This will be a return visit to our Fall '04 and Spring '05 Astro 28 field trip location, to the mountains and beaches of southern Big Sur. We'll explore the history, geology, and of course plenty of astronomy. The galaxies of the Spring sky are rising, and the star formation regions of Orion spiral arm are still well placed after twilight, so we'll have plenty to study in theory and at the scopes. And the wildflowers are predicted to be the best in years.
We'll also explore the principles that determine the structure and evolution of the planets. California and Big Sur is perhaps the best and most unique landscape to illustrate many of these principles. Read more about.... The Geologic Principles of the Inner Planets, Geologic Setting of Southern Big Sur.
Our campsite is Ponderosa campground, site of our Astro 28L '04 and Astro 28N courses. Ponderosa Campground is at 2,000 ft elevation, over the ridge along Naciemento-Ferguson Rd. It has shade trees of pine and oak, is in a beautiful canyon of sycamore, oak, maple, and has beautiful spring wildflowers this time of year. The Nacimiento river canyon was not affected by last year's fires. The headwaters of the Nacimiento River run through the camp, as does another creek which has some delightful rocks and waterfalls to enjoy and learn about metamorphic rocks. The campground should have few people and be quiet.
During Saturday, we'll caravan over the pass down to Kirk Creek and study the metamorphic rocks and geologic history of California. Nearby is Jade Beach, a favorite hunting ground for this rare and beautiful stone. I plan to give a lecture on the geology of the inner planets, and the geology of Big Sur from the pass on Naciemiento Road near camp, with a dramatic overlook of the coast far below. We'll follow this with enjoying the afternoon on the beaches and other coastal explorations.
After we officially wrap up on Sunday, you can consider your own explorations - there are elephant seal colonies at Pt. Piedras Blancas, the southern-most extent of redwood trees at Redwood Gulch, and the high country reachable from the access road at Cape San Martin. There's also the beautiful beaches near here like Sand Dollar beach, the beach below Kirk Creek, and on the inland side there's one of the nicest and least visited of the California missions - Mission San Antonio which is near the Fort Hunter-Liggett's center and a short drive from Ponderosa Campground.
The Rules of the Game
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