Star Gazing with Dolores Elementary 4th Graders

Starry skies, a moon rising, and Jupiter’s moons were the featured attractions as the Montezuma Land Conservancy and The Nature Center at Butler Corner, just outside of Dolores, hosted a night of star gazing for 25 Dolores Elementary 4th graders, their families and teachers on May 11th.  It was a beautiful calm night and the students had a chance to experience the night sky away from the lights of town and their favorite electronic device.

In the classroom they had been studying the solar system and that evening, looking through a spotting scope, the students watched the moon rise, observed Jupiter and 3 of its moons and were able to identify the Big Dipper and the North Star.  Programming like this is one example of how MLC is working with teachers to bring their studies to life in the out-of-doors.

Jay Loschert, Outreach and Education Coordinator at MLC spoke to the students about land conservation and how a place like the Nature Center at Butler Corner provides a place where light pollution doesn’t exist. While conservation easements are most often associated with protecting our scenic views and working farms and ranches, they also protect our night skies and help ensure southwest Colorado will always be home to dark skies and bright stars.  After stargazing, the students enjoyed a bonfire and a nature hike where lots of laughter could be heard as they walked through the trees.

The teachers and parents enjoyed the experience too. Parents expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to get their kids out in nature, away from the house and away from their screens at such a beautiful place just minutes away from home.

MLC is currently working with The Nature Center at Butler Corner to permanently protect it with a conservation easement in a GOCO-supported transaction.  For more information on programming like this or to get involved, email  We’d love to hear your ideas and have your volunteer support!

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