Clouds Block Lunar Eclipse, but IV Desert Museum Party Goes On

Telescopes were focused on the eastern horizon waiting for the clouds to break at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum’s Stargazing event Friday night.

OCOTILLO — With no glow from city lights, the dark night skies over Ocotillo are perfect for stargazing, and a great choice for Imperial Valley Desert Museum’s Stargazing event Friday night, giving the public the chance to witness a special lunar eclipse show.

This past weekend, the world was treated to an exceptional trifecta show: a penumbral, lightly shaded, lunar eclipse; a winter moon; and a comet — all expected to be clearly in view.  According to Neal Hitch, museum director, it was supposed to be perfect for the facility to hold one of its most unique and well-known events.

“As a desert museum, we are celebrating the special things of where we live,” said Hitch.

However, due to overcast skies, neither the penumbral eclipse nor the comet, were visible. Not even with six telescopes set up outside the museum.

And yet, it did not appear to dampen spirits of the curious stargazers who attended the event. Inside the museum were activities to be played and presentations to hear.  A talk on the celestial events in the night sky was given by Mike Rood, a local authority, before everyone tried to look through the telescopes.

Attendees heard about a Kumeyaay legend of the love between the sun and moon, and they learned to play the Kumeyaay game “Shahook” that was displayed on the museum floor.

Inside the interactive exhibits were open for visitors to see.

The newly-renovated museum itself was open for the audience to see artifacts and learn the history of the Imperial Valley.

“Every time I come here, there’s something new,” said Kathy Beeson, a visitor from Oregon who’s been to the Desert Museum multiple times. “We saw it from the road, so we came, and the people we meet here are so friendly and they teach the kids so much.”

“We used to look over, waiting for it to open,” said Ben Benton, an El Centro resident. “We come out and try to support the museum. You can always learn something here.”

The Desert Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Imperial Valley

According to Hitch, the museum’s overall goal is to teach something to the people of the Valley who come to visit. While stargazing is the most popular event, it also has educational tours, as well as day and night hikes for the public.

“We want to let everyone stop for a minute in their busy lives and learn something,” said Hitch.