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any stargazers here?

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any stargazers here?

Postby hjldennis » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:26 pm

My other hobby is astronomy, and I am always looking for a camping spot with a dark & open sky. Close to LA, away from major cities with open sky. Car camping.

I typically go to Joshua Tree (Cottonwood Springs), but it is still a little light polluted. Death Valley is great, and some remote locations in Mojave are great, but I am looking for spots in the Sierra, so we can do dayhikes during the day. Horseshoe Meadow should be great (apart from clouds), but a bit too far. Grandview Campground is well known among amature astronomers, but it's even further away.

Any suggestions?
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:51 pm

I cowboy camped in a spot in a campground at Big Meadows (Sequoia National Forest, between SE and KCanyon, near the Jennie Lake trailhead) and saw many of the Perseids laying there at 2 am.

Next time I am able to do some meteor shower watching, setting up camp in one of those loops then walking across the road and up the granite slab is in the cards. Big Baldy is another great wide-open place to kick back on a foam pad and stare at the stars, with a stove nearby for hot chocolate.

I think Cora Lake (in the middle of Ansel Adams) wins the prize for the most stars I've ever seen during a new moon. There was hardly enough black left in the sky to call it night. Absolutely fantastic, no light pollution at all.
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 14, 2016 7:09 pm

I have a whole series of scopes I use. AT's suggestion is a good one. Some of the best stars I've ever seen were just North of Grant's Grove on the road to King's Canyon. Pretty amazing skies there. Tuolumne Meadows is pretty good, too!

There are regular amateur astronomer get-togethers at Glacier Point in Yosemite, Desolated Area in Lassen...and Big Bear Lake, which is a little closer to you!
And don't forget Death Valley "(Telescope Peak!) and the White Mountains.
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby cslaght » Sun Feb 14, 2016 7:09 pm

I'd have to agree with AlmostThere about the Big Meadows sky, for being so close to Fresno and the Valley, it is impressive. I'd think closeness and out of the way car camping, Domeland area should be open and clear. I can't think much of a place inside the Southern Sierra that doesn't allow for great light. Backpacking to Moose last summer, I had some great shots of the milky way, but there was a touch of light pollution from the valley, but that was with an exposed ridge that faces it. This is where this photo was with a 30 second exposure:

ImageDSC_0837 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby psykokid » Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:18 am

I like heading up to Monache Meadows to do some car camping and star gazing with the family from time to time. Technically in Inyo NF, but the only vehicular access is through Sequoia NF north of the Black Rock Ranger Station on a High Clearance 4x4 road.

Another area that is closer to LA is the Red Rock Canyon SP / El Paso Mountains BLM land, out between Bickel Camp and Burro Schmidt's mine. The cool thing is that the sky all above that area is restricted airspace due to being close to China Lake so you don't get any commercial air traffic leaving light trails not created by stars in your long exposure shots..
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby hjldennis » Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:21 am

balzaccom wrote:I have a whole series of scopes I use.

Me too. I have a couple of APOs, C11, Lightbridge16, Solarmax, a small Mak, and array of mounts. I'm not sure if I am more intrigued by the stars or the instruments, lol

Thanks guys for your suggestions. I'll have to check out Big Meadows. Last summer during the Whitney family trip, we were lucky to have a clear moonless night above Guitar Lake, and the Milky Way was just gorgeous. Almost kind of scary feeling being Immersed among the stars..
Last edited by hjldennis on Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby hjldennis » Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:38 am

psykokid wrote:I like heading up to Monache Meadows to do some car camping and star gazing with the family from time to time. Technically in Inyo NF, but the only vehicular access is through Sequoia NF north of the Black Rock Ranger Station on a High Clearance 4x4 road.


Sounds pretty good. How long & rough is that 4x4 road section?

It looks like there is no cheating around getting away from the cities. I think the closest really dark site for me would be Amboy Crater to the east or somewhere near Baker toward Vegas. But the night sky from high Sierra feels much better though..
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Re: any stargazers here?

Postby psykokid » Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:51 am

hjldennis wrote:Sounds pretty good. How long & rough is that 4x4 road section?


I just pulled up my GPS track from our last trip up there and the portion on dirt is about 10 miles and takes around an hour. As far as how tough - I've see subarus and 2wd trucks make it up there before. The trail changes from year to year so it varies. I think high clearance and off road experience is more of an asset on that jeep trail than actual 4wd.. I've got a lifted and locked land rover discovery so from my experience the road is pretty easy, just slow going. ymmv.. The benefit of the length and state of the track keeps a lot of day trippers out and increases the solitude. From my place in Pasadena it takes us 4.5 hours to get to the river campsites at the very north end of the meadow. If you want the GPS track I have for location lmk and I'll be happy to send it along.

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Monache is great, IIRC it's one of the largest sub alpine meadows in the southern sierras. You can also access the PCT on the east side of the meadow if you want to do a little hiking during the day.
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