If you have seen one of our events advertising a Deep Sky Party, then this is the post you should be reading. This should give you all the info on how to attend, what to expect, and how to behave!
So… How Do I Get There?
Orion Bear Astronomy usually does their public Deep Sky Parties at the Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. This area of the park is further east, about 30 miles east of Indio, CA.
From Interstate 10, the correct exit number is 168 onto Cottonwood Spring Rd. If you’re coming from the west, you make a left (coming from the east, make a right). You will enter the National Park shortly, and once you pass the Bajada Trailhead exhibit, and go through the mountain pass, you WILL lose cell service!
You will eventually arrive at a fork, where there is a visitor center. Make a right at the fork, and then make a left at the next fork into the Cottonwood Campground sites. There are signs there that help guide you.
Be sure to check where we are, as we may be at an individual campsite site within one of the loops, or be at a larger group site.
**May 3 Location**
For May 3, we will be located at B-18 and 19. This means we will be in the second loop. The loop is a 1 way road, and you should be able to find parking spots along the loop. There is additional parking near the restrooms, and near the group sites in case you cannot find a spot to park along the loop.
The campground is located in the high desert, about 3,000 feet in elevation, thus has extreme differences in temperature based on the season. During the summer, the temperatures can be nice at night, but during the winter, you can be dealing with below freezing conditions! Always check the weather and don’t forget your jackets, gloves, hat/beanie, or anything you need to stay warm!
DO NOT get caught in the desert with shorts and sandals/flip flops; there are bugs, spiders, scorpions, and reptiles that live in the ground, and we’ve encountered each of them at the campsites! While these creatures don’t want to bother you, it is possible you can run into one if you’re not careful – Scorpions especially are easy to see at night thanks to them glowing in the dark under UV lights.
There are also plenty of plants with needles that break off easily and stick to your clothes and skin… so you have been double warned!
Arrival and Leaving
We have the site reserved overnight, but you don’t need to stay the whole night – you may arrive and leave as you please. We prefer you arrive while there is still light out, it’s just easier to set up that way. When you do decide to leave, just please be considerate when it comes to lights, as we are tying to keep our eyes adapted to the dark.
When we are focusing solely on observing, we will implement a RED LIGHT ONLY rule. The reason is because white lights ruin your adaptation to the night sky, but red lights don’t. If you only have a white flashlight, you may still bring it as we’ll cover it with cellophane. Just please be careful and don’t shine any lights in anyone’s faces!
Food and Drinks / Amenities
We’ll have water, and we’ll provide the entree (most likely hot dogs) until they run out. If you desire to bring your own drinks and snacks to have for yourselves or share, you are more than welcome to that. There are some park tables and fire pits provided, but make sure it belongs to our campsite. Whatever you bring, please make sure we leave the park in the same condition we arrived in!
Remember that there is no cell service, but there are bathrooms with running water and toilet paper!
You don’t need to bring any equipment to enjoy the party. There will be personal telescopes, and if you would like to bring yours please do so! But if you don’t have any, you are more than welcome to look through them! You’ll be told this in person, but please don’t put your hands on any equipment without authorization!
This event is free! However, we do accept donations of any amount to help cover the cost of reserving the sites and providing some amenities. You can donate in person or through this website!
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