Camping and Astronomy: They Just Go Together
by admin ·
Camping and astronomy are two of my favorite summer pass times. I love to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and surround myself with the wonders of nature. The silence of a clear mornings sunrise is not something we get to experience often enough these days. Daily hiking and mountain biking allow me to stretch my legs in ways my regular schedule does not allow.
Astronomy is also high on my list of ways to spend my time. For those of you with a similar mindset, there is no better way to observe the night sky than from a remote campsite. Far from the overwhelming light pollution of major cities, remote campsites offer some of the best observing opportunities left in the industrialized world. Here, star-filled skies are the norm. The Milky Way stretches overhead from horizon to horizon. The constellations you know and love are lost in the infinite number of stars that seem to fill the sky. As we’re just now coming into the warmer months, I’d urge you to make plans to get yourself out under the darkest skies you can find. Be sure to plan your trip so that the moon is in a smaller and/or later rising phase. I prefer last quarter through just past new. The last quarter moon is 1/2 illuminated (and shrinking nightly) and it doesn’t rise until after midnight. This leaves all the hours from sunset until moonrise as the darkest hours of the night. As I’m typically pretty wiped after a long week of work, these are about the only hours I can be guaranteed to be awake for anyway
Pictured here, you can see the ObDob…. a 25″ Obsession Dobsonian Telescope. This beast loves to get to places like this where it can really perform. This shot was taken a couple of weekends ago at our campsite on Gooseberry Mesa in extreme southern Utah. This is a regular spring/fall location of ours, as temperatures are ideal for all kinds of outdoor events (including deep sky observing). Skies are also quite good (minus the light pollution spewing out of nearby St. George (25 miles away). With your back to the offending portion of the sky, the view of the Milky Way is a wonderous site.