Jump to content


Photo

Dark Sites in Southern California

  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#26 hm insulators

hm insulators

    Aurora

  • -----
  • Posts: 4819
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2007

Posted 03 July 2013 - 12:58 PM

Choran, depending on what part of the San Gabriel Valley you're in, one spot I've done some hiking in (at least during cooler months) is off the end of something called Shoemaker Canyon Road. You have to go up Highway 39 to what I believe is East Fork Road, go up that a ways, and then Shoemaker Canyon Road bears left from that for a couple of miles. Check local fire restrictions first. If nothing else, scope it out, so to speak, during the daytime, and then again at night. The location I'm thinking of is fairly low altitude and down in a big canyon a little bit, so you won't be able to see all the sky but on the other hand, should help with blocking the L.A. light dome, too.

#27 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20320
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:38 PM

Chuck, Tom (Americal) is a great resource for SoCal observing sites. Tom has reconnoitered for and guided a bunch of us NorCal'ers on a couple of southerly dark sky odysseys; first to the Mojave National Preserve and then later to an ancient Paiute rock art site near Bishop called "Sky Rock". He's become a very good friend and fixture on our long dark sky trips. In fact, I'll be spending a week with Tom and some other clubmates this September in New Mexico. Absolutely the finest kind. :waytogo:

- Jim

#28 careysub

careysub

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1902
  • Joined: 18 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:50 AM

There are two campgrounds in the Mojave National Preserve that are at significant elevations: the Hole-In-The-Wall Campground at 4400 feet, and Mid-Hills Campground at 5600 feet.

Both are in the satellite map "grey zone", but rather close to the edge of the Las Vegas blue zone light dome (of the two, Hole-In-The-Wall is a bit farther away).

The dry air cooling with altitude is nominally 5.5 F per 1000 ft, so they should be 14 F and 20 F cooler than Barstow respectively, making the daytime temperatures quite tolerable even at the height of summer.

(I'll have to test this out in August.)

#29 the1andonlyfinn

the1andonlyfinn

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: 17 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Rancho Cucamonga, California

Posted 04 July 2013 - 05:11 PM

If you are looking for a short drive and decent skies, Lytle Creek off the I-15 (SIERRA AVE EXIT, TURN LEFT/NORTH) is very close to SGV and about an orange/yellow zone. There is a ranger station w/ benches, parking and bathrooms, and numerous pull-over spots along Lytle Creek Rd. Taking it to it's end brings you to the Firing Range, after sundown it's abandoned with little if any vehicle traffic. It is also a bit cooler than the dark sky locations in the Mojave, but the trade off is more light pollution. Still, for a close drive, it can't be beat.

#30 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20320
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 04 July 2013 - 07:18 PM

Hole in the Wall and Black Canyon Group and Equestrian Camp share the same approximate elevation. The Group camp is across the canyon from the Visitor's Center and Hole in the Wall, and shielded from the noise and light of the often crowded and RV'ed Hole in the Wall site by scrub and some swales/berms (not to mention about 1/3 of a mile of distance). There are pictures of that campsite in this report:

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=2673

It is a great site. The square dance pad is nice for telescopes. But, it ain't 20F cooler than Barstow. It's hotter'n a *BLEEPITY, BLEEP, BLEEP*. :grin: Mid Hills is a little cooler (maybe 5F cooler than Black Canyon) but if it's hot in the lower Mojave, it's still plenty hot in the middle Mojave (under 5k feet). Windy too.

Amboy, CA, is at 2060 feet elevation. During our trip some of us hiked Amboy Crater. In those pictures it's about 102F. Black Canyon, at 4400 feet was in the mid to low 90s at the time, for comparison. It was much windier at 4400 feet than at 2000 feet, too.

If you do ever reserve the Black Canyon campsite, be sure to reserve BOTH HALVES. They reserve the ramada covered camping part and the equestrian corrals part separately. You could end up with a bunch of drunken, bonfire lovin', ho-downin' horsey types as neighbors if you don't take both sites.

The Vegas light dome is an ugly scar on an otherwise very nice sky. Also, if you happen to be there at the time of year that the Zodiacal Light is prominent, kiss at least one Zodiacal constellation off your observing list. It was *that* bright and annoying. Still, I can see us going back there at some point. It was fun, and we left dozens of things on our daytime "see & do" list undone.

Regards,

Jim

#31 EddWen

EddWen

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1097
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2008

Posted 04 July 2013 - 07:27 PM

For aviation purposes, we use an adiabatic lapse rate of 3.5F/1000 feet.

#32 careysub

careysub

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1902
  • Joined: 18 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Posted 05 July 2013 - 01:02 AM

For aviation purposes, we use an adiabatic lapse rate of 3.5F/1000 feet.


That is the humid air lapse rate, the dry air (and it is most definitely dry in the Mojave in summer) the lapse rate is higher.

That being said, a 5.4 F change per 1000 feet is a bigger differential than I actually see out there. 3 F may be closer to what is actually seen. I suspect that surface heating effects account for the difference.

#33 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 22880
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 11 July 2013 - 02:39 PM

In SoCal, low enough to suffice for observing sites, and all relatively dark:
--Amboy Crater
--Afton Campground
--Cottonwood Springs Campground--Joshua Tree
--Desert Center (go north on the 177)
--Chuchupate Ranger Station parking lot--Lockwood Valley (near Mt. Pinos)
--Little Blair Valley
--Tierra del Sol
--Carrizo Plain National Monument

Also good, but above 5000':
--Mt. Pinos
--Mt. Laguna
--Figueroa Peak

All the above have Clear Sky Charts with road maps and lots of links.

#34 the1andonlyfinn

the1andonlyfinn

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: 17 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Rancho Cucamonga, California

Posted 11 July 2013 - 03:32 PM

Another option if you wish to avoid a very long drive is Silverwood Lake off the 15fwy and the 138, right after you get through the Cajon Pass. It is about a 30 minute drive from the 210x15. Particularly the Cedar Springs Dam, which is accessible from a forestry road off the 173 off 138. The dam is used frequently by night fishermen and is only a short walk from a parking area. Minimal lights from an office on the dam, sky very clear, 4000ft elevation, a yellow light pollution zone with a very good view to the South. Nebulosity in Sagittarius obvious, various star clouds obvious, Omega Centauri hazy but obvious when up. Not anywhere near as dark as Pinos or Amboy or Desert Center, but if you want to avoid a 4-6 hour round trip, here you go.

#35 frolinmod

frolinmod

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1832
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 11 July 2013 - 06:21 PM

--Little Blair Valley

Alas, nowhere near as dark as it used to be.

--Tierra del Sol

Not particularly dark, lots of local light encroachment and way too much water vapor in the air most of the time. Local mountain areas (Laguna, etc) are much better.

#36 Gastrol

Gastrol

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1302
  • Joined: 04 Nov 2011
  • Loc: los angeles

Posted 11 July 2013 - 07:27 PM

I love heading up to Mt Pinos during the summer for the cooler temps. I missed last weekend but will definitely be heading up there this Sat.

#37 WesC

WesC

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2063
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: La Crescenta, CA

Posted 12 July 2013 - 06:19 PM

I think I really need to make the trip to Mt. Pinos soon.

#38 Zoomit

Zoomit

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 493
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2006
  • Loc: Tehachapi, CA

Posted 12 July 2013 - 06:36 PM

Here are a few pictures of the parking lot last Saturday afternoon.

Mt. Pinos

I suspect the Mt. Pinos Chula Vista Campground parking lot, on a summer new moon weekend, hosts the largest "ad hoc" star party anywhere. Anyone know of a larger, unsponsored, unplanned gathering?

#39 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20320
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 13 July 2013 - 09:28 AM

I think we ought to do an ad hoc NorCal/SoCal CNer meet-up in early fall at lake San Antonio in inland Monterey County. We could grab the same overflow campground used for Calstar Star Party. It's close enough to either part of the state to be an easy part-day drive, dark enough to be worth it, and perfect for a one or two nighter.

- Jim

#40 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 22880
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 13 July 2013 - 10:16 AM

I think we ought to do an ad hoc NorCal/SoCal CNer meet-up in early fall at lake San Antonio in inland Monterey County. We could grab the same overflow campground used for Calstar Star Party. It's close enough to either part of the state to be an easy part-day drive, dark enough to be worth it, and perfect for a one or two nighter.

- Jim

And the skies are dark there, too.
Just don't overlap the end of October/early November Nightfall star party in Borrego Springs (average attendance 250-500).

#41 careysub

careysub

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1902
  • Joined: 18 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Posted 13 July 2013 - 02:07 PM

In SoCal, low enough to suffice for observing sites, and all relatively dark:
--Amboy Crater
--Afton Campground
--Cottonwood Springs Campground--Joshua Tree
--Desert Center (go north on the 177)
--Chuchupate Ranger Station parking lot--Lockwood Valley (near Mt. Pinos)
--Little Blair Valley
--Tierra del Sol
--Carrizo Plain National Monument

Also good, but above 5000':
--Mt. Pinos
--Mt. Laguna
--Figueroa Peak

All the above have Clear Sky Charts with road maps and lots of links.


I also suggest exploring setting up in the Chambless area, 10-20 miles farther east along the old Route 66 from Amboy, perhaps off of Cadiz Road.

I scouted this area in the daytime, but haven't used it for astronomy yet.

According to the satellite light atlas map we see everywhere, this is deeper into the center of the grey zone.

And of course, if you really want to see the dark, dark summer sky there are the 4000 plus foot elevation regions in the northern Death Valley.

We should be posting GPS coordinates.

#42 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20320
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:09 PM

Alternately we lazy NorCal'ers could, instead, head down to the Anza Borrego event. :grin:

I had no idea that it drew that level of attendance. And the park has great daytime stuff to offer, too. Though if memory seves (and it's been awhile), Anza Borrego is dark, but not super dark. Still, how can you resist a place that has an annual "Pegleg Smith" Tall Tales contest?

- Jim

#43 Gastrol

Gastrol

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1302
  • Joined: 04 Nov 2011
  • Loc: los angeles

Posted 14 July 2013 - 11:57 AM

A week after the big new moon weekend at Mt Pinos I didn't expect many to show up last night (7/13). It was so quiet and peaceful, only about a half-dozen scopes were set up...

Posted Image

#44 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20320
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 14 July 2013 - 12:37 PM

501s or 505s?

- Jim

#45 Gastrol

Gastrol

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1302
  • Joined: 04 Nov 2011
  • Loc: los angeles

Posted 14 July 2013 - 12:40 PM

LOL.....they're not even Levi's. They're some off-brand jeans my wife bought from a street vendor....cheap.

#46 WesC

WesC

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2063
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: La Crescenta, CA

Posted 15 July 2013 - 05:16 PM

How late into the Fall does people go up to Mt. Pinos?

#47 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 22880
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 15 July 2013 - 05:55 PM

I go there if it's clear, and if there isn't a foot of snow on the road, all year long. When it's really cold, there are still usually a few stalwarts who dress warmly enough to handle it.
One March, at 9F, with not a breath of wind stirring, the entirely of SoCal was under 6000' of clouds with pretty much only that peak above the clouds, and the seeing was nearly perfect and the transparency was like Mauna Kea in Hawaii. I saw magnitude 21.89 on the Sky Quality Meter, which is unheard of anywhere in SoCal.
The bigger crowds thin out in October unless there is a heatwave.
New Moon weekend this month, the low was 50F, so nice and comfortable. I've seen 30s in the Summer up there.
It doesn't usually go below 40F until October, and not below 30F until late December or January. Temperatures below 20F are not common unless a cold front has passed through. The coldest I've ever seen up there on a dry-pavement night was -2F. And there was absolutely no wind that night.
You have to dress warm, but if you have something hot to drink (like coffee in a thermos) and nice warm ski wear/boots/parkas, you'll be fine.

When it's windy and cold, though, I prefer Joshua Tree or Desert Center, where it's commonly 30+ degrees warmer. I did see 14F one January night at Joshua Tree, but it was nice because of absolutely still air.

#48 WesC

WesC

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2063
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: La Crescenta, CA

Posted 15 July 2013 - 06:16 PM

You make it sound really nice, Don. I still have a few things I need to get together before I can make the rub up there, but I am definitely going to do it soon. :)






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics