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Escaping the Bay Area marine layer via Mt Hamilton?

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#1 bokemon

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 11:54 PM

Hello folks,

Those of us that live in the SF Bay Area know about how we can have cloudless days, but every night, the fog / clouds from the ocean rolls in and ruins everything.

Has anybody tried "fleeing" to the back side of Mt Hamilton (San Jose) where the Lick Observatory is?

This is for imaging, where you'd expect to be there until dawn.

Yes, I know it takes almost an hour to drive up there...

Perhaps after cresting the hilltop where the observatory is, you can set up by the side of the road on the back side (eastern facing) side of the mountain?

Is there any way to use the accommodations at the observatory after hours, e.g. bathroom?

I'm not sure how good is the light pollution here.  The VIIRS data show pretty dark, but you do overlook large cities to the west, north, and east.

Perhaps stay at the campground at Joseph Grant Park, where you can save half an hour of driving and have access to a bathroom?

There's residences at the observatory, but I suspect they are for "professional" astronomers only.

marine layer.JPG


Edited by bokemon, 13 July 2021 - 11:55 PM.


#2 paul hart

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:15 AM

Hi, I like your idea. I live in New York, but drove to Mt Hamilton twice when I was in the area. That road up there is really something. I got dizzy with all those twists and turns, I do know they don't want any extra light, but I bet you know that. I understand the road needed switchbacks so that horses could make it up the mountain when they built the observatory back in the 1880's. According to their website access is restricted at night and the gates are locked. There won't be any food, water, coffee available Any potty breaks would have to be done in the great outdoors.. In order to minimize light pollution from your setup you don't want any light radiating to affect their observations.  I would also scout out possible setup sites in daylight.


Edited by paul hart, 14 July 2021 - 12:26 AM.

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#3 petert913

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:22 AM

Good  enough for Lick,good enough for me !


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#4 dswtan

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:25 AM

I think if Mt Hamilton was a viable site, it would've been "discovered" by other locals by now. Hard to keep secrets. I trust you've seen the list of local dark(ish) sites at the SJAA:

https://www.sjaa.net...wing-locations/

 

A bit further south, but if you're going to camp anyway, is Fremont Peak, which particularly highlights its ability to get above the marine layer: https://www.fpoa.net/


Edited by dswtan, 14 July 2021 - 12:29 AM.


#5 bokemon

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:28 AM

Hi, I like your idea. I live in New York, but drove to Mt Hamilton twice when I was in the area. That road up there is really something. I got dizzy with all those twists and turns, I do know they don't want any extra light, but I bet you know that. I understand the road needed switchbacks so that horses could make it up the mountain when they built the observatory back in the 1880's. According to their website access is restricted at night and the gates are locked. There won't be any food, water, coffee available Any potty breaks would have to be done in the great outdoors.. In order to minimize light pollution from your setup you don't want any light radiating to affect their observations.  I would also scout out possible setup sites in daylight.

The back side of Mt Hamilton, 130, and Mines Road are a great road for "recreational driving" during the day.


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#6 adosaj

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:45 AM

I go all the way to almost Los Banos. The San Luis Reservoir is a great site, Bortel 5. The Basalt campgrounds have a fairly flat field to setup your rig. 

Anil


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#7 sevenofnine

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 03:09 PM

Or North. Lake Sonoma or Austin Creek through Armstrong Woods State Park. The fog bank rolls into Santa Rosa after midnight lately. Sometimes later so you might get lucky. Lake Sonoma with it's many campgrounds is a favorite site of Sonoma State Universities Astronomy class. Good luck! waytogo.gif



#8 AstroVPK

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 06:11 PM

My favorite site in the area is the Lake San Antonio Overflow Lot campground (https://goo.gl/maps/F2Pm7qc5fMBcmZvB6)

 

Other good sites include the Pinnacles West Visitor's Center parking lot & the Peak's View Parking Lot on the east side of Pinnacles NP. Dinosaur Point is also pretty good.


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#9 dswtan

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:00 PM

BTW, I went up Hamilton (and through to Patterson) last week and there were signs at the bottom and all the way up like this: Closed, No Public Restrooms (despite the green sign, which is presumably pre-COVID).

 

I was reminded too that the nice parking lot at Lick is gated and closed out of hours (4:30pm)

https://www.ucolick....visit/info.html

 

But in better news, the evening public tours start on Aug 1:

https://ucolick.org/...ing_tours.shtml

 

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Edited by dswtan, 22 July 2021 - 11:06 PM.

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#10 AstroVPK

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 11:24 PM

BTW, I went up Hamilton (and through to Patterson) last week and there were signs at the bottom and all the way up like this: Closed, No Public Restrooms (despite the green sign, which is presumably pre-COVID).

I was reminded too that the nice parking lot at Lick is gated and closed out of hours (4:30pm)
https://www.ucolick....visit/info.html

But in better news, the evening public tours start on Aug 1:
https://ucolick.org/...ing_tours.shtml


The evening tours are ageist!!! My son is 'too young' at 5.

#11 ayadai

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 12:04 AM

OK, I left there in 1972, but how about Mount Diablo? A bit further inland, so it should be a bit clearer...



#12 Tom M

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:21 PM

Back in the 70's Mount Diablo was great when the coastal fog would roll into the valley as it would block the lights below. You could observe from the campgrounds or from the summit parking lot. The advantage to the summit parking lot was that it had flush toilets!

 

Little known fact: You can see more of the earth's surface from the summit of Mt. Diablo than anywhere else in the world, other then Mt. Kilimanjaro. This is due to all the surrounding areas being so much lower than the summit.

 

A friend and I also would go up to Mt. Hamilton and observe from one of the parking lots. Ran into a grad student one night who was waiting for time on one of the scopes and was wondering if we had any star charts as he had no idea what to look at while he was waiting. Actually got to use the Crossley for an hour or so.


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#13 OskiBear

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 12:12 AM

there's actually something called Halley Hill, marked as a star gazing spot,  inside Joseph Grant park. Google maps has a 360 view of it. Doesn't look very large, and you might not be able to drive up. Overhead view shows what could be a road or dirt trail (hard to tell). In fact, it's temporarily closed now anyway. But file it away for future reference



#14 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 27 July 2021 - 09:13 AM

Sorry folks, but when Lick Observatory was first scouted for a good site and then finally built, I'm pretty sure it was never designed to be "Amateur Friendly". In fact, it is said just before construction started squaters had to be "blasted or burned out" to keep them away. Why these people would choose the summit of Mt. Hamilton to live in the first place is beyond me. In fact, before construction it was known as "signal hill" because climbers would routinely light signal fires to announce their successful trek to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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