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Trip to Lake Tahoe...

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#1 sjc327

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 09:33 AM

Hello Fellow CN Members,

 

I live on the east coast but plan on taking a trip to the west coast in early July. I’ll be staying in South Lake Tahoe with my family for about a week.

 

During that time we will be hiking during the day and I intend to stargaze at night, so I will be bringing a compact binocular that can serve both purposes (10x42).

 

Does anyone have experience viewing in that area that can recommend a good “safe” place to go?

 

I looked on the light pollution map and it seems that if I drive South West (on Rt 50) or South East (on Rt 50 then Rt 89) I will hit a Blue zone.

 

I was just wondering if anyone is familiar with that area, how dark the sky really is and where best to view?

 

Thanks!
Steve



#2 Knasal

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:49 AM

If others can't help you immediately in this forum, you may wish to contact Mr. John Lightholder of John Lightholder Optics. He's an avid amateur astronomer, a great mirror maker, and he lives in the area. Very nice guy - we remain in email contact to this day after he completed a mirror for me last year.

 

I don't think he'd mind your inquiry at all.

 

Hope this helps - enjoy your time out West, regardless!

 

-Kevin



#3 sjc327

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 12:48 PM

Thanks Kevin...I appreciate the info. I'll send him an email.

 

Steve



#4 Keith Rivich

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 01:21 PM

Been there done that! 

 

On Mount Rose there are several ski resorts near the summit that have nice big parking lots. They are pretty dark after they close for the day.



#5 Knasal

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 01:55 PM

Let us know what you find out and how that vacation goes!

 

-Kevin



#6 Rick Woods

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 04:46 PM

Be sure to go around to the North Shore and check it out!



#7 CharlesW

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 11:18 AM

The Montbleu casino has the best $12 steak you'll ever have. I went there twice for dinner when my wife and I were visiting. 



#8 sjc327

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 12:16 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone.

 

I did contact John Lightholder and he was happy to assist and provide me with some viewing locations.

 

I'll let you know how it works out.



#9 Rich V.

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 09:28 PM

Hi, Steve, I'm a long time Tahoe area resident.  From South Shore, Hope Valley to the south is the closest place that gets you away from the LP into a blue zone.  Hope Valley is a scenic valley at around 7000' and is an easy and scenic 45 minute drive from South Lake Tahoe.  The skies are quite good there.

 

The Blue Lakes road off of Highway 88 gets you right out in the middle of the valley and off the main road.  There are a number of dirt roads going a short distance from the road to National Forest areas that are open to camping and other recreational acitvities.  I marked another spot that gets you into the open on the other side of the highway just a bit before you get to Blue Lakes Rd as well.  Take a bit of time to explore the short, dirt side roads.

 

It's worth exploring the whole area.  Beautiful hiking into the wilderness from the parking lot at the top of 88 at Carson Pass to Winnemucca Lake.  The wildflowers are spectacular!  Lake Tahoe is very busy in July and the Hope Valley and Carson Pass areas are less crowded.

 

http://www.carsonpas...ies/hiking.html

 

Here's Google Maps instructions to Hope Valley from SLT:

 

https://www.google.c...d38.7473334!3e0

 

Enjoy your visit to Lake Tahoe,

 

Rich



#10 sjc327

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Posted 21 February 2016 - 06:29 PM

Thanks Rich!

 

Yes I was told about Hope Valley and I intend to check it out.

 

If I have enough time I would also like to check out a place called Monitor pass which is a bit further on Hwy 89 and in a light gray zone.

 

Thanks for map link and the hiking link as I intend to hike by day and star gaze by night...

 

BTW...the hike to Thunder Mountain from Hwy 88 looks like a good one. Do you know about how long it would take each way?

 

Steve



#11 Rich V.

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Posted 21 February 2016 - 07:49 PM

Steve, Monitor Pass is a bit better than Hope Valley as the skies are even more open and darker.  It's a great spot.  I've  observed from there for many years. There are beautiful, very large aspen groves all around the area, too.

 

If you drive up hiway 89 from Markleeville, as you reach the high plateau before the Monitor Pass summit marker, you'll see a small pond on the left side (N) of the highway.  By July it may be pretty much dried up.  There's a dirt road that goes around the pond and there's plenty of relatively flat areas for scope setup.  You've got a huge, broad area of sky from there with great views of the MW right down to the southern horizon.  Decent dry campsites along the trees NW of the pond.

 

I've put a waypoint on the map for this spot for you...

 

https://www.google.c...6754627!1m0!3e0

 

The fire lookout tower atop Leviathan Peak nearby to the east offers some excellent panoramic views of the Sierras.

 

I haven't hiked the Thunder Mountain trail but I'd allow 2 hrs for the uphill side due to the altitude.  The views of the Silver Lake area should be great!

 

Rich

 

 

 

 



#12 sjc327

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 07:44 PM

BTW...back from my Lake Tahoe trip a few weeks ago and man what a difference from this light polluted east coast I live in.

 

First of all, are there ever any clouds around? Save for one brief moment during one afternoon there was not a cloud in the sky the entire week...day or night! Not to mention dark blue zone skies. I made it to Monitor Pass a couple times (1 hr from my hotel) and Hope Valley once (1/2 hr drive). Monitor Pass was just like you described it...beautiful dark sky with very visible MW right down to the Southern horizon. I mounted my 10x42 and was amazed at what I saw with just 10x. In the area of M6/M7/M8 it was just breathtaking. I just panned around and came across Globs, Open Clusters, Nebula, the Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24) etc...

 

I can only imagine if I had brought my 16x70 or my 4" refractor. For all of you that live in or close to dark skies this is old hat but for me I was like a kid in a candy store. 

 

Back east now I'm spoiled from those skies and finding it hard to cope. I just have to figure out how far I have to drive from here to get to something decent!



#13 JMW

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:40 PM

Glad you had a good trip and clear skies. June-October are the most reliable months for observing. I went from November to May this year without observing on any new moon because of clouds. Fortunately the clouds brought much needed rain. I think Grover Hot Springs is another place not that far from South Shore. Has great natural hot springs feed hot and cool pool and a large open meadow area for some great dark sky observing.


Edited by JMW, 29 July 2016 - 04:41 PM.



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