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Nice day for a run

A photo from running in Sycamore Canyon. What a neat day!


Run around Lake Perris

Anne and I went for a run around Lake Perris today. Just under 9 miles, the loop around the lake is 2/3 paved, 1/3 dirt/grassy double wide trail (south and east sides of lake) with a neat short hilly single track trail at the southwest end of the 2 mile long dam. The day use parking fee is $8 which is a little steep for what the State park has to offer (compared to other State Parks like Torrey Pines ) but still a nice run in the middle of Moreno Valley.


Joshua Tree Stargazing

After work last night, we headed out to Cottonwood Springs Campground in Joshua Tree National Park with our Obsession telescope to do some stargazing. We got there and had the telescope and tent set up by 9pm. It was one of the clearest nights we've seen out there so far. It was also nice and cold - still some snow left around the parking from the winter storm that passed through last week.

We started off in Orion with the Orion Nebula then moved on to NGC 2024 which was easily seen in the 18" UC. After about a half an hour of searching and referencing the Night Sky Observer's Guide Volume 1 Autumn & Winter we were able to identify the Horsehead Nebula without a filter. This was the first time I have ever seen it through a telescope. It wasn't very bright, maybe next new moon we can try it with a H-beta filter. The Eskimo Nebula was next and much easier to see than when we tried a couple months ago. When it was high enough in the sky, we looked at Saturn - the first time of the year. The rings are nearly edge-on, just like the first time I ever looked into a telescope 13 years ago. We spent the rest of the night looking at a few other nebula (M1 the Crab Nebula in Taurus) and then the galaxies M101 (the Pinwheel), M108, and M51 (the Whirlpool) around the Big Dipper.
It was a cold night sleeping in the tent, but nice not to have to pack up and drive back to Riverside - thanks to Will for covering my shift back at the pharmacy the next day!


Surveying property in Wisconsin

We spent this weekend (Nov 16th) in Wisconsin surveying an 11 acre piece of property ( in this area ) that we are considering buying. It is actually quite a neat location with a large, steep hill occupying most of the acreage. After the whole mess and fall through with the Mill property, we are looking for a new place to build a home - Anne really likes it and I could go either way. It will be a difficult construction project if we go through with it, but the views from the top are great - it is one of the highest points in the area with the southern view direction being nearly flat to the horizon. It took about three days to complete the entire thing thanks to Anne's sister who was able to get us the surveying equipment. Luckily the weather held out and except for being cold, we didn't have much snow or bad weather. There was lots of walking up and down the hill carrying various pieces of equipment and after three days, I was spent. Hopefully it all works out!


Thanksgiving day run at Santa Rosa Plateau

It was a really nice cool and cloudy day so we ant for a run out at
Santa Rosa Plateau. It had been raining on and off the past couple
day so the trails were damp, but only muddy in a few places. Not many
people out here today, so we had the park to ourselves except for a
couple coyotes running by.


Heading to Wisconsin to survey a potential new home site.

We spent the day today traveling to Wisconsin via Denver and MSP.
We're here for the weekend to land survey a potential new area to
build a home. Our "plan A" hasn't turned out so good due to politics,
local opinion, and red tape (you can read about it @
). The post below is a picture of the area we are looking at.


Potential new home site.


Driveway observing - Jupiter

Last weekend I had planned to take the telescope out to Joshua Tree National Park, but the entire southwest was clouded out for the weekend so I set up the telescope to take a look at Jupiter. It is getting pretty low in the western sky now when the sun is setting which unfortunately is where most of our light pollution is coming from. There was too much distortion to really use any high magnification but the view through the Obsession UC 18" was almost better than we ever had in our previous 11" Celestron so that was pretty cool. It was just fun being outside and enjoying the night. Friday night, there is going to be a Europa shadow transit on Jupiter so I'll try to catch that - probably the last transit for us until next year when Jupiter is back high in the sky.


Running at Santa Rosa Plateau

Went for a 11.5mi run this morning at Santa Rosa Plateau. It's finally starting to cool off in the mornings now. It was nice and cloudy but kinda humid (my sunglasses kept fogging up). Saw 5 tarantulas and two deer along the way.


Just a small one this time

saw this small western diamondback while out running today - maybe
just 2 1/2 feet long.


Grandview Campground Astronomy (near Big Pine, CA)

We left on Friday and headed up to the White Mountains (east of the Sierras) to camp at Grandview Campground near the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest at a little. It is a primitive site - no water (anywhere), pit toilets, dry/dusty, but really dark skies and almost no light pollution (check this map ).
We arrived late on Friday and after finally finding a campsite we set up our 18" UC telescope (in the picture behind us) and camp. Many of the campsites were taken but not many people with telescopes even though it was new moon. Unfortunately, there were several vehicles that drove through the area to quickly during the night kicking up dust along the way.
After letting the telescope cool down we started observing around midnight - the sky was nice and dark but the seeing could have been better. Regardless, it was nice to be out camping with such nice weather. We stayed up and observed until around 4:30am and looked at several galaxies and planetary nebula. I think our favorite of the night was the Blue Snowball planetary nebula.
We spent Saturday down in the nearby town of Bishop, using the WiFi at Starubcks to get some work done then headed back up to the campground later (and cooler) in the day. Saturday night was much the same as Friday just spending the night out camping.


Another day, another rattlesnake

I was out for a run tonight around sunset in Sycamore Canyon. Since I
saw the last rattlesnake, I've been more cautious and watchful - but
tonight, just as I finished my run, I came across this guy near the
parking lot!


Santa Rosa Plateau trail run

We ran today at the Santa Rosa Plateau for the first time in a while.
All the flowers are gone, replace by brown and golden grass. We ran a
six mile loop starting at the Vernal Pool trailhead. It was not too
hot yet early in the morning so we had a great run!


Morning Run Rattlesnake

I was out running this morning in Sycamore Canyon and heading quickly
downhill when I nearly stepped on this snake coming sound a turn. I
was coming from the background of the picture and almost didn't see it
because it was just on the right hand side of the trail and blended in
well. I was going too fast to stop so I leaped as high and as far as
I could to clear it.. At first I didn't think it was a rattlesnake
because I've never seen one this big before (probably over 5 ft long
and the size of my fist) but as I passed it, it coiled up and started
to rattle and hiss letting me know he meant business! That's the
second rattlesnake I've seen in two days.


Joshua Tree NP Astronomy

We went out to Joshua Tree National Park last night to camp and use our Obsession 18" UC telescope. We set up camp in space B17 at the Cottonwood Springs campground where there were a few other astronomers there (Vernon with an 18" Starmaster and couple guys imaging with refractors). Heading across the parking lot to use the bathroom, we had a run in with a small rattlesnake that was crossing our path - that's the first time we have seen one in all the years we have been coming here. After getting the telescope and tent set up, we took a nap until it cooled off a bit around 11:30p. We started off watching the Jovian moon Io transit and cast a shadow onto Jupiter. The seeing was decent and it stayed warm (shorts weather) all night. We looked at a variety of deep sky objects and spent some time learning to use the Argo Navis pointing system.
The seeing started to get worse around 3am (stars started twinkling and contrast was reduced) so we quit around 4:15am and went to sleep.
It doesn't take long to for things to heat up in the desert as it was too hot to stay int the tent much later than 7:30am so we packed up and headed home. It was a great 4th of July weekend!


Roadtrip Day 15 - Flastaff to Home - 6,100 miles since we left!

We got up this morning and went for a run around the NAU campus then headed over to the Campus Coffee Bean for breakfast where Anne says she had the best pancakes that she has ever had in her life.
Our first stop for the day was to see the Meteor Crater about 40 miles east of Flagstaff. It is the location of a meteor impact that occurred 50,000 years ago forming the crater that is 570 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide. There is a really nice visitors center designed by the architect Philip Johnson. Anyone in the Flagstaff area visiting the Grand Canyon should definately make an attempt to visit the crater. I find it more impressive than the GC.
We headed west passing back through Flagstaff and down through Sedona, around Phoenix and back on I-10 to Riverside. We finally made it home - 6,100 miles, 15 days, and only 1 speeding ticket!


Road Trip day 14 - Durango, CO to Flagstaff, AZ via Grand Canyon

We headed out from Durango this morning on our way to Flagstaff, AZ. Crossing the boarder into New Mexico, we took a small detour to see
Shiprock (picture), a unique formation in the middle of the desert on the Navajo Indian reservation. It was really neat to see.
We headed from here towards Arizona and wanted to stop at the USGS monument at the Four Corners (where the boarders of AZ, NM, CO, and UT meet), but upon arriving, we found that it was inside an indian "trading post" that cost money to see/access. Deciding it wasn't worth paying to see, we headed back west towards the Grand Canyon. We saw several neat rock formations along the way and finally made it to the Grand Canyon around 4pm. After walking around the vistas and visitors center for a couple hours we headed to Flagstaff.


Road Trip Day 13 - Omaha, NE to Durango, CO

We drove from Omaha to Durango today via Denver and Leadville, Gunnison, Montrose, and Ouray. After stopping in Denver for lunch we headed towards Leadville and then on to Gunnison. From here we passed along the Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (picture). It was right before sunset and the views of the reservoir and park were awesome. It seemed like there were deer around every corner coming down from the hills - we saw the local firemen/paramedics on scene of a guy who crashed his motorcycle (probably into a deer).
Later, we passed through the town of Ouray on the the 550 (going south). Leaving town, the road climbs a snaking path up the side of the mountains with huge drops of the side just a couple feet from the road with no guardrails. Too bad it was dark during our drive, it seemed like it would have had really cool views. There were still lots of deer along the way and we finally got to Durango around 11pm. We stayed in the
Durango Doubletree hotel with the Animas river just a few steps from our room balcony.


Road Trip Day 12 - Chicago to Omaha, NE

We spent today driving from Chicago to Omaha, Nebraska. Not much to see along the way - mostly farms. We did have to take a 100 mile detour around the Cedar Rapids/Eastern Iowa area due to all the flooding (I-80 was closed due to flood water rising higher than the freeway).


Waterfall Glen trail run - DuPage County, IL

We ran at the Waterfall Glen preserve today which goes around the
Argonne National Labs. We parked at the campground lot and ran down
to the waterfall. Interestingly, about 20 years ago, I worked to
repair some of the stone steps in the area when I was in the Boy

The entire loop is 9.5 miles and just has a few moderate
hills along the way. It wasn't too hot for the most part and there
are wells along the way to get cool water.