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Gliese 581 C
2007-May-14, 09:51 PM
I'm currently living in the Los Angeles area, and I was wondering if there were any good places to go stargazing that aren't more than 2 hours away from the city. Any ideas?

AutoClub
2007-May-14, 11:34 PM
Hi Gliese 581 C - what part of Los Angeles are you near? There are a few areas near L.A. (I live in the west San Fernando Valley), and it may make a difference of an hour or two depending on what general area you are from.

Clear skies!

Paul

Gliese 581 C
2007-May-15, 12:03 AM
I'm in the Culver City area.

AutoClub
2007-May-15, 07:10 PM
Hi - since you are on the west side, one of the two closest places that I've been to would be in the hills above the north end of Malibu. I have a friend who has invited me over to his house for star parties a number of times, and he has a home about 1200 feet or so above sea level, north of Malibu. He has Milky Way every clear night, and being above the lights and fog layer down by the coast, the seeing is pretty decent. I've done some limited imaging there, and it's a whole lot better than the San Fernando Valley.

The second place I've been to, and one that is used by the Local Group Santa Clarita Valley as a "close" location, is called Templin Highway. It's just north of Castaic on I5. Just north of Castaic, the northbound/southbound freeway splits, with the northbound lanes on the west side. After a short distance, the freeway returns to its normal northbound-are-right-lanes running, and the first off-ramp after that is called Templin Highway. At the bottom of the off-ramp, turn right, and go just under 1 mile. The road curves around and will take you to the Old Ridge Route. There is a stop sign there. If you get to the stop sign at the Ridge Route, you have just passed it. It actually is a wide spot off the right side of Templin Highway, that is often used for clean fill dirt for street maintenance (as I've been told), and frequently guys will set up there. There are no restrooms there - that's the only bad thing. But it is probably about as dark as any area that is anywhere near Castaic. It is sometimes windy there, but it is a lot closer than going to Mt. Pinos (which is 80 miles one-way, and a good 1.5 hour drive from my home in the Valley), and it is also a lot warmer also, since Mt. Pinos is 8600-feet elevation. I believe I measured Templin Highway as being 31 miles (one-way) from my home.

You might also check into the Ojai area, north of Ventura. That's pushing the 2-hour drive time you were looking to avoid though.

Another area you might wish to think about is Saddleback Butte, which is about 20 miles east of Lancaster. That's probably going to be about 2-hours as well, but it is not near as hard a drive as going to Mt. Pinos.

Hope this helps!

Clear skies!

Paul

Gliese 581 C
2007-May-15, 08:03 PM
...one of the two closest places that I've been to would be in the hills above the north end of Malibu. I have a friend who has invited me over to his house for star parties a number of times, and he has a home about 1200 feet or so above sea level, north of Malibu. He has Milky Way every clear night, and being above the lights and fog layer down by the coast, the seeing is pretty decent. I've done some limited imaging there, and it's a whole lot better than the San Fernando Valley.

Are there any roads in the Malibu hills you would suggest?

Thanks, I really appreciate the info!

AutoClub
2007-May-16, 02:17 PM
Are there any roads in the Malibu hills you would suggest?

My friend lives in a private residence off Deer Creek Road (almost up to Pt. Mugu State Park). If you decide to take this road, be sure you're awake and drive slowly! It is steep, full of tight turns, and it's a straight drop if you miss!! My friend fell asleep one morning while going home from work after pulling a double shift - that, and after many nights of star gazing and not getting enough sleep - he went over the side in his Mercedes, woke up in the middle of the crash, and was so tired he fell asleep again until his car finally came to its final crash site. He wasn't hurt, probably because he was so relaxed and in a dead sleep at the time. His car didn't do so well, though.

I don't know if there are other roads that go up into the hills from PCH, but I'm sure there are. I've just never taken any of them. And, of course, Topanga Canyon, Mulholland Highway and Kanan Road all go through the mountains in that general area, but you obviously can't stop there, as they are the main routes to the Valley from the coast other than via freeways. I would just take a map and go for a ride during the day, to scope out the area, and see what looks like a logical place that may be deserted and "user-friendly" at night, and that might not be on private property. There are coyotes in the area, and I've heard them every time I've been at my friend's home, so that's something else to look for. Oh, and rattlesnakes if you go there in the summer! You might want to take a look at some of the state parks that are scattered along the coast in that area. I think some of them are up in the hills, and if they are open at night (i.e., the gates aren't locked at 10:00 p.m.) that might be a good, hopefully safe area to stargaze.

Hope this helps! Good luck in your pursuit of a dark site close-by.

Clear skies!

Paul