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A look at some of the top celestial events of Welcome to our night sky. Did you know that there are countless children and adults who have never seen the Milky Way? Light pollution map. Click image for interactive map. Photo: University of Colorado. The Eastern Sierra still has incredibly dark, clear skies and the region is within relatively close proximity to almost 30 million coastal California residents — many of whom are subject to excessive light pollution.
Here in the Owens Valley on the east side of the Sierra Nevada there are many easily accessible places where night sky viewing is exceptional. Visitors to our area tell us that they are awestruck by the abundance of stars and clarity of the Milky Way on a moonless night. The Milky Way is as obvious here today as it was when Galileo first focused his rudimentary telescope at this phenomenon in and discovered Bridgeport gazing tonight it was made up of stars.
The night sky has captured the human imagination from time immemorial. Scientists, artists, philosophers, photographers, lovers, and people of all cultures have gazed up at the sky in wonder. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to see, at least once in a lifetime, the amazing spectacle of the Milky Way and an intensely sparkling, starry night sky.
Take some time to study our stargazing guide and make a plan to visit the Eastern Sierra for your stellar experience. What makes the Eastern Sierra so special for night sky viewing is that so many of the settings have spectacular natural beauty of their own.
Outdoor enthusiasts, astronomers, and photographers will be enthralled and engaged by a night out in the Eastern Sierra. The lack of light pollution in the Owens Valley is largely due to the fact that it is one the least populated regions in the country. The valley is about miles long by 6 to 18 miles wide, with a land area of about 3, square miles and has a population density of just 5.
It is considered to be one of the deepest valleys in the United States. Situated at about 4, feet above sea level the valley floor is flanked by two of the highest mountain ranges on the continent. The magnificent and well-known Sierra Nevada rise up dramatically on the west side of the valley to over 14, feet. The White and Inyo Mountains are the gentle giants to the east that rise as high in some places.
All this contributes to the region having low light pollution, clear air, and very few cloudy nights. The heart of the Eastern Sierra is perfectly situated for a brilliant night sky experience. In addition to seeing the stars in the sky, visitors can tour a state-of-the-art radio telescope array. The Owens Valley Radio Observatory OVROrun by the California Institute of Technology Caltechis one of the largest university-operated observatories in the world and hosts Bridgeport gazing tonight projects in radio astronomy and cosmology.
By earlythe first foot antenna was operational and soon thereafter a second one was listening to outer space. Today, the scope of the operation is extensive and world-class. Night sky viewing is a year-round activity in the Owens Valley and should be coordinated primarily with moon phases, the seasons, timing of astronomical events, and the weather.
On a cloudless, new moon night when the moon is not illuminated by the sun the stars will shine brightest for the longest period of time.
The diverse landscape of the Owens Valley, with the rugged mountains on either side, has many beautiful places for super dark skies that can be reached by car. Some high elevation destinations are not accessible during mid-winter, but many lower elevation spots are perfect for a few hours of stargazing, or an overnight camping expedition for the full nighttime experience.
Summer months offer warm, dry nights that make this a perfect time for teaching kids about the cosmos. Cold, clear winter nights present optimal conditions for night sky viewing.
There are two factors that contribute to this. One is the nights are longer in the northern hemisphere. The other is that cold air holds less moisture, which means more transparency and greater clarity. From late summer to early fall is the best time of the year to see the Milky Way.
The brightest portion of this ribbon of stars arcs almost directly overhead from Bridgeport gazing tonight southwest to the northeast parts of the sky. This starry arch can be seen closer to the horizon as we move into winter. In spring it will be hidden as it runs along the horizon, where the denser atmosphere near the ground will make it invisible. In summer it will begin to rise again.
Other celestial objects to look for in the sky are the planets, comets, and meteor showers. These are also more visible in our night sky on dark, cloudless nights. Mobius Arch and Milky Way. Photo: stevenjmagner. Astronomy can be a fun and rewarding activity for the whole family. A new smart phone is a great way to capture some simple snapshots of the night sky and there are many excellent star apps that can provide maps, charts, and information on what you will see in the sky.
Some of the destinations for good star viewing in the Eastern Sierra will not have cellular phone connection and so a good paper star chart would be worth including in your astronomy kit. Professional grade night sky photography may require more than a smart phone and basic photographic equipment should include a full-frame camera, a fish-eye lens, and a tripod. There are many good tutorials online for beginning night sky photographers. Ancient Bristlecone Pine and ancient stars. Photo: Tony Rowell. When planning your trip to view the night sky consider all the various aspects that will affect what you will see in the sky.
Keep a close watch on the weather and what each season will bring into view. Here are a of informative links that you can use to research and plan your trip. For more detailed information on local weather, as well as other things to do and see in and around Bishop, call the Bishop Visitor Center at Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help you plan your trip to get the best possible experience. Remember the weather in the Eastern Sierra is unpredictable almost any time of year.
Be prepared for sudden changes, especially at higher elevations, and bring clothing layers to stay warm and protected. Some of these high elevation destinations will not have any services, food or water available so make sure to carry enough and a little more of everything for everyone in your party. How to photograph meteors with DSLR. Milky Way no longer visible to one third of humanity.
Light pollution map image of North America. International Dark Sky Week. The Milky Way. The Space Calendar. Monthly Star Chart for Northern Hemisphere. Lunar Calendar. Astronomical Calendar of Celestial Events. Along US Highway from Lone Pine, 60 miles south of Bishop, Bridgeport gazing tonight Mono Lake, 66 miles north of Bishop, there are innumerable places to stop, hike, bivvy for a few hours, or camp overnight for stargazing.
Follow the stars on the map to see the locations of these great stargazing places. Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous USA, can be seen through a natural rock arch named the Mobius Arch. A glittering night sky with the sinuous path of the Milky Way as the backdrop is a sight to behold on a moonless night.
During a full moon in winter the skyline of the Sierra Nevada and Mt Whitney will be starkly white in an azure sky with a sprinkling of twinkling stars. Papoose Flat is known for its unique landscape of randomly isolated granite spires that dot the flat, and for the marvelous views of the Sierra Nevada crest and Owens Valley below. This high desert flat is a circular, tree-less expanse of scrub desert dominated by these tall granite spires rising out of the ground at irregular intervals. The drive will require a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle, with an experienced OHV driver at the wheel.
Take plenty of water, food, clothing layers, and extra gear for everyone in your party. A trip up here can be a delightful overnight, summertime adventure.Bridgeport gazing tonight
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