Sunday, July 23, 2017

New moon, Big Hill Lookout in the El Dorado National Forest, and a visit with the Milky Way.

The youngest daughter and I went up to the Big Hill Lookout last night, just to the west of Ice House Reservoir in the El Dorado National Forest, to do some night photography, as it's a new moon and very dark.

Got there early, with about an hour and a half of light left.  Fortunately, the smoke from that Detwiler Fire was in a long strip to the west, over the valley, and it was nice and clear up in the pines.

Below, a view of Union Valley Reservoir and the rolling hills of this part of the forest

30 miles away to the south east, Round Top where Highway 88 crosses Carson Pass, our normal area of operations.

Directly east of us, the Crystal Range, starting with Pyramid Peak on the far right, bathed in alpenglow.  Just over those mountains is Desolation Wilderness, and just beyond that, Lake Tahoe and finally, just beyond the curve of the Earth, the Silver State, Nevada.

Getting dark, and the daughter adjusts her gear.

Wonderful blue as the light fades behind a lonely pine.  We painted the tree with a weak flashlight to make it pop out a little.

The Milky Way streaks across a wheeling sky.  Campers fires light the night below at Union Valley.

One of the towers at the lookout reaching up towards the Milky Way, with lights from the central valley of California behind.  The streak of dark orange just above the horizon is the smoke cloud from the Detwiler Fire far to the south in Mariposa County.

Got back to the house at about 1:30 in the morning.  The air up on the lookout was cool and pleasant, a nice change from the burning heat during the day.  All in all, it was a productive evening out with the kid, and we learned some tricks to make the night sky look good. 


  1. Sounds like you both had a great time. I like these examples of good parenting.


  2. Great trip, great family time. Thanks for taking us up there with you.