An OFLI Dark Sky Adventure in an Ancient Land
Posted 25 August 2012 - 07:46 AM
By James Barnett
Posted 25 August 2012 - 10:04 AM
Posted 25 August 2012 - 12:21 PM
Looks like a great trip.
I wish I could drive to such places a easily as you can from Petaluma.
Posted 25 August 2012 - 06:13 PM
Posted 25 August 2012 - 09:33 PM
Really enjoyed the article, a very interesting read.
What a talented and resourceful group here on CN.
Posted 25 August 2012 - 11:18 PM
Yeah, we don't get much sleep. Between the elevation, oxygen deprivation, low calorie intake, lots of exercise and sleep deprivation. It took me almost two weeks to rest up after returning. Gotta pay to play. I did lose 12 pounds.
As for equipment when leaving camp, remember that these campsites are very remote and fairly harsh. All but a couple of campsites were occupied by fellow astronomers. In the wilds, where there is no law, I find that people tend to be more respectful of property than back in the rat race. Everyone decided what to do with their own gear. Most just left it set up covered. Some moved it into tents. No one put it in their car that I know of. I had so much stuff (extra OTAs) that I set up a tent just for gear storage (i.e., a warehouse) and put stuff not in use in that tent.
This was a very enjoyable trip. I'm in the midst of planning the big 2013 trip now. I'll provide details in the General Observing forum on CN once plans start to firm up. Y'all will be invited. The more the merrier. The 2013 trip will be a truly jaw-dropping, once in a lifetime epic. Oh, okay, twice in a lifetime for me. I plan on repeating a 2008 solo dark sky outing I undertook, but extending it in time geography a bit.
Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:31 PM
Posted 26 August 2012 - 04:42 PM
i stayed in an air conditioned valley motel rather than go in for a camper's exposure to heat, but that also meant i missed the hike to the petroglyphs, which is a great adventure read as well. i'm glad you posted the picture of the valley from low on the wall of the hike, with the verdant canal in view. i had never seen the bishop area before and it was an eye opener. bishop is like a town in the 1950's, a major trucking lane down main street and tree lined residential blocks in a beautiful, deep mountain valley.
it was a pleasure meeting neil and absorbing his theories on achromatic refractors and his tale of optical theory disputes on CN, which made jim laugh out loud. and it was very kind of you jim to loan me the use of your CPC-1100 for the trip at the price of a collimation.
the variety of telescopes and mountings was enlightening to use, and the sky was beautiful, with the summer milky way rising at about half zenith, visible to the horizon pole to pole and in great detail. the seeing was very good, and sharpened my dissatisfaction with my coastal conditions and led me to take steps to remedy it.
as i said the mix of personalities was very congenial and there was an air of collaboration that was welcoming and also instructive (jim's demonstrations of the AP140, several eyepieces and a small mak cass; neil's small achromat), which i feel reflects very well of jim's spirit as a leader.
i look forward to a future session at the farm.
Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:01 PM
Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:28 PM
Eh up, bringing me out of retirement like this…. Shame on you!
Man, that was a quick CN publication?
Ah, fond memories!
Where did the cobalt blue skies go? Those majestic Sagittarius Star Clouds? Those aethereal mountain views and mysterious petroglyphs? The whacky jokes, the impossible stories, the wicked banter…..and the high of imbibing on super strong ale at journey’s end.
Seems like it happened a lifetime ago now……sigh.
You’re right about the effects of high altitude. I think, in retrospect, that I was working at ~ 80% cognitive capacity for much of the week…..and it showed at times.
You never mentioned that Mr. Bean moment where I walked into and broke your patio door on the morning after the landing. Ermm , sorry ‘bout that.
The whole trip – the people I met and the places I visited- were a great inspiration to me and I consider myself very fortunate to have lived it.
All I can say is a Big Thank You! for inviting me over and putting me up.
Your life will never be the same again.
Seriously though, CN is very fortunate indeed to have someone like you on board.
But you know what they say don’t you?
veritas in caritate!
Your chum in the sun,
The loony contubernium: Left to Right: Yours truly, JR, Tom, Randy, Brucy, Lonnie, Jeff & Reuben.
Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:35 PM
it was a pleasure meeting neil and absorbing his theories on achromatic refractors and his disputes on CN, which made jim laugh out loud.
Eh up Bruce!
'twas a pleasure to meet you too. I do need to read some more philosophy
Posted 26 August 2012 - 06:15 PM
For context, that shot is from a portion of the trip that, in the interest of space and CN bandwidth, I left out. Neil, Jeff, Reuben and I went four wheeling in the Alabama Foothills, at the base of Mount Whitney. It is a filming locale used for dozens of Hollywood films. In fact, the main road is called "Movie Road".
That boulder was surreal. I also liked the the big rock pile we visited first.
Here are a few more shots for posterity.
That's Tom's big, multi-room tent.
Chateau Bowling (Lonnie's tent).
Looking down on Bishop from 9500 feet, across the Owens Valley to the Sierras.
Nice interplay of sunlight on a Bristlecone.
Posted 26 August 2012 - 06:18 PM
Posted 26 August 2012 - 07:39 PM
Posted 26 August 2012 - 08:37 PM
the motel is your classic concrete block backpacker's crash pad with a supercapacity air conditioner and a sign in the bathroom that asks guests please not to use the towels to clean engine parts. highly recommended.
Posted 26 August 2012 - 08:56 PM
You'll be only 12 hours away from next year's destination. We citizens of the People's Republic of California will have a 19 hour drive to the site. I'm hoping some of our CN colleagues from Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas can make it. It'd be fun to have a big, ad hoc, CN group gathering.
I'll provide details in a couple of weeks. We're looking at the first week of September 2013.
Posted 27 August 2012 - 12:39 AM
Tuesday night Ruben and I were commenting on what we assumed was the light dome of Bishop to the north, a faint greenish glow. Duh, Bishop is almost due west of Grandview. I did some snooping about when I got home and it seems there was a pretty strong sky glow and oxygen wave event that night. I'd seen auroras as a kid in Illinois but that was a first for me. The viewing was good every night but Thursday night was something special.
Great trip, I'd do it again on a moment's notice.
Posted 27 August 2012 - 07:02 AM
Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:48 AM
Posted 27 August 2012 - 12:29 PM
Posted 27 August 2012 - 03:32 PM
Have you ever been to Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania?
It's quite nice for astronomy and about 5 hours from the Big Apple, give or take an hour for traffic depending on day and time of departure.
Posted 28 August 2012 - 05:38 PM
I've observed from the north of the Grand Canyon and had marvelously dark skies.
I have a few potential sites in mind. At this point, all I can say is that it will be in the Four Corners region; whether Arizona, New Mexico, Utah or Colorado is TBD. Whatever we come up with, it will include lots of interesting outdoor activities of both the daytime and nighttime varieties, some naturalism, archaeology and/or paleontology, geology, mineralogy, hiking, trekking, etc.
There are many decent viewing sites from north of Flagstaff to the AZ border.
Extreme SE AZ in the Chiricahua Mtns is also great viewing (that's SE of Tucson).
Don't overlook the Tonopah NV area, too. One of the "black" LP zones.