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Thread: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

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    Default Trip to Joshua Tree NP



    Ever since I bought my first "real" tele a few months back (Celestron 114mm PowerSeeker, which I now know is not a "real tele," since I just got my 8" Sky-Watcher yesterday! I can't believe the difference!), I've been wanting to escape my super light polluted neighborhood and find a dark sky somewhere to see a nebula, galaxy or something...

    I heard that Joshua Tree National Park has some of the best stargazing in California and actually hosts astronomy gatherings. Sounded like a good bet!

    I packed up my son and our new tent and the PowerSeeker and found a campsite. It was in October and the moon was long gone and the weather was perfect. It was shaping up to be a glorious trek.

    We set up the telescope long before sundown and got the EQ mount pointed in the right direction. Our campsite neighbors asked some polite questions and I invited them to join us after dark and enjoy the beautiful night sky. I think their enthusiasm was feigned...

    Right as we got started on Saturn and Mars, I noticed our friends had started up their campfire. Then the tiki torches went up - all four of them. And then the propane lantern! Are you kidding me?

    We were fighting their glare for the rest of the night. We relocated the telescope a few rocks over, but not far enough. It was a total downer!

    I just don't understand how people can be in such an awesome star-watching location with a perfectly clear night and never look up! And why do they need so much light at the campsite? Are they trying to scare off the coyotes?

    If you are reading this post: can you relate? Have you ever taken a special road trip just for telescoping and met city folk who just had to bring their city light with them?
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    It's happened to me before too. Campers who string up lights, hang lanterns, bring out the TV from the RV and create a semblance of their living room. I try to go to remote campsites with fewer spots, sometimes without any amenities and you have to bring your own water. Then at least you can be assured of some dark skies!
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    Just noticed you're in Oxnard. I'm literally just up the road from you, in Ojai (but used to live just off Victoria and 5th)
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    Quote Originally Posted by moffjarjar View Post
    Ever since I bought my first "real" tele a few months back (Celestron 114mm PowerSeeker, which I now know is not a "real tele," since I just got my 8" Sky-Watcher yesterday! I can't believe the difference!), I've been wanting to escape my super light polluted neighborhood and find a dark sky somewhere to see a nebula, galaxy or something...

    I heard that Joshua Tree National Park has some of the best stargazing in California and actually hosts astronomy gatherings. Sounded like a good bet!

    I packed up my son and our new tent and the PowerSeeker and found a campsite. It was in October and the moon was long gone and the weather was perfect. It was shaping up to be a glorious trek.

    We set up the telescope long before sundown and got the EQ mount pointed in the right direction. Our campsite neighbors asked some polite questions and I invited them to join us after dark and enjoy the beautiful night sky. I think their enthusiasm was feigned...

    Right as we got started on Saturn and Mars, I noticed our friends had started up their campfire. Then the tiki torches went up - all four of them. And then the propane lantern! Are you kidding me?

    We were fighting their glare for the rest of the night. We relocated the telescope a few rocks over, but not far enough. It was a total downer!

    I just don't understand how people can be in such an awesome star-watching location with a perfectly clear night and never look up! And why do they need so much light at the campsite? Are they trying to scare off the coyotes?

    If you are reading this post: can you relate? Have you ever taken a special road trip just for telescoping and met city folk who just had to bring their city light with them?

    Oh, total bummer. I doubt that it was their intent to blind you out but still a bummer. People tend to just get caught up in what they are doing and oftendon't pay attention to people around them. I had a friend that went there with us and insisted on playing his music super loud in the campground. He doesn't get invited anymore...

    I have a cabin in the area and know that area very well. I had thought that it was a really great area for star gazing as I had always assumed that the area of my cabin [Twentynine Palms - just east of Joshua Tree] had fairly dark skies. Well, according to this light map, maybe not so much.
    DarkSiteFinder.com - Light Pollution Map

    Based on the map, I can recommend another area nearby with darker skies that is about 15 or 20 miles further down the road. It's an area called the Old Dale Mining district. If you look at a map of the area and continue down Hwy 62 about 15 miles past Twentynine Palms, you should see a road that branches off to the south east called Gold Crown Road.
    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/34.1...a=!4m2!4m1!3e0
    You can camp out there for free as it is BLM land and the dark sky map shows that it has darker skies than Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. However you need a somewhat off road worthy vehicle and there are zero services. Joshua Tree at least has the outhouses, as gross as they are and trash bins so it's pack in, pack out. Your vehicle doesn't need to be 4WD but you might be making a mistake to try and drive a Prius out there. I have a 2WD Tacoma and a 4WD Jeep. Both have made it without any issues. It could probably be done with a prius or similar car, but I wouldn't recommend it.

    I have been planning on taking a trip back to my cabin and then taking the drive out to Old Dale for an evening of star gazing w/ my telescopes, then pack back out and go sleep at the cabin. The only thing to watch out for out there would be the off-roaders who would have the nice and bright headlights but there are pretty secluded canyons that should offer a nice dark sky. Additionally, you are on the back side of the mountains that the marine base backs up to so you would also be blocking that light as well. The marine base is brighter than the surrounding towns.

    That area is also chock full of old gold mines so it has all kinds of cool exploring for the daytime a well, but you seriously have to watch where you are going because there are many open vertical shafts. It's a really cool area. Anyway, just thought I would offer an alternative since it seems like Joshua Tree is within driving distance for you and you don't seem to mind camping.
    Feel free to PM me if you would like additional information. I have all kinds of maps and info on the area.
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    Hi Moffjarjar. It's a shame that a well planned night to a great dark site turned out to more of a "Luau Party". Well, even with the observing reduced to a minimum, I am sure that you and your son had a great time camping together.
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    I've had something like this happen to me too. One time at Olympic National Park at Hurricane Ridge, I set up along the empty parking lot and far away from the closed visitor's center. The road was non-stop stream of traffic all night from boozers driving up the winding road from Port Angeles with their high beams blazing. Same thing happened to me at Mt. Rainier's Sunrise area. They even circled my set up area and shined flashlights at me. Another dark site, near Mt. St. Helens, a friend and I were all set up when a pickup truck comes and parks. The driver goes out to take night photography but leaves his rear cab light on, the interior lights on and the running lights on. For about 30 minutes we had to put up with this. One night at Death Valley NP, we were camped at Mesquite Springs campground. RV's were running generators with bright lights all around them. People are so inconsiderate and seemingly, afraid of the dark.
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    ..."seemingly afraid of the dark." You got that right, my friend.

    We've lost so much of the sky in our industrialized lives and are so reliant on our night lights that we can't cope with the dark. Too bad! Even on a campout in a spectacular dark-sky place, we just don't consider looking up - because we've never seen much up there before. How sad.

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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    У нас тоже самое. Постоянно кто то светит, фонарем или костром. Приходится отъезжать в дикие места, что бы получить темное небо.
    Чистого неба!

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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    I went to JTNP last year, with my first telescope.
    Set up camp early, looked like a nice day ... than at about 6 pm i see a little cloud far in the eastern horizon ...
    Then the little cloud became a monster storm cloud coming fast at us we packed and drove back home, but the storm caught us before leaving the area. It was the worst dust storm I've seen, middle of nowhere, really dark place and suddenly all you see is white while trying to drive.. then the show began, big, big rain, lightning and no chance to stop to see the show, b/c the highway is full of "flooded when raining" signs
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    Default Re: Trip to Joshua Tree NP

    Quote Originally Posted by KOS View Post
    У нас тоже самое. Постоянно кто то светит, фонарем или костром. Приходится отъезжать в дикие места, что бы получить темное небо.
    Чистого неба!
    Translate to English please? Can't read Russian, sorry..

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