Fremont Peak State Park in the dark of the moon

Your host for this event is John Cincotta.  Please contact him if you have questions or ask below.  You might first want to read the "Must Read This" page as it may answer most of your questions.

Weather Forecast <-- Click

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This is a fairly dark site with a few interesting additions.  It is Fremont Peak State Park. It's a 13 mile drive up hill from San Juan Bautista which can be an interesting stop on the way up or down. The road is winding, wooded and narrow.

 

About The Park

There are a few problems as well.

There is a TV transmitter on the top of of the mountain to the south. The tower is Spanish language channel for Santa Cruz area. The shot of the Milky Way was is facing the transmitter shielded by trees. This was 30 seconds at f/3.2 , ISO 2000.

Another interesting feature is that you can see Santa Cruz south past the Moss Landing Power Plant.  Interesting after sunset before the fog comes in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sunset from there.

Santa Cruz is a handy tool for focusing at infinity.

There is a amateur astronomical observatory there with a 30" scope

This weekend is a public star party there.

As well as a good night to try for the Messier marathon (it is possible to see all Messier objects with a good scope in March new moon). So there may be a lot of people there but most will be gone by midnight.

 

Note sunset is 6:07pm and moonrise is 6:26am on Sunday

 

I usually stay all night rather than try and drive 13 miles down the mountain in the dark.

 

The gps location is[masked]N[masked] W for the observatory.

Lets meet at the parking lot overlooking Santa Cruz that has a couple of pit toilets on the left edge. This is a nice place for sunsets.

 

This meeting will be moved to April 6th if it is raining in San Juan Bautista at noon on the day of the event.

 

Camping / Overnight Use

Access fee is $6 for day use (up to one hour after sunset) and an additional* $25 for camping or overnight use.  If booked through ReserveAmerica, there is also an $8 reservation fee.  Not all campsites are reservable about 4 are first-come first served. The number of cars permitted depends on the campsite selected.  Assume that one car per site is the norm. Anyone else must park in the separate parking area.  There are about 35 available spaces in the two parking areas, not including at least one area per campsite.  Click HERE for a campsite map.  There are both tent and RV/Trailer campsites.

*NOTE: ReserveAmerica implies that the campground fee includes admission for one vehicle into the park.


(click map for larger image)
NOTE: The map is labeled incorrectly. Valley View is at the left (west) and offers mostly RV spots and Oak Point is toward the top and has only tent sites.

In retrospect we should have reserved the Doe Creek group area at $100. It permits 50 people and 25 cars.


What About Weather?

The current weather forecast is here:  weather.gov Be sure to look at the right date/time!

Forecast as of 3/7 8 am: 
Sky cover ~ 12%; Low 40 F; Wind < 9 mph. Humidity < 83%


On "Clear Sky Chart" darker blue = better (except for temperature where darker blue = colder!).  This is a "live" chart and changes as the forecast changes.

 

Questions and Answers:

1. Do I need a camping permit if I stay all night - even if I'm not camping?
Yes. All overnight guests in the park must have camping permits.  You can arrange to use the capacity of someone's campsite in discussions below. We recommend that you pay the fee if you drive a car. You are supporting the state park that way and there is no confusion about whether you are legally in the park.


2. But I'll be sleeping in my car, not occupying a campsite!
We don't make the rules, we're just telling you what they are.


3. Can I bring my pet/dog?
To the park, yes - permitted in certain areas on a leash.  With the group, no unless you are sure you're willing to pay for the damage an out of control animal may do to equipment, people or the environment.

4.  I am on the waiting list, can I attend?
We will mark you as a no-show and bar you from future events if you do. 
For even more information about the rules we operated under at BANP see here.

 

5. I see someone dropped out, can I take their place?
Not unless you are the next person on the waiting list. It's rude to "cut in line".

 

6. If I have a yes RSVP and I don't show up, then what?
You will be marked a no show and barred from future events. Might even be kicked out of the group if it has been your habit.

 

7. I was on the waiting list (or I was a Yes), but my RSVP was changed to NO, why!?
Because you have a prior no-show.  You can rejoin the waiting list, but we'll keep moving you to the bottom.

 

8, Do Supporters get any preferential treatment for this event?
Yes.  22 of the 30 people are supporters.  Note: if supporters drop out, the numbers may change because whoever is next on the waiting list will take their place.

 

9. If I indicate how much I want to go, or plead for a spot will that help me get one?
No. Meetup doles out yes RSVPs on a first-come, first served basis.  We are glad you are eager, but we assume everyone who is desiring a yes RSVP is eager or they wouldn't be RSVPing.  If you are only lukewarm about it, don't RSVP.

Join or login to comment.

  • john c.

    this is a followup on your interests in this past meetup.
    how important was the view of the sunset?

    what were the good features of this meet?

    what could have been done to improve the meetup?
    also there was someone there that shot a 4 minuet exposure of the milky way with a polarie mount Sunday am I'd like to talk to you and Id like to see that picture.

    thanks

    if you have a comment but don't want it public mail it to me

    my login name here run together(no spaces) _AT_ google mail you know where that is if you don't want to go through meetup.

    I rely want to hear I am thinking about planning another one and want to make it as good as possible.

    good luck and good shooting


    John Cincotta

    March 13, 2013

    • marsha k.

      John, I would definitely go again. The venue was wonderful and offered a lot to explore day or night. I liked the camp grounds. Though I didn't pitch a tent, all the camp amenities were close by. As a lot of us spent the night, I hope the campers who weren't part of the meetup were not too disturbed by us running around at night. The sunset was beautiful; however the sunrise was equally as beautiful. All of the attendees had a lot to offer and I was particularly appreciative of the fact that Steven brought his telescope. It is amazing to look at the stars with that much magnification.

      March 13, 2013

    • voltaire

      Hi John! Below is the link on my website. The last three images will tell you what the different settings are with the Polarie. Hope this helps.

      http://www.voltaireya...­

      March 16, 2013

  • Vivian J.

    Really great shots, everyone! It's almost like being there, in spirit at least!

    1 · March 16, 2013

  • voltaire

    Hi John, that's me with the Polarie. I'm at work but can share the images I had with the four minute exposure. I should've tried half track because most of the trees were blurry. I'll try and post process this before Friday. Will PM you.

    Thanks,
    Voltaire

    1 · March 13, 2013

  • Fred C

    Nicely done, lots of info handed out.

    March 12, 2013

  • Laura Northrup P.

    This was a great meetup. Special thanks to John and Steven, and also thanks to everyone who showed up to share in a fun and inspiring night!

    March 11, 2013

  • Srinivas J.

    This was a awesome experience. Thanks John , Steven for you valuable inputs. Hope to see you all soon.

    March 10, 2013

  • Mean-fonn (Francis) L.

    learned a lots from john and steven. first time that I feel so closed to those stars. I would love to attend the next time right away.

    March 10, 2013

    • voltaire

      Hope to do some jaunts together, Francis. It was great hanging out with you. You have some amazing photos.

      2 · March 10, 2013

    • Srinivas J.

      Hi Francis thanks for your valuable inputs.

      1 · March 10, 2013

  • Srinivas J.

    I got my spot confirmed today. Can I carpool and share camp site with some one. I will share the expenses. I live in Sunnyvale.

    March 6, 2013

    • voltaire

      Hey Snrinivas, it was nice meeting you. Hope to see you more often.

      March 10, 2013

    • Srinivas J.

      Hi Voltaire, Nice meeting you too. Thanks for sharing the camp site and your valuable inputs.

      1 · March 10, 2013

  • Saket

    This was a great meetup. Thanks for organizing it John. It was a pleasure talking and learning from Steven. Thanks a lot for all your help. Hope to see you all soon on similar outing.

    March 10, 2013

  • helen t.

    hi
    i'm trying to upload my pictures but am not sure ow how to it. Where do i go to upload the picture
    Helen

    March 10, 2013

    • john c.

      go to the event page on the upper right just below the pictures there is a blue upload click on it and it will give you a dialogue to select the picture from your files(desktop) after that you have to give confirmation to upload it. after it has been uploaded it asks if you want to leave a comment/text to explain it(not required)

      March 10, 2013

  • helen t.

    It was nice to meet everyone. I need to learn the settings of my camera for to be able to do night photography

    March 10, 2013

  • voltaire

    As always this has been an outstanding meet up led by John and Steven. I always learn something new. Thank you Steven for the lessons and for sharing the big telescope. It was amazing to see Jupiter with its "stripes" and four moons, Andromeda and the refresher on Polaris.

    Thank you John for sharing this location with us. It is accessible and not too far. All the details on planning before this event was very helpful. I smiled a bit when you asked about ASA because it reminded me we both came from film.

    It was a pleasure meeting the people in this meet up. I hope to interact with all if you again in the future. There is no better way to share your passion than having a bunch of people who will skip sleep just to click. :-). So where was the barbecue? ;-)

    2 · March 10, 2013

  • marsha k.

    P.S. Steven, thanks for setting up and letting us get closer to the stars with your telescope. John, thanks for picking a very cool venue to get us a little closer to the heavens

    March 10, 2013

  • marsha k.

    What a wonderful experience. I really enjoy meeting, learning and photographing with all of the great people at this meetup.

    March 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very nice experience!!! Got first hand experience of night photography with so many cool people around. @Marsha, thanks for showing those hidden corners of the park. @Steven thanks for awesome tips and information about Milky way!

    March 10, 2013

  • AJ V.

    "my sleep"..:)

    March 10, 2013

  • AJ V.

    I would like to thank John and Joolz for organizing this event and to Steven and all the members who provided enough information - from parkingto weather forecast, etc. Great meetup-I can still see stars in sleep. Thanks!!!

    March 10, 2013

  • Cudacke D.

    Very cool experience

    March 10, 2013

  • john c.

    good learning experience

    March 10, 2013

  • Steven C.

    The weather forecast has improved dramatically! See all those dark blue spots in the Clear Sky Chart from 18 (6 pm) onward! BUT it will be windy. 10 mph winds are forecast and my experience is that mountain tops can be VERY windy. Make sure you have plenty of layers and a windproof outer layer. Also remember that while the temperature is forecast to go down to a low of 41, with a 10 mph wind, inactivity and no sunshine it will feel 15-20 degrees colder than that. Hats, gloves, extra layers are not JUST a good idea they may make the difference between being comfortable and being miserable.

    2 · March 8, 2013

  • jane c.

    speaking of folks "camping out" in their cars remember to bring Warm blankets, sweats, whatever-it's gonna be cold at night Inside the cars-see steven's chart above showing high 30's predicted
    and don't forget Food-cold and starving is not a good combo-bring plenty of drinking Water-never know what's available

    March 8, 2013

  • jane c.

    as per joolz info-thanks!-i reserved my own site,#5, as a "motorhome" and stated i will bring 2 vehicles-i was told by phone "motorhome" site qualifies to hold 2 vehicles but no tents-i have 1 vehicle, a vw bus-if someone wants to take the chance that this is accurate info you may join with 1 sleep-in vehicle and split fees-pls advise to me asap

    March 7, 2013

    • Steven C.

      See some discussion above. The "two vehicles" that are allowed on an RV/Motor home site are the RV and a trailer or legally TOWED car. I suspect they will not care if it is two cars - but I'm 99% certain that each car will have to pay a park entry fee. One entry fee seems to be included with the campground reservation.

      March 8, 2013

    • jane c.

      if we all pay then we all pay-it's too hard to decipher the written regs vs the live phone person regs-we just don't want anyone having to drive down that hill in the dark

      March 8, 2013

  • voltaire

    Anyone thinking about food? I'm assuming there's a grill and we can barbecue. Just a thought.

    March 8, 2013

  • Jing W.

    I have just reserved site #16 and will be driving from Cupertino @85+Stevens Creek. AJ is coming with me so I can offer two passengers for carpool and sharing six camping spots. No more car slot to share but the park's parking lot isn't far away.

    February 26, 2013

    • Jing W.

      Adding Laura. 3 spots left.

      March 5, 2013

    • Steven C.

      Peter K dropped out.

      March 8, 2013

  • Steven C.

    I have deleted comments from those who have left the RSVP list. So those who are left will not be confused about who is actually looking to share or carpool. If I deleted your comment incorrectly, please repost it.

    March 8, 2013

  • jane c.

    bonus:we might get to view comet Panstarrs!
    according to EarthSky.org:
    Starting about March 7, 2013. PANSTARRS will appear above the western horizon after sunset for Northern Hemisphere viewers. To see it, you will need an unobstructed, cloudless view of the west after sunset. It is best to pick a dark spot, away from streetlights. Look in the sunset direction, as soon as the sky darkens. The comet will be just above the horizon.

    March 7, 2013

    • voltaire

      Steven, would a supertele be helpful or is it just too far? See you Saturday!

      March 7, 2013

    • Steven C.

      I'm bringing my telescopes if that answers your question. No guarantee it will be visible, but I suspect so provided there are NO clouds in that direction.

      1 · March 8, 2013

  • helen t.

    If anyone lives near Salinas and wants to share a ride, i would either be willing to drive or carpool with someone

    March 7, 2013

  • helen t.

    Hi
    i am wondering where we will meet once we have arrived at the park
    Thanks Helen Thornton

    March 7, 2013

  • Joolz H.

    Re: 2nd car fee for campsite. Just spoke w/ Reserve America. The 2nd car fee is not the cost of another campsite. He said it was the cost of the regular park entrance fee - that also matches my own experience camping w/ friends at CA state parks. If you reserved a campsite in your name and are now no longer planning to attend, campsites are not transferable. You would need to cancel your res. (yes there's a fee) and the person sharing w/ you will need to book a site on their own.

    2 · March 7, 2013

    • Srinivas J.

      Thanks Joolz for checking with them. I tried xouple of times it went to voice mail.

      March 7, 2013

    • Steven C.

      Make sure that if you are the "second" on the site that you have the details *and the permit* for the primary. It's not unusual for campers to arrive at different times. The rangers don't want strangers claiming sites reserved by others. Since they post the NAME of the primary on the site, it's not enough to know the name.

      March 7, 2013

  • joy

    If you live in the Southbay, need carpool and plan to set up a tent, I have reserved #18, I can take one person. You can use my campsite, i will sleep in my car. The permit only allows one car per campsite. I will be leaving Sunnyvale between 2-3 pm.

    March 5, 2013

    • Srinivas J.

      Joy I am planning to drive and sleep in my car. Can I share use your campsite and pay the fee for the additional car? I will share the expenses.

      March 7, 2013

  • Sandeep U.

    I got confirmation last night. Can anyone share the campsite? Shall contribute to the charges. I plan to drive and sleep in the car.

    Any comments/suggestion most welcome!

    March 7, 2013

  • voltaire

    I got a late confirmation for this meet-up and there are no campgrounds close to where the group is (16-24) except for two other slots open for the physically challenged. The voicemail and the operator for Reserve America does not know how far campground 3 or 4 is from where most of you will be. Does anyone who is familiar with the area know? I'll just have to walk from our meeting point to my car but need to know how far it is especially walking back in the middle of the night. Thanks!

    March 6, 2013

    • voltaire

      I did that, Steven and even called them. The maps are not up to scale according to the person I spoke to. Not a biggie. See you Saturday.

      March 6, 2013

  • Daniela B.

    I am willing to give up my spot in favor to the waiting. I am in between switching to a new camera, and while I am awaiting my new one, I don't really _need_ to attend this event. Would someone be interested in taking over my car spot at my campsite? So far, only Jane is sharing the campsite with me (in her car). So there should be more space for a couple of tents. Let me know, in case you are interested.

    March 5, 2013

    • Saket

      I would love to as well if I make it from the waitlist.

      March 5, 2013

    • jane c.

      daniela, disappointed not to see you this weekend but i remember your set-up;exciting to anticipate new gear! will you pls copy me offline as well so i know how we'll do the campsite and to reimburse you for #22?

      March 5, 2013

  • john c.

    This is why the first comment I made way back when (Jan 19) is to carpool I just did a quick count of legal parking places and it is less than 40 not counting the camping areas. there are also about 5 handicap places as well. Also not because of the comets possibly visible at sundown. there will be astronomy buffs there also. So PLEASE try and arrange carpools I will be leaving from Sunnyvale via 85s about noon and am willing to take 1 person, I will stay all night.

    John Cincotta

    1 · March 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hello John, I will be happy to be carpooling with you. Let me know if place is still available. Shishir

      March 5, 2013

  • jane c.

    aside from camping discussion, what are peeps doing for photo/star trails prep?

    March 4, 2013

    • Steven C.

      @jane not sure what you're asking. Are you asking how to do star trails? I'll be glad to give some impromptu help on the topic at the event. Meanwhile here are some resources: http://blog.starcircl...­ and
      http://blog.starcircl...­

      March 4, 2013

    • jane c.

      @steven, yes, will gladly accept some assist on site, thanks, and will review your links

      March 5, 2013

  • Joolz H.

    If you're thinking of driving back down the road from the peak in the dark, rather than spending the night, do be aware that it's a long narrow road w/ steep drop-offs. Make sure you're well supplied w/ caffeine or whatever it takes to stay awake.

    March 4, 2013

    • john c.

      Also be advised that you may be in fog as you come down off the top. Its common in the summertime. Its been a while since I've been up there this time of year so I cannot make comment on the fog. John Cincotta

      March 4, 2013

    • Steven C.

      Crossing fingers hoping for HEAVY low fog. It kills the lights of the area and makes the sky much more interesting.

      1 · March 5, 2013

  • Deborah

    Is there a preferred campground or no?

    February 18, 2013

    • AJ V.

      I need a carpool. I'm from Berryessa, San Jose.

      February 20, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      @ Marsha: I finally have the confirmed participation. If your spot is still available, I will be very happy to share. I am also planning to sleep in the car only. Let me know. Shishir

      March 4, 2013

  • Cudacke D.

    Do I have to get the permit before the event or can I get it on the day of event?

    February 18, 2013

    • john c.

      no but if you are going for a camping site you may be aced out by someone who signed up on line

      February 18, 2013

  • marsha k.

    If we plan on staying past midnight, do we need to purchase the camping permit? or make camping reservations?

    February 15, 2013

    • john c.

      I believe so. but I don't know. definately if you are in the "camping area you will need one. and the ranger comes around about 10-11 pm (my experience) and checks on things.

      February 15, 2013

    • Steven C.

      YES. If you stay the night you must get a permit regardless of where you are in the park.

      February 17, 2013

  • marsha k.

    Hey all -- just a heads up on following google maps using the iPhone to get to Fremont State Park. I went up to this Park yesterday just to see what it looks like and to do a little hiking in a place I hadn't been before. I used Google maps for directions which were pretty straight forward; however, also used Google maps thru the iPhone for a turn by turn. The Google "lady" took had us turn off the main road on to a Road it thought was the way to Fremont State Park. The road was dirt and continued to climb and wind around and we're thinking no wonder some want to spend the night. Descending this road in the dark would have been a little nerve wracking. Finally hit a gate, had to back down aways to turn around and head back to the main road. Turns out that this little detour that we took courtesy of iPhone Google was in fact an old Fremont State Park Road. If you follow the main PAVED road all the way up you are in good shape. Park beautiful. Very excited about this MeetUp.

    February 17, 2013

    • Joolz H.

      Thanks for the info, Marsha!

      February 17, 2013

  • john c.

    I've called the ranger and not heard back so I fiogure it would
    be a good idea to carpool. I'm leaving from Sunnyvale and can
    take 1 person I will be staying all night.

    January 19, 2013

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