trail rides, birding from a canoe & exhibits. Prices vary. www.birdyverde.org MAY BISBEE Fiesta De Las Aves 520-432-1388 AUG BISBEE Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival swwings@theriver.com, 520-378-0233 SEP SUPERIOR Bye-Bye Buzzards http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu, 520-689-2811

VIE GRE WI AT NG

Down Patagonia Way Winter Bird and Wildlife Viewing

STATEWIDE AZ PAGE 33

by Charlis McVey

The stars in winter seem brighter and more numerous. The sky has a clearer, sharper quality... Why is this? In summer the evening sky is facing towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy. We are actually looking at many, many MORE stars in summer than in winter! However, these stars tend to be more distant and the hazy nature of the summer sky is really the combined light of billions of stars. In winter we’re looking the opposite way towards the outskirts of the galaxy. We are seeing far fewer stars. However, the winter stars tend to be closer to us and there are some really gigantic stars in this direction. That’s why the winter sky seems sharper and more brilliant. It’s a wonderful time to view the planets and many familiar constellations. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible. Orion, the Hunter, is the most recognizable constellation. Look for his belt marked by a distinctive group of three stars “in a row.” Below his belt in the “scabbard” is the Great Orion Nebula, an area of gas and dust 1500 light years from earth in which stars are being born.

You can see it as a small hazy patch even with an inexpensive pair of binoculars. Use Orion’s belt to point down to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius in the Big Dog (Canus Major). One reason that it looks so bright is that it is “only” 8.6 light-years away. Another reason is that it is much hotter and twice as large as the sun. Sirius is one of the closest stars seen in our northern skies, but it would still take 60,000 years for an astronaut to make a roundtrip there at the speed of our spacecraft. There are many more fascinating things to be learned and sights to be seen in the winter sky. Visit Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff for one of their special programs or regular tours and viewing. See page 11 for their “2 adults for the price of 1” admission coupon. The “Nightly Observing Program” at Kitt Peak National Observatory, 56 miles SW of Tucson via Route 86, is also an exciting opportunity to learn about the night sky. This is a perfect time of year to enjoy astronomy in Arizona. Lowell Observatory, 928-774-3358 Kitt Peak National Observatory, 520-318-8726

Special Astronomy Events Kitt Peak National Observatory, SW of Tucson JAN 1-DEC 31 Fun with the Sun All ages program about our favorite star. Hands-on activities, solar observing, making your own video. First Fri of every month. $10/adults, $8/seniors & kids, $6/school rate. 520-318-8726

Junk Bond Observatory, Hereford (near Sierra Vista) FEB 14 Huachuca Astronomy Club Public Star Party Open to star gazers of all ages. Not necessary to own a telescope, club members will be present to assist & show. Begins at dusk. 520-366-5788 MAR 12 Huachuca Astronomy Club Public Star Party Open to star gazers of all ages. Not necessary to own a telescope, club members will be present to assist & show. Begins at dusk. 520-366-5788

Observatories and Planetariums Lowell Observatory Flagstaff, 928-774-3358, www.lowell.edu Kitt Peak National Observatory Tucson, 520-318-8726, www.noao.edu/kpno/ Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory Amado 520-670-5707 Mt. Graham International Observatory Gov Aker Observatory/Discovery Park Safford 928-428-6260, www.discoverypark.com Arizona Science Center Phoenix, 602-716-2000, www.azscience.org Flandrau Science Center Tucson, 520-621-7827, www.flandrau.org

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff FEB 16 School is Out and Kids are Free Kids activities all day. Science demos, tours, movies, solar viewing, scavenger hunt & more, 9a-5p, children must be accompanied by an adult. FEB 29 Winterfest Star Fest Celebrating Flagstaff’s Winterfest with a FREE Star Fest. Telescopes will be set up for viewing, 7:30p. 928-774-3358 MAR 28 Planets Workshop Hands-on workshop to help you become acquainted with the planets visible to the unaided eye. Families/indiv’s welcome, space is limited, reserv req’d. 928-7743358 ext 267

Adm: $4 adults; college students, srs, AAA mem. $3.50; ages 5-17 $2. See ad on page 11 or below for a 2-FOR-1 discount coupon. 928-774-3358

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