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Observing Sites / Pinnacles
« Last post by John Pierce on Today at 02:55:13 PM »
dunno why this wasn't listed before!

Pinnacles is a National Park.    visitors, including astronomers, must pay day use fees (unless you have a national park pass).   West side entrance has an automatic gate that closes to incoming traffic at 8pm, but allows leaving at any time.   setup areas on west side include the parking lot near the Visitors Center, as well as the trailhead at the end of the road.

GPS Coordinates of Visitor Center Parking:  36.478425,-121.2276078    access is from Soledad on highway 101, take state route 146 to the park.

East Side has steep ridges on both sides of entrance, there is, however, a campground (privately operated park concession), which requires reservations.  Campground itself is rather sandy, but there's a few places to setup telescopes in the parking lots farther up.
Observing Intents / Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« Last post by John Pierce on Today at 02:20:18 PM »
SCAC is planning on going to Pinnacles West on July 22 for a star party...   As usual, anyone else who wants to show up is welcome.   I believe the entrance gate auto-locks at 8pm, so be sure to arrive well before that... the gate will allow exiting at any time.    I'm not quite sure where we're going to setup, probably in the main parking lot near the Visitors Center.
Observing Reports / Re: Observing from the South Coast Ridge trail - 6/24
« Last post by DDK on Yesterday at 08:35:53 PM »
Jeff Blanchard discovered Prewitt Ridge for observing, over 18 years ago. He's an old surfer and swore anyone he showed the place to secrecy. I've been there twice, once with just Jeff and me, once with Jeff, Jon Ruyle, Albert Highe and James Turley. It's pretty much the hell and gone into the Santa Lucias, in terms of the road - hafta to be in coastal California for the Ridge to be filled up!

Pierce is right about the road, it's yes 8 miles from the pavement, narrow basic dirt with cliff on one side and precipice on the other, and often a shitty road surface. Bring your own water, dig a hole. Not a place I'd send city boys. And I absolutely would not go there without a buddy (can you tell I was a longtime Scout leader?). Twist an ankle when no one else is up there and be found much later.

That said, Steve's got it about the skies. Spring and fall are best to miss the winds there.
TAC Visual / Re: Advice needed for Pinnacles East
« Last post by DDK on Yesterday at 08:20:45 PM »
Where Jeff went is way past the campground. Bear Gulch is at the parking lot for one of the main trailheads, at the end of the road.
Glad you had a fun night, Jeff!
Observing Reports / Re: Observing from the South Coast Ridge trail - 6/24
« Last post by John Pierce on Yesterday at 02:51:35 PM »
minor nit.... 'single track' refers to hiking/motorcycle trails, too narrow for a car/truck/jeep..    south coast ridge and prewitt ridge road are 'double track' roads, one lane with pullouts for passing.

the condition of these roads varies wildly with the season and weather...   at times they can be serious 4x4 only, at other times, you could take a subcompact car over them.   they are considered completely impassable when wet (even if the weather has cleared, the roads can stay muddy for weeks)
Observing Reports / Observing from the South Coast Ridge trail - 6/24
« Last post by Stephen Winston on Yesterday at 01:53:16 PM »
Just a quick report on a new (to me) observing location I ended up at this Saturday night in the Ventana wilderness. 

I had originally planned to head to Chew’s Ridge, but as most of Los Padres is closed off due to extreme fire risk I switched to the Prewitt Ridge area instead.  I had never been in this area before but had read several previous observing reports from this location so wanted to give it a try. 

With Hwy1 being inaccessible, the only way to get there is via Nacimiento-Ferguson road from the East.  Drive to Jolon as if you we’re heading for Lake San Antonio, turn right into Fort Hunter Liggett and then turn left across the bridge onto Nacimiento-Ferguson road.  The road is twisty but paved all the way up to the ridge.  When you reach the top, the South Coat Ridge trail is off to the left.  It’s mostly single track graded dirt, with many wider places to pass other vehicles.  A bit bumpy but nothing too crazy.  It’s about 7 miles in to the Prewitt Ridge area.  Prewitt Ridge has some spectacular sites to set up, including one large area that could easily accommodate 10+ people, but unfortunately everything was already taken.  Instead I headed a couple more miles further down the South Coast trail and luckily came across a large open are just off the trail to the left.  There’s easily enough space for 4 of 5 vehicles to set-up, with pretty much unobstructed 360 degree views.   Obviously the unobstructed views means there are no trees providing shade, and of course there are no other facilities (water, lavatory etc).  GPS coordinates for the exact location I ended up at are: 35.945563, -121.404892

Conditions Saturday we’re pretty good – 4/5 for both transparency and seeing, and it was shorts temperature throughout the night.  With clear views out to the Pacific and an elevation of 3100ft, this site has the potential for some great seeing.  It’s also dark! SQM reading close to midnight was 21.99 straight up (repeated over 3 readings), so not bad :).  I had gotten 21.22 at LSA the previous weekend and as a reference, the darkest I had ever gotten with this reader was 22.13 at Grandview in the White Mountains the previous summer.  The location isn’t completely light free – you can see clear across to the East into the Lockwood valley and there are some lights there, with a low overall light dome – could have been Fort Hunter Liggett but not really sure.  However, South, West and North are dark, dark, dark.

From an observations point of view, nothing too exciting or exotic.  I mostly just revisited a long list of my Summer favorites. I had nice views of Omega Centauri early in the night, although transparency close to the horizon wasn’t the best.  I had a couple of incredible moments on Jupiter and Saturn when the seeing steadied for brief moments.

On Sunday morning I took Nacimiento-Ferguson the rest of the way down to Hwy 1.  Started off in bright sunshine and then descended through the fog to the coast.  There was a lot of activity at the Kirk Creek campground – definitely a cold spot to spend the night.  Due to the landslide and the bridge being out, you can only drive 3 miles North or 8 miles south before the road is closed.  Made for a very quiet drive – no other cars along the road.

For a location about 3 hours total from San Jose, it’s pretty darn dark.  It’s about 30 minutes further than LSA and with the added elevation, darkness and potential for superb seeing, it will be somewhere I go back to.

Some images from the trip can be seen here:

All the best,

TAC Visual / Re: Advice needed for Pinnacles East
« Last post by John Pierce on Yesterday at 05:01:02 AM »
its been quite a long time since I've been  to the Pinnacles East campground, but I'm remembering the bulk of the camping area is deep river sand, and it gets really dusty if its windy.
TAC Visual / Re: Advice needed for Pinnacles East
« Last post by jeffweiss9 on June 26, 2017, 07:39:05 PM »
To follow up, the forecasts were very off for Saturday night.  The sky was clear and very dark with little or no wind at Bears Gulch parking area up the road from the East Entrance about 5 miles.  No campers but a couple of cars with headlights came through; not too much harm (for me anyway).  There were 3 of us astrophotographers plus a fourth who wondered in for a Milky Way landscape.  Great site!
Observing Reports / Re: What the heck was that?
« Last post by DDK on June 25, 2017, 12:58:21 AM »
If only they'd moved, Mark. The staying-put part is the real head scratcher.
Observing Reports / What the heck was that?
« Last post by mccarthymark on June 24, 2017, 09:02:40 AM »
At the risk of bringing ridicule and shame upon my head, I want to relate an observation I made last night while at Fremont Peak, because I can't figure out what it was.

I was using my 20-inch, around 2:30am, with Cygnus at zenith.  I was poking around the Cygnus Cloud observing a variety of objects, when I come to STF 2609.  Instead of the fairly close pairing I expected, I see two streaks of light, each maybe 10" long, each with bright small disks on the ends.  They looked like staples.  They were parallel to each other and N-S, one was a little dimmer and shorter than the other, and each had a dimming along the major axis between the points at the end.

I thought it was some kind of optical defect, but the streaks remained at all powers I tried (205x, 333x, 533x, 667x).  Other stars were points of light, even those of similar magnitudes.  I took a few minutes break and came back to it: the same.  Seeing was very good; just a few minutes before I made a clean split at 333x of B1289, which has a 0.7" separation.  Transparency was average; SQML was 21.2

STF 2609 is 6.69/7.64, 1.9", PA 21°.  I would say the streaks were of similar brightness, separation, and in the correct PA.  But why in the world would they be stretched out so?
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