White Sands National Monument is beautiful place during the day but is spectacular in the evening. As the sun sets, colors in the sky change from multiple shades of blues, purples, pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows. The colors reflect upon the white sand and appear to make the sand glow to the color in the sky. On a night when the moon is full, it is quite the sight. White Sands hosts Full Moon Nights once a month from May to October in the amphitheatre. Each event is different, featuring live music, archeological adventures, story-telling, and more. . The low admission price (only $3 per person 16 older, anyone younger gets in free) includes all the entertainment. For more details about each night go to www.nps.gov/whsa.
On June 23rd the full moon was particularly different from the rest because it was a Supermoon. Taking out the astronomy books, a Supermoon or a Perigee Full Moon, is produced when the elliptical orbit of the moon is closest to the Earth. The egg-shaped orbit results in a brighter and bigger Moon. This Supermoon will be the only one this year. Usually, Supermoons take place about every 14 full moon cycles and only about every 14 years Supermoons coincide with the solstice. The Supermoon that was the closest to Earth in 18 years occurred in March 2011. We will have to wait until August 10th, 2014, before we see a Supermoon again, but it will be even closer and brighter than this year’s.
This Moon was truly enthralling to the eyes. As the night progressed the Supermoon appeared over the horizon, and starting out as bright yellow. Then it changed to a deep orange with a bright orange-yellow glow around it. As the Moon reached higher and higher in the sky it eventually changed to white. While looking at the surface of the Moon, all the marks and craters that were carved into it were visible without using binoculars. It was so bright and massive it was inevitable not to look.
That night’s event included live music by Agüeybaná, a five-piece ensemble. The musicians performed a variety of sounds, melodies, and rhythms of American, Latin American, and Caribbean style. The musicians are all uniquely talented, bringing a sound unlike any other from classics to their own original songs. Throughout the night many listeners enthusiastically moved to the beat.
Many have said that the transition from the sunset to the Moon was very beautiful and quite the sight to see. It is the perfect event to take your significant other to for a nice romantic evening, or to take all your friends for a night of fun in the dunes. There is always a big turnout because these are the only times you can visit the park after hours. Many people who attend a Full Moon Night for the first time return regularly. So, rather than going to the movies, bowling, or eating out—which can quickly get old and expensive—these nights in the white dunes change it up a bit and it won’t burn a whole your in wallet.