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Dark Sites in Southern California

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#1 choran

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:09 PM

Hello, all. I'm looking for a few safe, low to medium altitude dark sky viewing locations in Southern California. I'm in the San Gabriel valley area 20 miles or so east of Los Angeles. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.

#2 CharlesW

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:54 PM

These aren't usable in the summer but the south end of Joshua Tree National park, Desert Center, Amboy, the area east of 29 Palms. Also, Anza.

#3 choran

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:29 PM

Thanks Charles. When you say "not usable" in summer, do you mean due to heat or...?
Thanks,
CH

#4 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 07:16 PM

Right, heat is a huge factor. Cottonwood Springs campground in the south end of Joshua Tree is a little higher in elevation that knocks off a few degrees. Also there is running water and flush toilets to make it a little more civilized. $15 fee per day. No shade or electricity. So bring 2 ice chests, a tarp for shade, and a cot or lounge chair for a nap. I also make a couple of trips to the gas station on I-10 at Chiriaco Summit (about 10 miles away) to cool off. You can expect the afternoon to be uncomfortable but otherwise OK. This weekend's heat wave may be too much.

Mt Pinos north of LA is a lot higher in elevation. I haven't been there, so maybe someone else can comment. But it draws a lot of astronomers.

Mike

#5 Zoomit

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:44 PM

Here're some more ideas:

http://www.observing...s.com/ds_ca.htm

http://www.starimage..._Sites_Page.htm

#6 Zoomit

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:51 PM

I'll add that in the hot summer months (Jul-Sep), the only appealing places for me would be Mt Pinos, Walker Pass Campground or Grandview Campground. BTW, I'm already 2 hrs north of LA so I'm biased that direction.

Mt. Pinos is very busy this time of year so it's definitely a more social event. I suspect Walker Pass is not frequented very much and Grandview is great but a longer haul to get there.

#7 AstroTatDad

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:06 PM

in the first link that Brandon put up, I was near the Barstow spot last night with my family. Seeing wasn't great last night and will be this way for a while because of the heat. But is a good area when it's nice. Also in that list the San Deigo one where the SDAA site is at is nice too, I goto a area that is about north from that spot off the 8 and it's really nice there. With the heat at this time haze and so on it's hard.

#8 CharlesW

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:15 PM

Can I ask why you are limited to low to mid altitude? There are some good places above 6000' in SoCal.

#9 Alph

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:40 AM

Can I ask why you are limited to low to mid altitude? There are some good places above 6000' in SoCal.

Is it really so hard to name them?

#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 05:15 AM

Hello, all. I'm looking for a few safe, low to medium altitude dark sky viewing locations in Southern California. I'm in the San Gabriel valley area 20 miles or so east of Los Angeles. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.


Compared to the San Gabriel valley, just about anywhere that is further out from the city and light pollution will be darker. The desert and the mountains are prime choices. This time of the year, I prefer higher elevations, it's cooler during the day and not so cold at night.

I live in San Diego, there are some nice spots down this way. They are not as dark as the middle of the Navajo reservation in NE Arizona but the Milky Way is clearly visible, blazing overhead. Mount Palomar is not the darkest but there are campgrounds and the 200 inch is nearby for a visit during the day. The Laguna mounts have a number of locations and overlooks and the skies are quite dark there.

The San Diego Astronomy Association site it at Tierra del Sol in eastern San Diego, it's quite a drive for you, it's about 70 miles east of San Diego. We have a small place about 4 miles north east of Tierra del Sol. It's most often clear and dark.. I was out there for Wednesday-Saturday nights, there was a lot to see.

Jon

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#11 choran

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 11:26 AM

Thank you all so much for your help on this. ONce it gets a bit cooler I will head out! Thanks again.
Chuck

#12 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 11:53 AM

Thank you all so much for your help on this. ONce it gets a bit cooler I will head out! Thanks again.
Chuck


No need to wait for it to get cooler, just go to higher altitudes. At 6000 feet it's warm but not hot during day. At night you will be wearing a jacket.

Jon

#13 choran

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:35 PM

Medical issues make altitude a problem.

#14 AstroTatDad

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 05:33 PM



Hey Jon,

is that spot in the photo near by the club's spot? I been going to a few spots off the 8 at exit Japatul Valley RD (79) I would like to check that one out, where is that? The place I go is close to the hwy I get car lights a lot. it's a good spot, but the head lights kill it.. lol we have to close our eyes when a car comes.

#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 09:39 PM

Medical issues make altitude a problem.


Ahh... so, what is the upper limit?

Jon

#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 09:45 PM

Hey Jon,

is that spot in the photo near by the club's spot? I been going to a few spots off the 8 at exit Japatul Valley RD (79) I would like to check that one out, where is that? The place I go is close to the hwy I get car lights a lot. it's a good spot, but the head lights kill it.. lol we have to close our eyes when a car comes.


This spot is about 20 miles further out 8 East, past Pine Valley, past the Immigration Check point. It's an old helicopter pad from the forest service. We called it the Starpad.

Directions, 8 East to Kitchen Creek Road. North on Kitchen Creek Road about 1.7 miles (not sure anymore), on the right there is a NO SHOOTING sign. Right there is a narrow paved road that leads to the pad. It's paved and at a slight angle.

Since that photo was taken, a new border patrol station was put in down in the valley. I am not sure how it affects the light pollution but there are no cars passing by..

Jon

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#17 AstroTatDad

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 10:01 PM

awesome, thanks so much. I heard of that spot but didn't know were it was.

#18 choran

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 10:11 PM

Thanks again everyone from you kind help.
Chuck

#19 jrbarnett

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 11:35 PM

Chuck, what is the altitude cap you feel comfortable with? There's a campground at Walker Pass trailhead that looks pretty good. It's at 5k feet.

http://www.blm.gov/c...portunities/...

Not a day trip, but not too far from your neck of the woods for a campout.

Though not in southern California, per se, another decent camp site for astronomy is the Lake San Antonio overflow campground in inland Monterey County. The Calstar star party is held there each year. It's pretty dark and not high at all in elevation. It'd be about 4 hours from your area.

Though not super dark, I'm very partial to Anza Borrego State Park. You can rent a casita with a private pool, and drive a short distance to darker sites for few hours of observing and then make it back to a proper bed for a good night"s sleep.

The next time we go to the Mojave National Preserve, I'll be sure to invite you. The group campground is dark, private and at bout 3000 feet.

Good luck,

Jim

#20 Americal

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 02:42 AM

Chuck, there's a lot of possibilities from where you are. I'm in La Verne and distance is darkness in the LA light hole. There's a commercial campground up the Mt Baldy Road at Cow Canyon saddle that's always been very accommodating to me. I personally have always been an open-country desert camper, I travel prepared but I've never had a problem with people in the open/uncitified desert. The farther out you go the fewer the people/problems. My preference is around Opal Mountain northwest of Barstow. It's about 2 1/2 hours from home, 3200' and dark (some light dome south from LA and slight east from Vegas). North of Lucerne Valley on the side roads off CA 247 after you cross the dry lake are some pretty good spots but you are closer to LA. Kinda depends on your dirt road confidence level and your vehicle. A pickup will handle most of the desert roads but you wanna do it in the daylight. PM me and I can get you some GPS coordinates.

#21 youngamateur42

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 10:43 AM

Same as AMERICAL, wait, your in La Verne, me too!!!!

#22 krp

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 12:46 PM

I'm interested in this thread since I will be in southern California at the end of the month. The moon will be in the way most of the time, but I'm hoping to get out for a couple hours of darkness on the 28th. I'll be in Anaheim, is Mount Palomar worth the trip? I'm mainly interested in taking wide angle pictures of the milky way, from a more southerly location. It looks like there are some pulloffs with great views south off of E Grade Rd.

#23 acochran

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 03:32 PM

Mt. Palomar roughly 2 hour drive south of Anaheim. In a green zone Milky Way is visible, but with a moon photos will be a problem. Desert is darker, but could be a waste of time with the Moon in the sky. Mt Pinos 2 hrs North of Anaheim a popular astronomy spot, but you can't escape the Moon.
Andy

#24 AstroTatDad

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 05:08 PM

The moon will rise at 11:40pm on the 28th. So you will have a little time, the milkyway is fair view from up there depending on the weather. You should take a tour to see the hale 200 inch telescope in the day.

#25 careysub

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 06:06 PM

Barstow, which is at 2200 ft vs 900 ft for Amboy Crater (and about 80 miles away, but similar desert environment) posts these average daily highs and lows:

Avg High Avg Low
Jan 61 37
Feb 65 40
Mar 72 46
Apr 80 51
May 90 60
Jun 99 68
Jul 105 74
Aug 103 73
Sep 96 66
Oct 83 55
Nov 70 43
Dec 60 36

If the dry adiabatic lapse rate is to be believed, the temperature at Amboy should be about 6 degrees hotter. (I think the true differential is less than this though, a few degrees at most.)

The temperatures are quite pleasant at night even in July.

The day heat is another matter entirely. It is a dry heat of course, and if you drink copious amounts of water and stay in the shade during the daytime temperatures above 100 (but below 110) are pretty tolerable - for me anyway.

Fans can help, and you might consider making a portable swamp cooler:
http://burningman.re...wampcooler.html

Still, even a desert rat dude would think twice about heading out in July or August, with those daily 100+ temperatures.






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