Astro 25 - Field Astronomy in the California Mountains: Fall '16

Oct 7-9, 2016

At Giant Sequoia National Monument, CA

Post Trip Photo Page

Astronomical Motivation:
The location for this section of Astro 25 was determined by a special event - the special feature of this semester's Field Astronomy class is a lunar grazing occultation of a 6th magnitude star in the early evening of Saturday night Oct 8. The path of the graze crosses south-central California, angling up across the southern Sierra. We need to be on the precise path track which allows us to see the grazing star disappear and reappear many times behind the dark mountains and valleys on the edge of the cresent moon's dark side. Check it out - what is a lunar graze? The details of the graze are being put together, and posted on the link. Of course, a secondary motivation is to get to a very dark and pristine site far from city lights so we can study the Fall Milky Way skies. In Fall, the constellation of Sagittarrius is best placed in the evening sky, and is home to the center of our Milky Way Galaxy - rich in star formation regions, open star clusters, globular star clusters, and a wide variety of different types of stars in their various stages of evolution.

There is also an occultation of a 10.3 magnitude star on Sunday morning at 5:00 am by the asteroid Quinghai, with the narrow path crossing the Southern Sierra. Odds are small, only 15%, that the path will cross over us, but I might get up for it, depending on my energy level! If so, you're welcome to get up early and watch the festivities. If I record the event, I'll show it to you on video later in the morning as we eat Breakfast

Highlight of our Day Walks
This region of the Southern Sierra is also home to the Giant Sequoias. During the day we'll explore the surrounding vistas and meadows, and tour the Trail of 100 Giants, one of the richest groves of Giant Sequoia, the largest living things in the world, and which only grow in a few select groves in the southern Sierra.







The campground cost was $261, requiring a ~$12 per student camping fee to reimburse the Astronomy Department.

Here are pictures from a previous Cabrillo Field Astronomy course - Astro 28U - at this same location

Campfire permit







Camper's Checklist