Stargazing at the Eastern Sierra Observatory
When you visit the Eastern Sierra Observatory for a night of stargazing, here is what to expect…
Your exact arrival time will vary with the time of the year, but in general you’ll check in between 3 and 4 pm (we’ll be in contact the day before you arrive). You’ll meet us at the Poleta OHV parking lot on Redding Canyon Rd (map below) just east of Bishop. If your vehicle has 4 wheel drive and you enjoy a little off-road driving, then we’ll escort you the rest of the way up the mountain (another 10 minutes at slow speed). If your vehicle doesn’t have 4WD or you just don’t want to drive it all the way up, then we’ll shuttle you and your belongings from there.
Upon arrival at the ESO, you’ll be given a quick tour of the grounds and shown to your SHIFTPOD. After you get settled in, you’ll be free to roam the area and check out the sights. We’ll go over the observation plan for the night, as well as any imaging preparations. You’ll bring your own dinner to eat, and if needed you can prepare it using our camp-kitcken which includes tables, a propane grill, stove top burner, drinking water, and sanitary wipes for your use. You may bring some beer or wine to enjoy if you’d like, just please keep it mellow.
After or during dinner, you’ll likely want to take a moment to gaze at what is almost always one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see.
As twilight sets in, we’ll get started with the telescope — a 14” Meade LX850 with StarLock auto-guiding! Since the group sizes will always be small, we’ll all have plenty of time to bask in everything we observe. Take your time… let your eyes adjust… and let it sink in what you’re looking at… don’t worry, the person behind you will have plenty of time to do the same, and so on. In addition to viewing objects through the ‘scope, we can also do some short experiments such as determining the composition and temperature of stars, as well as capture images of galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae using your own or our DSLR camera. You’ll also have the option of stargazing from the hot tub, or relaxing in lawn chairs with binoculars — the night is yours! We’ll keep on going until everyone has had enough, at which case you can head back to your SHIFTPOD to retire on a comfy memory foam cot.
The next morning, donuts, fruit, and coffee will be available. There will also always be drinking water available during your stay. We do have some extra camp cups on hand, but you might want to bring your own if you have one you love. We have disposable plates and utensils to offer as well. If you foresee any kitchen items you may need, by all means please ask.
Our bathroom facilities include a very clean porta-potty with hand sanitizer, and we have a hot shower available as well. We will provide you with towels if needed.
Once we wrap up in the morning around 10 or 11, or earlier if you’d prefer, we’ll shuttle or escort you back down to where it all began. If you’re staying for two nights, you’ll likely want to do some kind of day trip in the area as there are many great ones (see EasternSierraNevada.com for ideas). If this is the case, then plan for something just like this, except we’ll pick you back up again that afternoon for round two! Or, if you’re staying two nights and you’d like to spend the entire day in between them relaxing and exploring at the ESO, that’s fine too.
We are always willing to work with any requests you may have to make your stay as enjoyable as it can be.
Some things you’ll want to bring:
a headlamp and/or flashlight (headlamps work best!)
shoes and/or flip flops for the hot tub — NEVER walk around this Mars-like landscape barefoot or you’ll regret it!
appropriate clothes for nighttime weather and hot tub usage
your dinner and any snacks or beverages you’d like outside of water, coffee, and our light breakfast
any medications or personal supplies as you may be away from your vehicle
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, otherwise we’ll hope to see you soon for this one of a kind stargazing experience!