Scouting Joshua Tree National Park - StarDude Astronomy
Black Rock Campground
May 16-17, 2015
This event was different from my usual events in that I had the honor of being invited by a local Cub Scout pack (Den 9, Pack 766) to join them on a camping trip up to Joshua Tree National Park and be their guide to the night sky! I was more than happy to accept.
I packed all my gear into B.O.B. (Big Orange Beast, my Orange Honda Element) and headed out about mid-morning. We arrived at the campsite unpacked our gear, set-up the tents and gathered with the scouts. Next it was decided that we were to go on an awesome 6 1/2 mile hike around the "Panorama Loop" trail. This hike offered amazing views of wildlife, plant life, interesting rock formations and of course breathtaking landscapes! Definitely a hike I will do again.
After the hike, we all gathered around for a nice dinner over the campfire. After chowing down on a delicious hamburger, I set off to ready the telescope and prepare for the astronomy lecture. The scouts all gathered around and listened intently asking questions and making comments. Even the parents got into it. We then headed to the scope and were fortunate to get some good sights of Jupiter and its 4 visible moons as well as Venus and Saturn. Sadly thick clouds rolled in and ruined any chance of seeing any Deep Sky Objects (DSO's). About this time it was time for bed...well at least for all the normal people. Haha. I stayed up a few hours longer, composing shots and playing around. At about 1:30 AM, I had taken as many shots as I needed. I set up the camera to do a time lapse and went to sleep.
Just 4 1/2 hours later, I awoke to get some shots of the sunrise over the mountains. Again playing around a bit, I got some funny shadow images. A little while later, the scouts also woke up and it was breakfast time. We all munched on breakfast burritos, fruits and juice! Yum! After breakfast, the scouts played and ran around camp enjoying themselves while I set up for my first ever attempt at doing a Hyperlapse, basically a moving time-lapse, where the camera moves at set distance intervals while taking shots at set time intervals. After taking them, I was excited to see how they turned out. As you can see in the video, I think they came out pretty good!
Next, we all gathered as a group, sang some songs together and enjoyed each other company for a while longer before taking down camp and saying our thanks and goodbyes. This was an awesome event that I will not forget.
Thank you Den 9, Pack 766!
Clear Skies to you all!