Starry nights and petroglyphs: Hwy 50 in Nevada

Highway 50 through Nevada is often called “The loneliest highway in the world.” Since Interstate 80 was completed in 19xx, most traffic through Nevada has chosen to use that route, abandoning Hwy 50 and the businesses along the route. One of the upsides of this desolation is great stargazing. Below is a map from

Draft, more being added soon!

New Moons for 2022

The brightest light that disrupts star gazing, however, is a natural phenomenon: The moon. During a full moon, the light from the moon (remember, this light is just a reflection of the sun’s light) saturates the sky and makes dim objects much less visible.

The best time for viewing is during a new moon, when the moon is between the sun and the earth, so we don’t see it at night. If you can’t catch a new moon, try a first- or third-quarter. Stellarium is a great app that you can use to determine times when the sky is least affected by the moon. Here’s their online version.

Occasionally, during full moons, we get lunar eclipses (when the shadow of the earth passes over the full moon. These are visible with the ‘naked eye,’ and can be seen from anywhere in the path. Here, for example is the November 2021 partial lunar eclipse.

So, a trip to central Nevada begs to be taken during a new moon. Here’s a great page to look up future moon phases: The list on the right shows new moon times in the western US for 2022 (remember, the moon phase is the same everywhere on earth, it’s just the exact time that changes).

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

A petroglyph is a carving in a rock:

“carving on or in stone, a rock-carving,” usually a prehistoric one, 1854, from French pétroglyphe, from Greek petra “rock” (which is of unknown origin) + glyphē “carving” (from PIE root *gleubh- “to tear apart, cleave”). An earlier word was petrograph (1810). Related: Petroglyphic. Source: Online Etymological Dictionary.

“A great place to take a walk, let the kids run, have a picnic, spend a few days camping, and look at ancient petroglyphs. Hickison offers long vistas, shade, and an opportunity to think about early Native Americans hunting, drawing on rock, and living in this area.

The cultural resources at this site are protected by federal law against damage, defacement, removal, etc., and visitors should take care to help protect these sites. The native rock should not be carved, painted or otherwise modified in any way.” Source: BLM page