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DARK SKY HAPPENINGS - August 2020

Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude
109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m

Keep the Lights Off for Nocturnal Desert Dwellers
By Crystal White

Eek! What was that?! Something rustles in the dead leaves under a rabbitbrush and you hear a soft squeak. Phew. Probably just a kangaroo rat. You hear more movement and switch on your headlamp to get a look at it. Silence. The desert is still. Nothing moves. Moths start to flutter near your face in the light and you switch it off and keep walking. Weird. You were sure there was something there just a minute ago…

Sunrise-Sunset for August(The time of sunrise and sunset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary depending upon the landscape.)

DATE

SUNRISE

SUNSET

Sat, Aug 1

6:21 am

8:27 pm

Sun, Aug 2

6:22 am

8:26 pm

Mon, Aug 3

6:23 am

8:25 pm

Tue, Aug 4

6:23 am

8:24 pm

Wed, Aug 5

6:24 am

8:23 pm

Thu, Aug 6

6:25 am

8:22 pm

Fri, Aug 7

6:26 am

8:20 pm

Sat, Aug 8

6:27 am

8:19 pm

Sun, Aug 9

6:28 am

8:18 pm

Mon, Aug 10

6:29 am

8:17 pm

Tue, Aug 11

6:30 am

8:16 pm

Wed, Aug 12

6:31 am

8:14 pm

Thu, Aug 13

6:31 am

8:13 pm

Fri, Aug 14

6:32 am

8:12 pm

Sat, Aug 15

6:33 am

8:10 pm

Sun, Aug 16

6:34 am

8:09 pm

Mon, Aug 17

6:35 am

8:08 pm

Tue, Aug 18

6:36 am

8:06 pm

Wed, Aug 19

6:37 am

8:05 pm

Thu, Aug 20

6:38 am

8:04 pm

Fri, Aug 21

6:39 am

8:02 pm

Sat, Aug 22

6:39 am

8:01 pm

Sun, Aug 23

6:40 am

7:59 pm

Mon, Aug 24

6:41 am

7:58 pm

Tue, Aug 25

6:42 am

7:57 pm

Wed, Aug 26

6:43 am

7:55 pm

Thu, Aug 27

6:44 am

7:54 pm

Fri, Aug 28

6:45 am

7:52 pm

Sat, Aug 29

6:46 am

7:51 pm

Sun, Aug 30

6:47 am

7:49 pm

Mon, Aug 31

6:47 am

7:48 pm

Kangaroo RatDid you notice how the kangaroo rat stopped moving when you turned on your headlamp? Artificial light at night affects the behavior of animals that have grown accustomed to living in the darkness, and actually need it to survive. Kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) are only one of many nocturnal desert dwellers that are sensitive to light. Our little camp-robbers are known to be out less even during the full moon; imagine what bright electric lights look like to them!

There are many good reasons for animals to be nocturnal in the desert, heat being only the most obvious one. You may have noticed the large eyes of the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), just one of the creatures hungry for a rodent dinner. Under cover of darkness, small animals can’t be seen as well, and can venture out of the safety of their burrows to forage for seeds, vegetation, and insects.
Starry campsite
It’s too hot and dangerous for the little critters to be out during the day, and when we humans add light to their nighttime environment, it can confuse them, and even lead to their untimely demise through increased predation, decreased reproduction, habitat loss, and starvation. The owls, coyotes, and bobcats lose out on dinner too, if their prey is too nervous to come out into a too-well-lit environment.

Great Hornet OwlThink what it would be like if all of sudden our days became unexpectedly dark, and we had to stumble around in places we knew well in the daylight – we’d be so confused! This is how the nocturnal animals feel when bright lights make their world strange and dangerous. Next time you’re out at night in your neighborhood or campsite, take a minute and see if you can let your eyes adjust, listen for the movements of the busy nocturnal world, look up at our beautiful stars, and leave the lights off.

 

The Moab Dark Skies was established by the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks in conjunction with the National Park Service and Utah State Parks Division of Natural Resources.


MOON HAPPENINGS
Aug 3 - Full Moon at 9:58 am
Aug 25 - First Quarter at 11:57 am

 
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