Double-Header of Asteroid Occultations at Carrizo Plain National Monument

June 10-11, 2005

I like places that inspire introspection. Carrizo Plain is special in that way, with almost 200 square miles of big open skies and no people. This weekend, two asteroid occultation paths crossed paths here, on a friday night with a thin evening cresent moon. A perfect opportunity to get away, and also to bring along some of the department's new astrophotography equipment and start climbing some learning curves.

My location at the northeast corner of the national monument was on a hilltop with a panoramic view in three directions. Here, I was comfortably north of the southern edge of the predicted Austria occultation, and comfortably south of the northern edge of the Charybdis occultation. Alas, each event shifted in the wrong direction just enough to give misses for both. Follw the links to the Austria report and Charybdis report.

From my hilltop camp, looking south towards Soda Lake...

...and west.

It was a beautiful sunset

The cresent moon, Saturn left of Castor and Pollux, and Venus in the low twilight

I brought a lot of stuff to set up.

From inside my RAV4, looking out towards the Charybdis event in southern Sagittarius. Corona Australis is right above the scope

A few minutes before the occultation

After taking this shot, I turned around and found 12 inches away...

...this rattlesnake patiently warming up. Ten minutes later he was gone, and while cooking breakfast I nervously kept one eye on the lookout

Driving home, I followed country roads...

...along the San Andreas Fault, up to Parkfield

There has been over 30 cm of creep along the fault since the bridge was built, warping the bridge railing.