The Death Valley is a great place to stargaze. Many Astronomical events take place there. I am aware of several events that took place around New Year time usually, and got invitations few time to attend star parties (Stargazers and Astronomers meet up events).
A little journal entry were written earlier in this Log Book of the weekend of February the 15th and the 16th of 2013, right after the Chelyabinsk meteor event, or more accurately, the Chelyabinsk meteoroids event since the debris from the meteor has reached the surface of the planet Earth.
The journal entry was about the road to the Death Valley, and the night in which the Star Trails photo was taken. The journal entry can be viewed here.
The night of observation on the 15th near my yellow tent was beautiful, with little light pollution which is something expected in this national park.
The night featured the planet Jupiter next to the star Aldebaran of the constellation Taurus, the bull, following the beautiful young Pleiades. The observation was made with the aid of 100 mm binoculars that gave me splendid view of the Andromeda Galaxy.
This view always remind me of the Arabic old mythology version of the night sky where the star Aldebaran is an old shepherd man following the teenager Pleiades and trying to merry her by giving her his sheep. The sheep represented in the story as the star cluster Hyades. The exact translation of the word Aldebaran from Arabic is not really the follower, but more like the planer, the person who plan a strategy that no one else know about, and in the story, the strategy is following the Pleiades. The word stalker is better used as a translation than the follower since stalker plans his strategy, and makes sure no one know the plan, until they capture what they stalk.
Which in other topic, the Sun might be part of this cluster Hyades due to the proximity of the cluster distance and star composition to the Sun, and the share of the motion trajectory in space. Although the mythology was created, or borrowed long time ago, the story is not much different from today understanding, at least in term of age. Aldebaran is an old star that used up most of its hydrogen fuel and starts to burn Helium. The Pleiades is young star cluster that might not even be bright enough to see when the dinosaurs were around.
The hunter, Orion Constellation and his dog, Canis Major constellation are following the stars mentioned earlier making this typical winter night sky view.
The next day was spent hiking around the geological featured of the Death Valley such as Red Cathedral which featured beautiful red rocks, Zabriskie Point with its black peak in the middle of yellow golden hills that feature the Golden Canyon trail, and the lake which called Bad Water.
The lake is mostly dry, and has considerable amount of salt, and happens to be the lowest known surface in North America.
At the end of the day, I was so dehydrated, even when I drank about 3 liters of water. Yes it was winter, and there were clouds, but it was still hot, and the air near the surface is very dry.
Before I went back to Los Angeles, I took a moment to visit the sign of the national park, and observed again the Andromeda Galaxy and took a photo with them all in the same frame.
Some of the clouds survived the mountain range from the west and were heading to the east. Their shape showed the effect of the low pressure and temperature of the mountain peak, where they moist into clouds, and going back to the lower elevation where they start to dissipate. I framed this with a photograph that included my car.
February 15th & 16th – 2014
The Death Valley, California.