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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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AlaskaIsCold
member


Reged: 11/16/11

Loc: San Diego, CA
So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion?
      #5620160 - 01/13/13 03:25 AM

SO im going to be doing some astrophotography later on in the year, around march in a state that I'm not generally used to, Southern California. I was wondering if anybody here could chime in on their opinion of the dark sky sites that I'm looking at. Since what I need most of all is a very low horizon from the south to the west as well as a lack of a light dome in the south and to the west. from where the locations are I think that LA is in the way but I still want to try.

I'm going to be doing film work as well as DSLR work. SO I'm just curious what everyone's opinions is.

Highway 10 East, Exit 201: http://goo.gl/maps/cL9zF
Intersection of 62 and 177: http://goo.gl/maps/UuQoO
Amboy Crater Parking Lot: http://goo.gl/maps/AmY7r


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5620467 - 01/13/13 10:35 AM

We have many California members, so hopefully they will be familiar with the sites, and offer their opinions.

I'm moving this post to General Observing, in order to get more assistance for you.


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bedowinn
member


Reged: 07/17/09

Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5621404 - 01/13/13 06:36 PM

I cannot comment on your selections not having tried them.
I can suggest Mt Pinos off the 5 fwy near the Grapevine Frazier park. It is lined with trees which may obstruct your view S to W.


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5621426 - 01/13/13 06:45 PM

Amboy Crater is the only one of those three that are truly dark. 10 gets loads of traffic and 29 Palms/Joshua Tree is borderline blue/gray on the dark sky overlay map. There's no camping at Amboy, though, and it's far away from *anything* else.

You could camp in the Mojave National Preserve (north of 40, in the same general region as Amboy. If you can snag the Black Mountain Group Campground, you can get deep south, decent west, *BLEEP* north (Vegas) and a nice slab to set up on.

Here's a trip report:

http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=2673

It's not as dark as Amboy, but at least you can actually camp there.

Regards,

Jim


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5621704 - 01/13/13 09:17 PM

How about Baja California?

I live in San Diego. This is where I would go were I flying in from Alaska in March:

Baja Dark Skies Inn

The desert is likely to be cold (of course not by Alaska Standards), likely to be windy and March is the one of the rainiest months in Southern California. The storm track tends to peter out the further south you go, San Diego is drier than LA which is drier than further north.

Jon


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psandelle
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5621854 - 01/13/13 10:37 PM

Jon - I had not seen Baja Dark Skies Inn before - it is perfect for me, so thanks for mentioning it.

As for Frazier Park - it ain't black skies, but it's good Milky Way, and it's only 90 minutes out of LA (70 for me and my lead foot) and there are a lot of sites, other than the main Mt. Pinos site (like near the Ranger Station, etc.).

Paul


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AlaskaIsCold
member


Reged: 11/16/11

Loc: San Diego, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: psandelle]
      #5622061 - 01/14/13 02:19 AM

I have no idea how those places are though. rather Frazier park, Because my friend is the one driving around there is the limitation that it has to be paved, it has to be a max of four hours from Los Angeles and there cant be issues with snow. if I had a choice I would pick frazier park but isnt it still snowed in in march?

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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5622172 - 01/14/13 06:34 AM

Quote:

I have no idea how those places are though. rather Frazier park, Because my friend is the one driving around there is the limitation that it has to be paved, it has to be a max of four hours from Los Angeles and there cant be issues with snow. if I had a choice I would pick frazier park but isnt it still snowed in in march?




Frazier Park itself is at about 5000 feet. I would think it would not be snowed in permanently. Snow in southern California tends to melt except at the highest elevations.

Jon


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CharlesW
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5622409 - 01/14/13 10:17 AM

Amboy is great but extremely isolated. I would take a look at the "Clark's Pass" area on the Clear Sky chart. It's east of 29 Palms, in a gray area. Also, Desert Center, a gray area.

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acochran
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/19/08

Loc: So. CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: AlaskaIsCold]
      #5622624 - 01/14/13 12:52 PM

The southern part of Joshua Tree National Park - Cottonwood campground, is in a blue area on the Clear Sky Chart and about 2 hours from Los Angeles. East of there on the Clear Sky Chart is a black zone.
Anza Borrego desert is dark.
Big Bear and Arrowhead Lakes are resort areas, but pretty dark skies, plus they are high. The RTMC Astronomy Expo happens there in the Summer at the Boy Scout camp.
I understand Palomar Observatory is very nice, and generally east of San Diego can get quite dark.
Good Luck


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iceblaze
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/15/11

Loc: 33.9° N, 118.4° W Lawndale, ...
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626958 - 01/16/13 08:31 PM

Quote:


Frazier Park itself is at about 5000 feet.




Ah yes.. But Mt. Pinos itself (and the Nordic base parking lot where all the astronomers usually end up) is at 8800 ft and has several snow gates on the way up the mountain. I hiked Mt. Pinos last year in winter (not near the bone chilling cold it has been this year) and it was so windy and cold (and snow on the ground) that my nose and lips were chapped for days. I wouldn't recommend anyone going there to stargaze in the middle of winter. Better to wait until April or so to visit that place safely.

-James


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: iceblaze]
      #5626974 - 01/16/13 08:37 PM

Quote:

Quote:


Frazier Park itself is at about 5000 feet.




Ah yes.. But Mt. Pinos itself (and the Nordic base parking lot where all the astronomers usually end up) is at 8800 ft and has several snow gates on the way up the mountain. I hiked Mt. Pinos last year in winter (not near the bone chilling cold it has been this year) and it was so windy and cold (and snow on the ground) that my nose and lips were chapped for days. I wouldn't recommend anyone going there to stargaze in the middle of winter. Better to wait until April or so to visit that place safely.

-James




Christopher is from Alaska... At 8800 feet, does the snow melt or is a snow cap until summer?

Jon


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MikeRatcliff
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/12/04

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5627173 - 01/16/13 10:39 PM

In the desert areas I frequent (Joshua Tree National Park, Landers, and Johnson Valley) the west has a significant light dome from the LA metro area.

One thought might be some of the campgrounds along Highway 101 west of Santa Barbara. You would get ocean to the south and southwest.

Mike


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Mike E.
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5627493 - 01/17/13 06:31 AM

About 4 hours north west of Los angeles is San Antonio Lake. The north shore campground is mostly deserted until May. There'a little store/gas station by the turnoff that has food and camping supplies. Just to the west of the lake is an area called Bryson, probably the darkest skies you will find in California, however, its mostly private land.

About an hour north of San Luis Obispo along Highway 1, is Kirk Creek Campground on the coast; roughly 5 hours from LA. From there you can take the well paved Naciniento-Fergusson road up to about the 2000ft level, within a couple of miles. There are turnouts to park with clear unobstructed views of ocean horizon. There are no houses along the road, and it is usually blocked off about 20 miles inland by the military base, so you should not experience any traffic while observing.

Hope this info is of use to you.


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Mike E.]
      #5630943 - 01/19/13 01:14 AM

SoCal.
Good dark sites (I've tried them all):
--Mt. Laguna (near San Diego) Decent Blue zone site
--Amboy Crater. Decent Blue to Gray zone site.
--Desert Center (slightly north of on the 177), about 35 miles from Blythe, north of the 10 Blue to Gray zone site
--Cottonwood Springs Campground, Joshua Tree, or Smoke Tree Wash north of the campground: good blue zone site
--Mt. Pinos at the Chula Vista parking lot (8350'): best site close to LA. Varies from Green zone to Blue zone during the year and sometimes the night. If it's not snowed in (and it rarely is for more than a month), it's a decent site all winter. You have to be ready to sit outside at 5-10 degrees during the coldest times, but most of the winter the cold temps are in the high teens or low 20s--about the same as the desert. Not too bad if you have the clothes. I've been there nearly every month (for 35 years) it's clear and I've even shoveled snow away to put the scope down.

There are many sites that are OK in a pinch, but are brighter, so not as desirable(mostly geen zones):
--Borrego Springs in Anza-Borrego
--Anza site of the OCA
--Little Blair Valley near San Diego
--Tierra del Sol site of SDAA
--Landers site (GMARS) of the RAS
--Lockwood Valley near Mt. Pinos (home of LAAS)
--Chuckawalla mtns near Desert Center but south of the 10
--Julian
--Mt. Palomar
Most of these are closer to cities, so more popular for easy access, but they are always brighter than the sites first listed.

The darkest I've seen in SoCal (on the SQM scale) is 21.89 at Mt. Pinos during a winter month in which the entirety of SoCal was under 6000' of clouds. And 21.85 at Desert Center when the entire city of LA was covered with clouds all the way to Palm Springs. Normal at those sites is 21.4 and 21.6 respectively.

Mike's site is quite dark, but it'd be considered central California rather than Southern. And if we're going there, there's Grandview Campground on White Mountain (Gray Zone), and the Scotty's Castle area of Death Valley (Gray Zone) as well as his Lake San Antonio on the west side of the state (Gray Zone). And I'd have to add the inland site of the CCAS as well (blue zone).
--


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5631087 - 01/19/13 06:21 AM

Quote:


The darkest I've seen in SoCal (on the SQM scale) is 21.89 at Mt. Pinos during a winter month in which the entirety of SoCal was under 6000' of clouds.




Indeed... Our place is on the desert slope of the Lagunas, a few miles from Anza-Borrego, it's a blue zone. Normally there are substantial light domes from Mexicali-El Centro and from San Diego but if the clouds seal them off, it's dark, dark.

In terms of Southern California Dark Skies, one doesn't have to travel far in the Mexico to reach black zones.

Jon


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mikewirths
Vendor-Baja Dark Skies
*****

Reged: 06/16/08

Loc: San Pedro Martir Mexico
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5633796 - 01/20/13 07:06 PM Attachment (14 downloads)

Jon and all,

The black zones in Baja California are very extensive, I'm sure there are dozens of potential great observing spots to be found especially in the Sierra La Gigante south of the small village of Loreto in Baja Sur. The black zones between the light polluted areas of La Paz/Cabo San Lucas and Cuidad Constitucion might offer reasonably low latitude (24-25 degrees N) observing sites for better views of Omega Centuri and Centaurus A. I've never been south of the Catavina desert but one day I'd like to take my 18" and my small pop up camper to explore these areas!


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: mikewirths]
      #5634596 - 01/21/13 09:48 AM

Quote:

Jon and all,

The black zones in Baja California are very extensive, I'm sure there are dozens of potential great observing spots to be found especially in the Sierra La Gigante south of the small village of Loreto in Baja Sur. The black zones between the light polluted areas of La Paz/Cabo San Lucas and Cuidad Constitucion might offer reasonably low latitude (24-25 degrees N) observing sites for better views of Omega Centuri and Centaurus A. I've never been south of the Catavina desert but one day I'd like to take my 18" and my small pop up camper to explore these areas!




Mike:

That is a most intriguing map.

So, when are we going? I have Nissan Frontier with a campershell..

My best friend lives in Totos Santos which on the Pacific Coast between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas....

Jon


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psandelle
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5634708 - 01/21/13 10:58 AM

Jon - because of you guys, I'm gonna go to that Baja Astro Inn place this summer. The Baja seems the place to be! Now I just have to rent a four-wheel drive....

Paul


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mikewirths
Vendor-Baja Dark Skies
*****

Reged: 06/16/08

Loc: San Pedro Martir Mexico
Re: So. California Dark Sky Sites, Share your opinion? new [Re: psandelle]
      #5639073 - 01/23/13 03:13 PM

Paul: look forward to meeting you!!

Jon: sure I'd be up for an exploratory trip to scout observing spots! My Wifes uncle is Harry Crosby the authority on Bajas cave paintings (maybe you've seen his books..) I am going to shoot him an e-mail to get his take on where he thinks some good areas might be to explore.

cheers

Mike


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