Most of you who joined our mailing list became "accidental astronomers"
one evening when you stumbled across our telescopes on the sidewalks of
Monrovia or Pasadena. From the city, we love to show the Moon, Jupiter,
and Saturn. These are the night sky objects that are among the
brightest in the sky, and easily visible from any city sidewalk.
Many of you have expressed an interest in seeing more and learning your
way around the night sky. Maybe it was one of our stories of a night in
the desert with our big telescopes, viewing comets, nebulae, galaxies,
and star clusters. <http://www.otastro.org/2006-04-01-messier/> Maybe
you have a telescope of your own, but frequently find yourself lost in a
sky full of possibility, wondering where to go next.
Jane and I would love to be your host and tour guide for a night in the
Joshua Tree desert. We're planning an excursion to Joshua Tree National
Park on Saturday, April 29, and we'll be completely at your disposal for
a mini dark-sky star party. You can bring your own telescope if you
like, borrow one of ours, or just mooch views. There should be charts
and telescopes a-plenty for you to share.
It's a lovely time of year to wander through the massive galaxy fields
of the Spring sky. You can make a full evening of it, take a short nap,
and wake to wander through the Summer Milky Way in all its glory.
Frequently the most spectacular view is just a sky full of stars at a
place away from city lights. With warm clothes and a comfortable chair,
you can identify constellations, count meteors, and see orbiting
satellites pass overhead. With a pair of binoculars you can see star
clusters and cruise the Milky Way star clouds.
If you want help with your own telescope, we'll be available for the
hour before sunset to help out.
April 29 is the night of the Andromeda Society's monthly public star
party in Joshua Tree park, but what we're planning is not part of that
star party. We'd like to set up a little bit away from their group, but
haven't fully settled on where just yet. Our goal is simply to share
the night sky with those of you who have a burning curiosity about it,
and might have wanted a guide. We may caravan from a meeting spot, and
make our own star party.
The nearby towns of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley have inexpensive hotel
rooms, and there is certainly camping to be found in the park. Jane and
I usually just nap in our van for a few hours.
If this sounds intriguing, put it on your calendar and let me know.
We'll do more planning as the day gets closer, and keep an eye out on
Old Town Astronomers http://www.otastro.org