WOW!!!! What a weekend of observing! I got out on Friday and on Saturday to Forest Road 006 Site 4 (yes Josh, I had it labeled, it is site 4). I got a lot in and a lot of work done and I'll be posting that next weekend as this week I am swarmed with work and class (last week of class). So until then I'll post what the observing site looks via some pictures. The site comes in as a SQM reading of 23.49 which is about a 7.18 NELM.
I also want to say that on Friday we had Chris from North Carolina (Raleigh) with us and that was a blast. We enjoyed sharing out views and talking shop with him. I want to say I appreciate that we all came out and had a blast. I think with this site I may camp over if I am doing a back to back though. Okay, here are the images.
This is at the observing site looking north and if you look on the desert valley floor in the distance, you will see the sun casting its last rays down on the valley floor through a pass that was used by the Pony Express in the 1860's. Nice open view here though those are Juniper trees in the distance. Right now we have short, green wild grass so the dust is very minimal.
This is taken looking northeast back toward where the Salt Lake Co. light dome will be. Nothing that interferes and the several ranges of mountains shield a lot of that light from hitting this site.
This is looking west, you can see the Sun's rays that are hitting the valley floor in the first picture here. Those Juniper's are interesting for my friend Nancy and her husband John because there is a Great Horn Owl that has taken resident up in those trees and hoots until about midnight and is answered by another Great Horn Owl just to the east of us. We leave them alone of course and enjoy their serenade. The Junipers are short and really don't interfere with anything in the sky, unless you want to go really low.
This is another western view and you can see here a trail where ATV's are not allowed to allow soil and vegetation recovery. We did have about 2 to 3 ATV's go by the main road during the day, but they left us alone. It was nice, no guns though a kid did have a pellet gun and you could hear him hitting cans with his Dad (I drove by when they were doing this on Saturday).
Above is the view to the south, and the mountains don't interfere with the views. Actually, in another month, we may just move to a ridge up there that overlooks the south with as good a view as Wolf Creek but we'll see if that is true.
This is the view to the south-west and the ridge is located on the other side to the left side of this image that I talked about in the last image. Beautiful views, dark, dark skies and you just can't beat the location. I don't have an eastern picture taken but to the east are some Juniper trees and under them are some unimproved camp sites. So if someone wanted to have a star party here, it would be very easy and could probably handle a pretty decent side group. You could ATV by day or go to the Vernon Reservoir during the day to fish or go hiking and then observe at night.
A very similar shot to the previous one, but more of a wider angle and this is the view of the mountains from the observing site. It is a good one!
Here is the XX14i collimated and cooling and get ready for the night. You can see the south to south eastern view here and in the distance to the far left (seems the scope is kinda of point to the Juniper Tree) you can see a Juniper Tree. That is where they are and they are up about 20 feet and provide shade to the camping area. I put my mat down but with the grasses here I really don't think I needed it.
On another note, my good friend Mat as he was setting up on Friday found a tick on the front of his shirt. So I pulled out the mosquito and tick spray I have and we all sprayed were our clothing was loose (feet, wrists, neckline etc) and as Mat has said, it is a good reminder that as warmer weather is here to make sure your prepared for the insects. We would hate to see anyone getting sick from observing and an insect bite etc.
Here is the LONG, 5 mile dirt road that goes out to the T where you turn right to get to FR006. It is dusty, with some larger rocks so give some space between you and the car in front and behind you if you go out with others. You'll need to wash your car after being out here!
Now why did I include a picture of a shovel here? Because it is an essential tool of the amateur astronomer! You can use it if it rains and it gets muddy and you get stuck to help you to get unstuck. It comes in handy if you need to go to the bathroom and there are not any portable toilets around (yes, you should dig a hole down a good 12 inches or so, away from poison oak etc and make sure it is downhill from any trails, observing site or especially well away from a water source or well). A shovel helps to clear out dried sheep or cow manure so your observing area is clean (if you want it to be) and it can help to remove rocks and other items as well. So have a shovel in your car when you go observing is the tip for this week.
Hopefully a good many of you got out and got some great pictures taken or some wonderful observing in!
Edit: My friend Jorge used his Canon DSLR camera and took a one minute exposure of himself. He had a small red light next to him for some illumination. You can see Orion and Canis Major in the background easily. You can get a sense of the dark skies here and this is early in the evening if I remember right.