For the past 45 years
the Sidewalk Astronomers have gone to where the people are…….. as John Dobson would say. John’s
vision to include Death Valley’s phenomenal geological history and the dark sky….. has placed Death
Valley National Park as a must see spot. Death Valley was the first National Park that John visited and then
he went on to include the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Craker Lake and other national and state parks. John deserves
such a well spring of thanks for starting a great legacy of connecting the skies and the national parks that warehouse
these beautiful settings.
Every year the Sidewalk Astronomers carry on his tradition and partnership with
the rangers at Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The park is so overwhelming with all
the beautiful – natural geologic sites to take in. We arrive on Dec 26th and check in with the Furnace
Creek Rangers. Our schedule is a little different every year, sometimes we do a talk/presentation at the visitor center but
in the last few years the park has added astronomy and the night sky to the list of topics for regular talks so there is no
need for us to provide this service. We do hold nightly observations at the visitor center and do solar observing throughout
the day. Working in conjunction with the rangers, we often hold a large star party one night (this varies year to year).
The guests are varied and friendly
and are from all over the world, everyone who came to spend their holiday at Death Valley. Many have made
this journey their yearly pilgrimage due to John and the sidewalk astronomers.
We stay at Death Valley for 3 days and
usually leave on the 29th. We work in shifts during the day so that there is time for everyone to explore the park. There
are lots of activities at Furnace Creek: a swimming pool, golf course, and horseback riding.
There are a lot of different options
for lodging and camping. If you wish to join us and are coming from out of state, we take many telescopes and can make sure
that you have a scope to use. Since most of us drive up from Los Angeles, there are also options for transportation to and
from LA. If you are interested in sharing a ride or scope, please email us.
There are also lots of attractions on the drive to/from Death Valley depending
on which route you take. The Calico Early Man site is an interesting archealogical dig in progress, the Calico ghost town
is a cute place to grab a burger or Peggy Sue's 50's diner with its Hollywood gift shop. Barstow has a lot of museums including
one for Route 66 and early railroads. If you come up through Trona there are the natural Pinnacles. If you go through
Shoshone, there is a Fig Ranch that is amazing - it is completely hidden and out of place in the desert. There might be more
attractions on the way from Vegas or from Needles, we just aren't as familiar with them. If we've missed something, let us