NightFall Star Party

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Mighty ETX Star Party / RMTC Nightfall

at Borrego Springs CA

Sept 30th through October 2nd 2005

Earla and I headed over to Borrego Springs Friday morning and arrived at the Palm Canyon Resort to find the weather hotter than they expected for that time of year.  While we are used to hot (98 degree) weather, camping in it is not the most fun.  Fortunately the resort has a pool and air-conditioned buildings to hide in.  The resort apparently changed hands recently and the Internet Access in the campgrounds advertised on their website was non existent as was any restaurant facilities.  Pizza and sandwiches were available Friday night so we did not starve.  

The Nightfall astronomy event is put on by the Riverside Astronomical Society and has been held annually for 13 years. The resort apparently is touted as being Astronomy Friendly and they installed red lights EVERYWHERE in place of white lights. Viewing Friday night was pretty much hit and miss with cloud cover pretty solid until 2 or 3 in the morning, well after most people folded for the night.

Earla and I spent Saturday driving around the mountains and sight seeing.


This is up in the mountains looking down into the Imperial Valley.  Borrego Springs is to the left.

Saturday afternoon there was a presentation by Mike Weasner in the clubhouse.  It was a question/answer session due to the fact his guest speakers both had to cancel.  A good time and lots of information was exchanged.  The door prizes were plentiful, with a whole bunch of moon filters being handed out in between the eyepieces and other goodies.  Beevo won a 42mm wide field eyepiece donated by the folks at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.  Meade donated an ETX90 with AutoStar and a nice fitted case for the scope was donated by The Case Place.  

A "Bring Yer Own Meat" pot luck dinner was organized by the RAS and Earla and I headed over to Borrego Springs only grocery store to see what we could whip up as our contribution.  We settled on "Camper Salsa".  Someone shot an image of us grilling our Teriyaki Chicken, I'm wearing my blue SAC shirt and Earla in the maroon shirt is to my left.

Saturday night's viewing was a whole lot better and a large number of ETX owners showed up with scopes and set them up.  A separate area for the ETX people was provided, most likely to prevent the non-ETX people from getting jealous.  :<)

Earla and I elected to stay Sunday night and found out that the Palm Canyon Resort becomes astronomy unfriendly right after the star party ends!  All the red bulbs were replaced with white lights before sunset.  If we had known this we would definitely have moved on up into the mountains and found a dark site to camp and set up scopes.  The skies got real rough around midnight and I packed it up and went to bed.

There is a chance that we will try the Nightfall event again, but definitely will camp elsewhere on Sunday night!!  The 2006 event is being held late in October so it will definitely be cooler.  I plan to attend with a friend who will be visiting from Minnesota.

Monday morning we headed east and south to see the Badlands of California and the Salton Sea.  We stopped at the Sonny Bono Wildlife refuge and saw thousands of Egrets and other birds.  We then drove through the Glamis Sand Dunes and took a pretty much straight route home.

Copyright 1997-2012 by Bill VanOrden