Pipe Spring Night Sky – The Story of Two Night Skies
“The future impact will be citizen scientists who will then educate and guide local businesses, organizations and residents on the benefits of protecting dark skies and how community members can help. This project will be the first step in encouraging our local community to become more aware of the importance of Dark Skies.”
– Fermin Salas, Chief of Interpretation, Pipe Spring National Monument
In a sacred Paiute legend, a spirit, who in human form went by the name Na-Gah, made a courageous journey to the center of the sky destined to shine forever as the North Star for all to see. His story, and those like it, are some of the earliest oral traditions shared by western indigenous tribes as they sought to interpret and understand the seemingly magical movements of the night sky.
Far from city lights, in remote Northern Arizona, is the historic and tribally significant Pipe Spring National Monument. The monument lies entirely within the Kaibab Indian Reservation with the park’s visitor center adjacent to the tribal museum. In addition to the rich collection of native culture, the park also boasts some of the darkest skies in Arizona.
Already in the process of achieving International Dark Sky Park status, Pipe Spring is unique to other sites, offering a focus on the legends and stories of the Southern Paiute. With your help, this project will fund the creation of a viewing area where park guests can come to experience and enjoy the night sky, not just as it is widely appreciated today, but as it was and continues to be understood by the Paiute people. Interpretive signage will explain the story of “two” nights, one side filled with the Greco-Roman constellations and the other contrasted with stories and images of the Southern Paiute.
More than simply a spot to stargaze, this joint project among the National Park Service and the Tribe, will give a new home to existing ranger programs, Tribally hosted night sky events, and expanded activities for astronomy festivals. The park’s goal is to foster a community of dedicated Dark Sky lovers, ensuring the conservation of this region’s delicate night sky.