Many of you who have enjoyed visiting our telescopes in the city wonder
what it would be like away from the city. Folks who grow up and live in
Los Angeles rarely get to see a true dark sky.
We love to have people join us for dark sky excursions, but our favorite
location in the Colorado Desert south of Joshua Tree could be considered
"inhospitable" by many.
In less than two weeks, on April 10, we'll be having a dark sky event
with the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy. Free camping will be
available at the Black Canyon Group Campground, and the MNPC is planning
to provide drinks and light refreshments.
Mojave National Preserve is a beautiful place with fabulous dark skies.
We'll be bringing our biggest and best telescopes to introduce you to
the galaxy clusters of spring in the early evening, and the Milky Way
towards midnight. You can enjoy great desert walks during the day, and
starry skies through the night.
The event is listed here at the Mojave National Preserve web site:
On the site you'll see a link to Mike Cipra to RSVP if you'd like to
There's also a link to my blog about a previous trip to MNP last year
with a group of herpetologists:
The location is about 200 miles from our home in Monrovia, and is an
easy drive on good roads for the whole distance.
The weather is quite variable, and as always, if it's cloudy or too
windy we won't be able to set up telescopes. The odds are pretty good
to have clear dark skies. Be sure to bring warm clothing for the
evening in several layers. We always travel with hats and gloves even
for mid-spring observing.
Old Town Astronomers: http://www.otastro.org
It looks like we'll have clear skies tonight and tomorrow. We plan to
have telescopes in Old Town Pasadena tonight, and Old Town Monrovia
We'll have three targets: In the early evening the gibbous moon will be
out and Mars will be almost overhead. A little later in the evening
Saturn will be low in the east.
The air is not forecast to be very steady tonight, so we're not likely
to see much detail on Mars as it gets further away. We'll certainly give
it a shot though.
Look for us from about 7:00 'til 9:00 on both evenings. Friday night on
Colorado Blvd. near Delacey, wherever we find parking; Saturday night in
Monrovia at Library Park, on the corner of Lime and Myrtle.
Old Town Astronomers: http://www.otastro.org
My favorite planet is daring you to step outside and look at it this month!
It's easy to see from the city from now through July. In a dark sky, and
through a telescope you'll see subtle cloud bands of custard, butterscotch
and hazelnut crème, and the wafer-thin ring bisects the planet, allowing you
to see its oblateness this month. What a tasty treat for your eyes!
So it should come as no surprise that the topic of my monthly podcast for
March 2010 is Saturn. But I also share the podcast with a challenging
object, the 13th magnitude (nearly as faint as Pluto) asteroid 21 Lutetia,
which is halfway between Saturn on the horizon and Mars (nearly overheard
and the color of a blood orange).
Here are several podcast viewing options:
Many formats, educational activities to compliment the podcast, plus
archives of all 33 podcasts back to April 2007
YouTube, favorite viewing method of my parents :-)
NASA podcast page, easy RSS feed, Itunes
We'll be showing off the lord of the rings April 2-3 in Monrovia and
Monrovia hopefully, after many rained out sidewalk astronomy nights.
For those interested in a getaway, we'll be heading to the desert Saturday
the 13th, weather permitting, undecided where, probably here:
http://www.otastro.org/chuckwalla.html for those who can drive 300 miles
round trip to see a planet. :-) The last 2 miles are a rutted dirt road not
suitable for large trucks and campers, and there are no facilities and it's
not that good for camping, but we love it.
For a little longer drive but a nature bonus, you can also join us April 10
at Mojave National Preserve for a star party hosted by the Mojave National
Preserve Conservancy at Black Canyon Group Campground. In addition to
Saturn, it's spring galaxy season! You will need to RSVP (but there is no
cost or anything) on the announcement page
There are plenty of closer-to-home spots to view Saturn than where we like
to go, beside the sidewalks of Pasadena and Monrovia. Many of the local
astronomy clubs have property or events. Pomona Valley, Riverside, Orange
and Ventura counties, Yucca Valley, and many points S and E plus the Los
Angeles amateur astronomers all hold viewing events each month. Griffith
Observatory would be an excellent spot, with star parties every month too,
usually on the same nights as our sidewalk astronomy. We all love to share
the best moon view on the same nights, and this month Saturn and Mars make
it a bonus!
Here's looking at you, Saturn!
Jane Houston Jones
Senior Outreach Specialist, Cassini Program
JPL - 4800 Oak Grove Drive, MS 230-205
Pasadena, CA 91109 818-393-6435
What's Up For March - Saturn Opposition, asteroid 21 Lutetia!