Oasis to become more stargazer-friendly

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

Visitors to Roosevelt County’s Oasis State Park this spring and summer will be able to see the night sky more clearly than they ever have, thanks to new lights installed this winter.

The park is retrofitting all of its current lights to more night-sky friendly lighting to benefit the many “star parties” the park hosts in the spring and summer.

The new lights are smaller and cast light downward better than the older, brighter flood lights.

Park officials say that the night light pollution will be cut drastically, because they are in the process of replacing the 19 street lights in the park with pedestal lighting, or ground lighting.

All buildings are being retrofitted as well.

“We’re out here in kind of a remote area anyway,” park technician Valerie Russ said. “So it makes the night sky gazing a lot more fun.”
The park also must retrofit the current solar lights.

“We have a couple of local astronomers who have said that it will be an asset to the park,” Russ said.”
The park typically hosts between 20 and 50 people for each star party.

“It’s great for anybody of any age who comes out here and wants to see the stars and learn more about them,” Russ said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

According to Whary, all lights should be installed by the first week of January, if not sooner.

“(This will help) tremendously,” park manager Jim Whary said. “Before, we had street lights and that took away from looking at the sky.”
Oasis State Park is located just off N.M. 467 outside Portales.

The park offers camping, fishing, birdwatching and hiking.

• Oasis State Park is also asking for volunteers to help replace rip-rap rock along the east side of the Oasis State Park pond to expedite the pond renovation project and to get the pond ready for spring fishing.

Those interested in helping can call 356-5331 or 1-888-667-2757 or stop by the park to fill out a volunteer agreement.