Mojave National Preserve Fall Star Party, Nov. 11th 2017

This fall’s Mojave National Preserve Star party is on Saturday November 11th, 2017. Make a weekend of it and come out earlier in the day to get some hiking in before the potluck meal Saturday evening. This is a good location for seeing desert tortoises, hares and there’s usually a few cows hanging around as well!

I saw this desert tortoise on the road to the campground in September of this year.
Desert hares are also pretty common around the campsite.
A few cows are still allowed to graze in the preserve.

The Mojave National Preserve is one of the darkest sky locations in Southern California and well worth a visit and we bring a good selection of telescopes to the star party.

Some of the telescopes at the last MNP Star Party. The covered eating/cooking area with benches and tables can be seen in the background.

This star party there will be a third quarter moon but it will not affect our dark skies as it doesn’t rise until 12:44 am. If you plan on attending please RSVP either on the  Event Facebook page or by Email.  The photo above was taken at the Spring 2017 star party. Hope to see you there.

Mojave National Preserve Star Party, Nov. 5th 2016

This fall’s Mojave National Preserve Star party on Saturday November 5th, 2016 at the Black Rock Canyon group campground will also be a party celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Come out early and get some hiking in before the potluck meal Saturday evening. The Mojave National Preserve is one of the darkest sky locations in Southern California and well worth a visit. This star party there will be a first quarter moon early in the evening until 9:45 pm so we get to see both a beautiful moon and then wonderful dark skies. If you plan on attending please RSVP either on the  Event Facebook page or by Email.  The photo above was taken at a prior star party. Hope to see you on Nov. 5th.

Mojave National Preserve Star Party

As the opening post in resurrecting this blog I’d like to announce the Mojave National Preserve Star Party is scheduled for Saturday 26th October. This is a wonderful star party in one of the few truly dark sky locations left in Southern California. The banner photo for this blog was taken at that location. The star party is held in conjunction with the Mojave National Preserve Service Project. In the evening before dark there is a communal pot luck dinner before the star party gets under way. Free camping is provided  for Friday and Saturday night at the Black Canyon Group Site across the road from The Hole in the Wall Campground. It can be windy at this location and it could be hot or cold at this time of year so prepare appropriately.

Desert Tortoise

When you get there keep your eyes open during the day for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise, I’ve seen quite a few in the area over the years. It is unlawful to touch, harm, harass or collect wild desert tortoises so eyes and cameras only – if you alarm the tortoise it may loose water that it needs for survival so keep your distance!

As I type this I am assuming that the current government shutdown will end before October 26th otherwise the star party will have to be postponed or cancelled. Many of my friends and colleagues including Mojave National Preserve Rangers are furloughed while people in Washington posture over an artificially created crisis designed to make themselves look important!

Star Party has been postponed until November 30th – see you then

Jupiter Impact Update

The Old Town Sidewalk Astronomers had some excellent views of Jupiter Saturday night through my 8 in SCT and Jane’s 7 in refractor. The impact site was clearly distinguishable and we watched it rotate across the disk. We finished the evening with a quick look at the other blue planet, Neptune.

I’ve had a number of requests about future times for viewing the impact site. Here are the best transit times from tonight onwards for Pacific Summer Time – remember the site is visible for about 1 1/2 hours either side of these times.

7/28/2009 1:33 AM
7/30/2009 3:11 AM and 11:03 PM
8/1/2009 4:49 AM
8/2/2009 0:40 AM
8/4/2009 2:18 AM and 10:10 PM
8/6/2009 3:56 AM and 11:48 PM

All times calculated using the excellent Astromist application for PDAs available from astromist.com.