Monday, January 6, 2014

Telescopes at the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center -- Saturday, January 11, 4:30pm - 7:30pm

If the weather stays clear, I'm scheduled to join a friend at the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center for some "sidewalk astronomy." The featured bodies are the first quarter moon and Jupiter, which is right now at "opposition" (meaning it's as close to earth as it'll get this year).

After everyone's had a good look at our featured objects, we may try hitting a few other targets. Obviously, the Orion Nebula is very well placed for viewing. Maybe the Pleiades star cluster, and maybe a few other showpiece objects. Haven't really sat down and tried to make an observing plan.

No matter what, however, if the seeing's good (no clouds, not too much turbulence), the view of the moon and Jupiter ought to be about as good a view as you'll ever see.

Meanwhile, if you're there at the start, before the sun's gone down, I may try to setting up my solar observing equipment, as well. It partially depends on how good I am at packing stuff in my car on Saturday afternoon!

That picture, by the way, is from a trip to the Mojave Preserve. I'm not sure which telescopes I'll bring to Santa Fe Dam. I'm leaning towards a large refractor, not quite as large as the one on the left in the picture. May bring a second, smaller refractor, too. I'd kind of like to bring my large SCT, but I don't think both would fit in my car at the same time.


  1. Link to the park is here: General info page for Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area.

    The park page does not have an active calendar, but our astronomy event is, in fact, scheduled. Unfortunately, there's a $10 charge to enter the park.

    Obviously, rain or clouds cancel the event.

  2. Clear Sky Chart is looking somewhat marginal for this evening. But I'll be there early, for sure (say, around 3:30pm) for solar viewing. The moon should shine through thin clouds. Jupiter, too. Other stuff are less likely, especially if the high clouds move in as expected, later in the evening.

  3. Hey, that looks like fun! That's something I could come to (I usually don't pay to enter...walk or bike in).
    BTW, what is that bright planet in the SW sky in early evening right now? It greets me on my evening commute while waiting for the bus.

  4. The few times I've been here before, I was also on a bike. Haven't done any serious riding since my road bike was stolen a LONG time ago, however. Stupid criminals.

    By now, Venus has actually passed between us and the sun and is no longer visible in the evening. But for the late summer and all of fall (and a few weeks in winter), it had been the amazingly bright object in the west, then southwest.

    Now, the brightest thing in the sky you'll see (besides the moon) is Jupiter, which now rises in the east-northeast a little before sunset (so you'll see it shortly after sunset). Not quite as bright as Venus, but pretty dramatic, nonetheless.

    Weather-permitting, I probably won't be doing any sidewalk astronomy again until February 8. I usually set up with my friends in the Old Town Sidewalk Astronomers on the corner of Myrtle and Lime, in Old Town Monrovia, on the Saturday nearest the first quarter moon.

    About a month after that, I'll have a Friday night (March 7) event with a private school in Hacienda Heights, then back on the sidewalk in Monrovia on March 8.

    I always have the option of setting up with the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and L.A. Sidewalk Astronomers at Griffith Park, but the and the Old Town Sidewalk Astronomers, being motivated by the same goal, almost always set up on the same date, and I always figure there are plenty of other telescopes at Griffith Park on those days, anyways.

    I get the feeling more parks are trying to schedule telescope nights. We usually do a few nights in the summer at Pamela Park in unincorporated Duarte, and we've also done Encanto Park once or twice. Really, if almost any nearby park asked, I'd drag my telescope out there on some night I'm not working.