If you see a bat-like bird with long, narrow wings zigzagging across the sky in early morning or evening twilight, it’s likely the common nighthawk. But in a small corner of northern Arizona, another nighthawk species is also found.
There is a long-standing tradition in Arizona of literary pilgrimages. People journey to Walnut Canyon where Willa Cather gathered inspiration for her 1915 novel ‘Song of the Lark’. Others belly up to the bar at The Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff where Zane Grey wrote ‘The Call of the Canyon’ in an upstairs room in 1923. And some venture to the North Rim Lookout Tower where Edward Abbey worked as a fire scout in the early 1970’s, filling up journal after journal with observations and musings. Scott Thybony made his own pilgrimage to the tower for his latest Canyon Commentary.
Some scientists who study Mars also study Northern Arizona. That’s because our lava fields and water-carved canyons are similar to Martian terrain. It’s a good place to test out whether future colonists on Mars would be able to build houses out of local materials. That’s what astronomer Antonio Paris of St. Petersburg College in Florida is doing. He’s traveling the Colorado Plateau collecting soil samples to see if they’ll make good cement. He told KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny, if works here, it might also work on Mars.