Stargazing in Joshua Tree NP

That was the plan

The new moon being this weekend, we planned an outing to Joshua Tree National Park to look at the stars. Away from city lights, you can see many more stars than from other places, and the isolated, other-worldly environment makes it all the more special.

view of Joshua Tree NP

As we did for comet watching last year, we stopped off at KFC in Yucca Valley to pick up some buckets of chicken. The smell drove us fairly crazy while we made the rest of the trip into the park. But when we arrived at our anticipated viewing station, the place was swarming with bees. Plan B! We drove further down Geology Tour road to a pull-out and set up a bee-less base camp. Unfortunately, that condition didn't last long. The little rascals came buzzing after us anyway.

view of Joshua Tree NP

After feasting on chicken, we broke out the champagne and some Oreo cheesecake from Manhattan in the Desert. (It was good, but way too rich.) Life is good when you can top off a picnic in the desert with champagne and cheesecake.

But what about the star-gazing? Due to a collision of weather systems from the west and east, it was overcast or cloudy, depending on when you looked. Although a few bright objects did peek through, it was not the kind of night when a thousand points of light sparkle in an inky-black sky. Not to fear! Ken brought his laptop with various star-chart programs and pointed out where the stars, planets, and constellations would have appeared if we could have seen them.

But what the heck? We had a great picnic and a good time with our friends. For more pictures, check the slideshow (sidebar).