Joshua Tree Astronomy Trip

Saturday, November 7, 2015

We headed out to the GMARS facilities from November 7th to the 8th to partake in their star party. Hiking during the day, observing stars and nebulas by night. We all had fun, even in the freezing weather.

Find our pictures on Flickr!

2015.11.08 - Caltech OSA trip to GMARS

Event information

I’m keeping this for organizational purposes.

Head out to Joshua Tree with us and observe the stars. We’ll be hiking during the day and stargazing at night. It should be blast!

We are camping at the GMARS facilities and we will be joining their star party.

We current have around 40 members of the Caltech community joining us!!! This will be a great chance for you to meet other members of the Caltech OSA Club or members interested in the club and talk about events that you would like to help organize at Caltech.

Carpools will be organized to ensure that everybody can come to the event. You should have received an email with a link to a document containing those details.

If you have a telescope, you are encouraged to bring it along.

We still need astronomy leads! We are looking at you astrophysicists ¬_¬. Anybody who has operated telescopes before or knows about the night sky is welcome to be an astronomy lead. Let us know if you are interested by email.

If you cannot make it anymore, please let us know as soon as possible so we can let somebody on the waitlist join us.

We’re going be meeting at 8am on Saturday November 7th in the parking lot just north of Beckman Auditorium (the big wedding cake) to start our trip.

Volunteering roles available

Please let us know if you are willing to help with any of these roles. We will try to spread the load around so let us know all the tasks you are willing to take on.

Liability Waiver

Please understand, you will not be able to participate in the California Institute of Technology/Caltech Optics Club Joshua Tree Trip if you do not bring this signed waiver with you on Saturday Nov. 7th before our departure.


We are providing

You should bring

Showers will not be available, we will be camping after all.

We will have access to restrooms at the campsite.



Friday Nov. 6th

Select volunteers meet to pick up equipment from the Caltech Y at 3:00 pm.

Saturday Nov. 7th

Time Activity
8:00 am Meet at the Watson Parking Lot just north of the Beckman Auditorium (Wedding Cake)
8:30 am Depart for the GMARS camping site
11:30 am Setup tents and cook lunch.
12:30 pm Head out to hike in Joshua tree.
5:00 pm Head back to the GMARS facility.
5:30 pm Prepare dinner
8:00 pm Relax and enjoy the stars for the rest of the night

Sunset is at 6:11 pm.

Sunday Nov. 8th

Time Activity
7:00 am Approximately wake up.
8:00 am Cooks cook food. Others pack up tents.
10:00 am Head back to Pasadena.
1:00 pm Arrive back at Caltech.

Monday Nov 9th

Select volunteers meet to return equipment from the Caltech Y at 9:00 am.

Volunteer information

Thank you again for helping out with this trip. It would not be possible without you. If you are coming to the trip, we can always use your help. Feel free to shoot us an email stating what you would like to help with.

Hike leader information

Hike leaders, thank you so much for volunteering to lead hikes. The plan is to leave GMARS after lunch around 12:30, go to Joshua Tree, hike, then be back by 5:30. That should give everyone roughly 4 hours of hiking in Joshua Tree.

We’re going to have four hiking groups. If you and your coleader could confer, choose a hike that fits the time constraints and the strength of your group, that’d be greatly appreciated. Make sure you have driving directions to your trailhead to give to your driver. You should bring a map and compass, as well as extra water in case someone in your group forgot it. If anyone has questions or needs help, please let me know.

Driver information

However, you need to be Caltech approved drivers, which consists of getting a simple DMV check on your license. Please go to the Dean’s Office and see Judy Young with a copy of your license as soon as you’re able.

On the trip, please make sure you know who’s supposed to be in your car and that they’re with you when we leave campus, GMARS, and Joshua Tree. Driving directions to GMARS are here. Google Maps says the drive should take about 2:30. Your hiking leaders should be able to direct you to the proper trailhead within Joshua, but for reference, here’s a map of the area.

Thank you very much for driving. We should be able to reimburse each driver $50 for gas. We will need your UUID number so that we can get you reimbursed.

Equipment pickup

If you volunteered to pickup information, please met us at the Caltech-Y at 3:00 pm on Friday Nov. 6. The plan is to throw everything in Mark and Jeremy’s cars. Equipment will them be redistributed on Saturday Nov. 7 when we all meet together.

Equipment dropoff

This one is a little more complicated. We need to pitch the tents for the Caltech-Y so that they can check their integrity. The plan is to meet at 8:30 am on Monday to start pitching the tents before the Caltech-Y staff gets there at 9:00.

We have borrowed 6 tents!!! Volunteers would be greatly appreciated for this part, even if you can only help for a little.


We will provide the food. You will have to make sure it doesn’t burn.


This event is going to be loads of fun. We (the club) would like to have a lasting memory of the event for promotional purposes. This helps us ensure that we can keep organizing events like this. If you are a photographer, please take many pictures during the trip and send them to Mark after the trip. We will then share them with all the participants.

Astronomy Leads

People can turn to you to ask you questions about the night sky. That is all.

We will have a Celestron-8 inch telescope from the Cahill Rooftop Observatory.

We will also have two telescope binoculars with us.

Some people in our group will be bringing their own scopes too. If you want to bring yours, please do.

Sign up – Closed :(

We have had so much interest recently that sign up is closed. If you are still interested, let us know, and we will send you an email if space opens up.

Contact Mark or Jeremy if you are interested.

We will rent camping equipment (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent) from the Caltech Y for you do not have any.

Please state the following in your email: