Starstruck

Star party offers a tour of the night sky

NAVAJO TIMES | KRISTA ALLEN The Pleiades are seen to the right in the northern sky Saturday night from Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona, where a star party took place.

NAVAJO TIMES | KRISTA ALLEN
The Pleiades are seen to the right in the northern sky Saturday night from Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona, where a star party took place.

MARBLE CANYON, Ariz.

When Leesa Ricci asked astronomy enthusiasts if they want to go to Mars, no one obliged.

“The biggest problem is that Mars (has less surface gravity than Earth),” Ricci, a ranger at Cedar Breaks National Monument, explained during the star party on Navajo Bridge Saturday night. “Going to Mars would be interesting, but staying on Mars to live would be really bad.”

“We can’t really go there right now,” she added. “That’s our problem.”

Studies of cosmonauts and astronauts who spent many months in space revealed that space travelers can lose – on average – 1 to 2 percent of bone mass each month, according to NASA.

The first passengers to Mars, though, could take off as soon as 2024, according to the SpaceX rocket company.

SpaceX would take 100 passengers on the journey to the red, parched planet, with trips planned every 26 months, when Earth and Mars pass close to each other. And tickets might cost around $200,000 per person – about the median price of a house in the U.S.

Passengers would also be able to see Phobos and Deimos – Mars’ two small moons. Still, enthusiasts said they did not want to go to Mars.

It is thanks to Coconino County District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler that hundreds of astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers spent two nights (from Oct. 22 to 23) on Navajo Bridge taking tours of the stars and constellations under the night sky.

“It’s another one of my dreams come true!” Fowler exclaimed. “This is our second year.”

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About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is the Western Agency Bureau reporter for the Navajo Times. She covers the western half of the Navajo Nation, including Page, Tuba City, Kaibeto, Cameron, Tonalea and Shonto. She can be reached at kallen@navajotimes.com.