Jane, and I had a great weekend in the desert along with our fellow
sidewalk astronomer Dave, and will quite possibly have another one this
coming weekend. I'll put it this way: We left the van packed. :)
We took pictures, terrestrial and astronomical, and I wrote about it here:
Our favorite spot is about 150 miles from Monrovia out I-10, so it's
quite a commitment to visit with us. Nevertheless, the invitation is
always open to come out to the desert, bring your own telescope and
binoculars, and mooch views from ours.
Our trips to the desert are mostly our own time to do some observing, so
it's not necessarily a good time to expect lots of entertainment or a
sky show. Even so, it is a social event, and we love the chat, sharing
views, having a little picnic, and helping folks find their way in an
Our favorite spot has no services, and 4-wheel drive can be handy but
not required. We've had some difficulty in the past with heavy vehicles
or RVs on the sandy surface.
We generally don't announce our desert observing trips widely, so it's
up to you to find the Saturday evening closest to the new moon. Hint:
It's usually the weekend before our sidewalk astronomy weekends, which
feature a first-quarter moon. Another hint: This coming Saturday is a
good one, if the weather holds.
If this sounds like it's your cup of tea, drop me a note and I'll send
you more information.
On the other hand, for a more concentrated tour of the real night sky at
a location that includes some services (read: bathrooms), make plans to
join us in the Mojave National Preserve on April 22 and 23.
Meanwhile the Old Town Astronomers web site http://otastro.org
updated with likely sidewalk dates for the rest of 2011, starting with
Pasadena and Monrovia on February 11-12.
Morris Jones, Monrovia, CA