Posted By Jeff Poplin
The dark site (Pound Ranch) is "officially" used only Friday and Saturday. This is where the famous chuck wagon dinner is held. Come hungry! The Pound Ranch is about a 45 minute drive from Socorro. Facilities are non-exsistent, portable toilets are available during the end of the week. If you only want to observe and not take part in the other activities, you must supply everything for yourself.
New this year is the chance to observe from the future site of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. I have not been to this spot, so I cannot comment on it, but the picture I've seen is intriguing. Again, this is a one nighter, so it would be a crap-shoot, weatherwise.
The VLA insider's tour was well worth the time. Jon Spargo's enthusiasm and details are delighful and entertaining. I only wish they would offer a viewing of "Contact" sometime during the week. After taking the tour, watching the movie is fun, seeing all the spots where you just stood.
The folks behind Enchanted Skies have worked hard at providing a well rounded , something-for-everyone event. Due to location differences and the number of choices available, you can't possibly do it all - especially if the skies are clear and you observe all night. On the other hand, if clouds are persistent, there is plenty of other things to do. As with so many other things in life, it's a balancing act between choices and at this star party you have plenty to make.
My visit to ESSP was in 2001, just after 9/11 and attendance was down, probably due to the preceding month's tragedies. I was disappointed in the turnout, but the folks I met were terrific and I had a lot of fun. More preparation on my part (camping equipment) would have allowed me to get more out of the incredible, dark -truly enchanting- skies.
Hope this helps and have a good time! 8)
Another good review is here: