Club Observing Sites
Star party etiquette
We recommend arriving before its completely dark, no later than about 1 hour after sunset, and please no bright lights. if you must use your cellphone, please dim it to the maximum. Avoid any bright white flashlights around our telescopes... you'll find if you let your eyes adjust to the ambient lighting, you can see quite well. if you must use a light, keep it aimed down at the ground in front of you, or better yet, use a flashlight with a red light like this.
Monthly meetings - Santa Margarita community room Scotts Valley
Our meeting location and date is the Santa Margarita Community Room at the Scotts Valley Water District, 2 Civic Center Drive, Scotts Valley. This is a very nice meeting room with a modern smart TV A/V presentation system. Meetings are always on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00pm (board meeting preceeds the general meeting at 6:30pm)
Directions: Take Highway 17 to Mt Hermon Rd, turn right on Scotts Valley Drive, turn left on Civic Center Drive (just past Malones Grill but on other side), turn right into the Scotts Valley Water Districts parking lot, drive down the hill and park near the top of the large lot behind the building, we're in the big meeting room on the lower ground level floor. There's another access to this parking lot directly on Scotts Valley Drive, but its not marked, you'll figure it out the first time you visit.
Quail Hollow - Felton/Ben Lomond
Quail Hollow Ranch County Park is the former summer home and horse ranch of the Lane family of Sunset Magazine fame. Santa Cruz Astronomy Club conducts star parties once per month at Quail Hollow.
The Ranch is off Quail Hollow Road, which connects between Zayante Rd and Glen Arbor Rd.
We set up in the overflow parking area, which is to the right of the road just before the white fence. please park in the regular visitors parking to the left of the road, unless you're setting up a telescope with us..
From Santa Cruz: Take Graham Hill Road towards Felton. Just past Roaring Camp, turn right on Zayante Rd. A little past Trout Farm Inn, turn left on Quail Hollow Rd, and turn right into the ranch, if you have a telescope and are arriving before dark, setup along the white picket fence in the overflow lot on the right of the road. If you are a visitor, use the main parking lot on the left, by the visitors center.
From the Bay Area: Take Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz. Take the Mt Hermon exit in Scotts Valley, follow Mt Hermon through Scotts Valley, past the quarry, all the way to the end. Turn LEFT onto Graham Hill Rd, At the next light, turn Left onto Zayante Rd, A little past Trout Farm Inn, turn left on Quail Hollow Rd, and turn right into the ranch.
Monthly star parties are held in Bonny Doon for club members only. Email the club google forum for more information.
Yosemite - Glacier Point
Every summer the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club packs up our telescopes and camping gear for a trip to Glacier Point in Yosemite National park. It's a fun weekend of observing and sharing the night sky with park visitors from all over the world.
If you are interested in attending this event sponsored by the park, please check out the files listed below the map. 2024 is tentative and still being planned.
In the Glacier Point Star Party FAQs (Frequently Answered Questions) document below you can find:
A history of the Glacier Point Star Parties
How the club dates are assigned
Getting into the park
Bridalveil Creek Campground
The Star Party
Maps of the campground site
Map of Glacier Point parking and setup area
Volunteer Service Agreement form. Please fill out and bring to park. A ranger will collect them from us at Glacier Point.
Google Map location of Bridalveil Creek Campground: https://goo.gl/PBwLuP
Glacier Point is at 37.727777,-119.572937 (or, 37° 43.66' North, 119° 34.38' West), 7200' elevation. Google view of observing area: https://goo.gl/NfkhCh
Henry Cowell State Park - Felton
This site is only available after sunset when there is a scheduled star party. Visitors are welcome, regular state park day use fees apply, please use the "iron ranger" if the kiosk is closed, or put your state park pass on the dashboard. if you aren't bringing a telescope, please park facing away from us to minimize headlight glare when you leave, thanks!
Enter via the park's main entrance on highway 9 just south of Felton. There is no access to this part of the park from Graham Hill Road other than driving to Felton, turning left at 9, and a mile or so later, left into the park.
pay day use fees at the kiosk or iron ranger, continue straight to the main parking lot. We setup in the north corner of the main parking lot ... if you are visiting, please park a little ways away from us, with your headlights pointing away so you don't blind us when you leave.
Pigeon Point - coast north of Santa Cruz
We occasionally meet at Pigeon Point for various events. Email us for more information or watch the calendar.
Skypark - Scotts Valley
Though this is not an official star party site, we include it here for completeness. Skypark is an old airport off of Mt Hermon road. Though there are plenty of lights around from encroaching development and vehicles, it's still a Bortle 5 place and the horizons are pretty good. If you are looking for a convenient place to test new gear, it's OK, and there are plenty of places you can set up. It's open 24/7.
Directions: take Mt Hermon road and turn north on Kings Village Road, then left at the "T". In a hundred or so feet, there's a parking lot on your left. If you want an address to plug into your phone, use 361 Kings Village Rd, Scotts Valley, CA.
Other sites used by club members
Outside of Santa Cruz county, there are various sites within easy driving distance for day trips. Email us for more information.
Pinnacles National Park - both the east and west sides offer the best viewing within a short drive of Santa Cruz county. The recommended west side (2K feet elevation) is about 1.75 hours away from Santa Cruz. Take 101 to 146 east in Soledad. Park in the parking lot just past the entry booth for best horizons, or at the end of the road, the Chaparral trailhead. Bortle 4. No camping but you can stay as long as you like. The entry gate MAY be closed by 8PM but you can leave anytime. The east side is further away but offers camping, and you get there from highway 25. Visitors, including astronomers, must pay day use fees (unless you have a national park pass). Fees are currently $30 for a vehicle. Stay away from the visitor contact station building after dark, it has a bright motion sensor floodlamps that won't shut off for 20 minutes.
Fremont Peak - FPOA club place near San Juan Bautista, and you need to be a member. A Bortle 4 site, conditions vary based on whether the surrounding valleys are fogged in. The nicely paved and incredibly twisty road ends at Fremont Peak State Park, and the observatory, behind a locked gate, is near the end. About 1.25 hours from Santa Cruz. Take 101, to 156 towards San Juan Bautista, then south on San Juan Canyon / Alameda road.
If you frequent the Google group The Astronomy Connection (TAC), you'll learn about other places in the bay area, including Dinosaur Point at San Luis Reservoir, Lake Sonoma, Henry Coe State Park, Coyote Lake, and several others.
After the CZU Fire, Little Basin is closed until further notice.