STATE PARK ADVENTURES
For many people, gazing into the night sky sparks a special kind of appreciation and awe. Copper Breaks State Park in the Rolling Plains of North Texas provides a perfect place to see the stars, away from the bright lights of the city.
The park offers stargazers plenty of wide-open spaces and dark skies, enabling unimpeded viewing of constellations, planets, nebulae, galaxies and other celestial wonders. It has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Copper Breaks has a Bortle Scale rating of 2 (the scale ranges from Class 1, the darkest skies available, through Class 9, city skies).
“The stars steal the show,” says park interpretive specialist Stewart Lefevre. “They’re so vibrant out here. On a new-moon night, they are truly spectacular.”
The park presents ranger-led stargazing programs throughout the year.
Texas’ night skies are growing brighter all the time, with the spread of artificial lights being the main culprit. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department promotes preservation of night skies and stargazing through its dark skies program.
After the sun goes down at Copper Breaks, visitors can head to the Dark Sky Viewing Area or just stay in a campsite to check out the Milky Way, winter constellations such as Orion the hunter, summer constellations such as Sagittarius the centaur and year-round favorites such as the Big and Little Dipper.
“The cosmos is within us,” astronomer Carl Sagan said. “We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
Perhaps you’ll feel the same inclination to ponder your place in the universe as you gaze into the night sky.
Take a Break
Russell Roe Ben Jacobi; Inset from top Jennifer Ramos; Travis Lacoss; Dave Minton
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