One of the things I really like about the Black Hills is how clear the night sky is. There are several reasons that the stars come through so brightly:
- Little air pollution. The air quality in the Black Hills and Badlands is incredibly good (check out these DENR air quality graphs from downtown Rapid City – downtown!).
- Dark skies. Because the area is pretty sparsely populated, light pollution also is very low.
- Few clouds. According to NOAA climate data, Rapid City averages more sunny days per year than either Miami or Honolulu, so chances are good that you won’t have to fight with cloud cover at night.
My friend Chad Blair took advantage of the clear weather last night to snap these shots of the lunar eclipse from his home in Deadwood. He took the shots by holding his digital camera up to his telescope, so these aren’t exactly professional-grade. They’re pretty neat all the same.