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Winter stargazing in Southern California?

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#1 efedut

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:22 PM

Hello everyone,

I plan to be in LA/San Diego during the first half of February 2013 and, as it will be the new moon period, would like to visit some dark-sky site for winter gazing. Currently, I am deciding between Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Provincial Park. Of those two, which one you would recommend better? February seems to be the most cloudy period over there, so I don't know which area is on average has more clouds.

Thanks a lot!

#2 GpB311

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:41 PM

Im just barely planning the trip myself, but my uncle has repeatedly told me to take my telescope out towards Joshua Tree. Specifically, he named Amboy Caldera/crater, which is actually about 50miles away from Joshua Tree, but tough to beat as far as the sky goes according to him.

I dont have anything to offer on Anza-Borrego, but if you end up there, id love to hear how it was for future reference.

#3 lintonius

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:00 PM

Well, I'm leaving SoCal for the dark skies of southern Utah (not to mention numerous other reasons;^),
but you'll do well wherever you end up going.
There was some good advice in this recent thread you should read...

http://www.cloudynig...5514555/page...

Have fun!
Linton

#4 CharlesW

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 02:13 AM

The Cottonwood Springs campground in the Joshua Tree National Park has some nice facilities, ie bathrooms, but it is a blue zone and motor homes do drive by on occasion with their headlights. If you drive a little farther east on the 10 to Desert Center and then about 7 miles north on the 177, you get into a gray zone and it is very dark. But it is just you and the creosote bush, no cell service. Even darker is Clarks Pass which is a little farther up the 177 and then west on the 62. In San Diego there is no need to drive out to the desert to Anza. Look up the location of SDSU's observatory off of the Sunrise Highway on Mt. Laguna. They won't let you on the property but there are side roads up there, 6000 ft, that have the same or better views. And it rarely snows. I'd be happy to share some more info if you PM me.

#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 04:56 AM

Hello everyone,

I plan to be in LA/San Diego during the first half of February 2013 and, as it will be the new moon period, would like to visit some dark-sky site for winter gazing. Currently, I am deciding between Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Provincial Park. Of those two, which one you would recommend better? February seems to be the most cloudy period over there, so I don't know which area is on average has more clouds.

Thanks a lot!


It is difficult to predict the cloudiness of the two areas during the winter, the clouds are almost always due to passing weather fronts and both regions are sheltered behind mountain ranges so both are likely to be similar.

My wife and I have a small place in the mountains a few miles west of the southern end of the Anza-Borrego state park, most often it is clear but one can never know. If I were in your situation, I would just stay mobile, ready to pick move. The distance from Joshua Tree to Anza-Borrego is smaller than the distances inside the two parks. There are also other places, to consider, the Mojave National Preserve is north east of Joshua Tree.

How much equipment will you be bringing? How long will you be staying?

(This photo is looking from our entrance to the north-east to the Anza-Borrego State Park)

Jon

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#6 efedut

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:01 AM

Thank you all so much!

Jon, I will be bringing my Stellarvue SV105 and Canon IS binos (I will be travelling from Calgary, Canada). The thing is, it's also a family vacation, I'll be travelling with my wife and a daughter -- they both love astronomy as well -- so we'll need a decent place to stay. We will spend 4-5 nights stargazing and exploring the desert (before and during the new moon) and about the same amount of time in San Diego itself afterwards.

It appears that both Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego are on par with respect to LP and cloudness, so it seems to be the matter of just personal preference. Which is good! Whatever the weather over there, it's granted to be MUCH better than our winter misery here, in Alberta.

Thanks again!

#7 EddWen

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:58 PM

I suggest you check the near term (~15 minutes) satellite pictures found at the NWS website if clouds are forecast:

http://newweb.wrh.no...dex.php?wfo=fgz

Frequently, but not all the time, clouds are blocked by the mountains. So it is possible that Anza might cloudy when Joshua is clear. I used to have a cabin in Big Bear and flew there on weekends. When cloudy, I could sometimes overfly the clouds to the lee side of the mountains (Joshua)and fly under the clouds back towards Big Bear airport.

Don't pay attention to our local TV weather reporters. They go gonzo if any rain/snow in the mountains is forecast at a 10% probability. The Weather Channel is better, but they seemingly spend only about 10% of their broadcast time talking about the Left Coast.






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