Astro 28U: Field Astronomy at Giant Sequoia National Monument: May 18-20, 2007

Post Trip Photo Page

Our field trip class went off just as hoped - lots of fun and lots of information had by all. Dave McKulle arrived mid afternoon Friday, and the rest of the crew trailed in during the rest of the late afternoon and into the early evening. Our campsite was utterly gorgeous - a 7,000 ft high meadow of green grasses and flowers next to a stand of sparse tall pines where our camp tables and fire ring were.

Friday Night - I arrived in twilight, and hot dogs were already being roasted on the campfire. I got our pasta dinner going and Dave and Kirk put up the telescopes in the meadow. Skies were inky black and the light clouds during the day cleared at night. A thin cresent moon set soon and Kirk was able to get a nice picture of the rising summer Milky Way above the fir trees across the meadow.

Our campsite at Quaking Aspen

Friday night gathering around the 12" to study galaxies

Kirk took this shot with his digital SLR - Sigma SD14, f/2.8 15mm lens at ISO 1600, 30 sec. Great colors, and good depth for just a few seconds.

Crepe heaven


Saturday Morning - My legendary crepes feast, while we get prepped for the day's lectures on planetary science at the locations

Did I tell you how good my crepes were?


"Crepe up!"

Brittany takes over crepes duty while I snap a few pix

Lab assistant Dave McKulle shares a breakfast moment

Smiles all around, after a satisfying hi-carb breakfast.

Our first lecture stop was at Dome Rock, a magnificent glaciated exposed granite dome precipace overlooking the Kern River Canyon. A perfect spot to explain the difference between the different inner planets; heat content vs cooling rates vs. size, and plate tectonics, and leading on to the geologic history of California and the Sierra, finishing up with a description of the different rock types and chemical composition of the local rocks, and how crystal structure grows. Eric's photos should be available soon, and I'll insert them below.

My lecture on the history of the Sierra took place at Dome Rock, overlooking the Kern River Canyon


Next, we headed south to the Trail of 100 Giants - almost the southern-most stand of the now rare Giant Sequoias - largest trees on earth. We made a leisurely walk through the grove, stopping to enjoy each tree and mug for photos. I talked about the fact that this generation is living through one of the earth's great mass extinctions, and how these trees have lived most of their thousands of years when the earth's climate was cooler, and their future is uncertain.

This sequoia grew a convenient throne for the princesses on our trip, and King Rick

This bark shows evidence of many fires, lightening strikes, and a lot of living

Amanda and the gang examine the tree rings of this giant felled by loggers 100 years ago.

The rings are amazingly closely spaced, showing growth is very slow.

Miles thinking...I don't know these people!

Brittany explores the legendary Swiss Army Knife

Patrick, dwarfed by a toppled sequoia's roots

Valerie, protected by two giants


Most of the class, stuffed inside of a sequoia tree, photo'ed from above by Eric peeking in through a crack

Cathy in the tree. This tree was once used 100 odd years ago to pen geese by settlers.

A tutorial on identifying tree bark apparently draws shock and awe from Brittany

The Snow Plant appears as the last snow melts - a bizarre plant which has no chlorophyll. This one gets a caress from Amanda

Peppermint Creek

Peppermint abstract

Peppermint eddy

McKulle defends his tri tip steak

Study session in the meadow




Closing lecture, on the relationship of Astronomy to Art... at an artistically inspiring little waterfall