Las Cruces Bulletin For residents of and visitors to the Southwest alike, White Sands National Monument is a must-see, its miles and miles of rolling, white hills almost otherworldly. At no time is this truer than during a full moon, when the park’s nearly 300 miles of gypsum sand – the largest of its kind in the world – are bathed in eerily beautiful lunar light. To complement this natural wonder, White Sands National Monument is hostin a summer full of special full-moon programs, in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service, which begins in 2016. This year’s program began May 3, as the Santa Fe and El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestras performed an evening of classical music by moonlight to hundreds and hundreds of spectators. If you missed that performance, never fear – the park has a different exciting program each month through October. At 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, the award-wining Mariachi Fuego del Sol – a nine-person band founded in 2013 and quickly dubbed “the happiest Mariachi in the Southwest” – will present an evening of mariachi music under the stars. At 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, Las Cruces’ own La Cella Bella string quartet will bring its unique brand of cello music to the dunes for an evening of innovative arrangements of familiar songs, ranging from folk songs to jazz ballads to contemporary rock hits to the pop hits of yesteryear. At 8 p.m. Friday, July 31, Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Dana Falconberry and her five-piece band present and evening of “rusticated” chamber music on banjo, cello and vocal harmony, tunes they’ve performed at festivals including Austin City Limits, South By Southwest and Noise Pop. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, get ready for an evening of energetic rock and pop with Shock Action, the 1st Armored Division’s Band out of Fort Bliss, which will blaze through a high-caliber repertoire of R&B, hip-hop, classic rap and rock, country and more. At 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, park rangers and researchers will be on hand to present demonstrations on the stunning science found within the confines of White Sands National Park – from bugs and footprints of giant Ice Age animals to studies of the biology and mineralogy – that make its dunes a true natural and geographic wonder. Closing out White Sands National Monument’s 2015 Full-Moon Nights schedule, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, photographer, writer and artist Diana Molina will present an evening of tradition, culture and nature as she discusses the heritage of the Land of Enchantment and the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos – or “day of the dead” – through its symbols and iconography. This imagery includes a wide variety of regional mainstays, from the calacas and Calaveras (skulls and skeletons) of Dia de los Muertos, the Virgin of Guadalupe and Mimbres rock art, found in the Mimbres Mogollon area that lies north, east and west of Deming. These better-known symbols and icons will be augmented with many that aren’t as familiar to those who live in the Southwest, but are of equal importance to our state’s history, heritage and culture. All of the park’s Full Moon Nights programs are free and open to the public. Dunes open at 7 p.m. daily. Beginning Sunday, May 24, visitors must enter the park no later than 8 p.m., and must exit no later than 9 p.m. – except on nights that hold one of the park’s programs. Admission to the park is $3 for adults age 16 and older and free for children 15 and younger. For more information on the park, operating hours, special events and the Full Moon Nights program, visit www.nps.gov/whsa. Zak Hansen can be reached at 680-1958 or zak@lascrucesbulletin. com. White Sands National Monument will host a summer full of special fullmoon programs, in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service, which begins in 2016.