Above: Boondocking at the SETI Array, Hat Creek Radio Observatory, California
The time-lapse of your camper at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory is simply amazing. Tell us about that experience.
That was so cool! It’s also another example of reaching out to an organization and hoping I could get a hold of somebody. I emailed the folks at SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and showed them some of my work. I threw out the idea that I could do a time-lapse at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory.
The facility is open to the public, so it was okay that I was there. However, being able to stay overnight was the question. I linked up with an astronomer who was working there overnight on a weekend. He invited me to stay.
As long as I wasn’t interrupting their work, they allowed me to park the rig in the dish field.
“It was awesome to see the dishes move as they tracked an object, to see the Milky Way rise over the dusk, to see planes and stars, and then the morning light again.”
I only had one camera at the time. Luckily I had a Goal Zero battery to extend the battery time of the camera. I wish I could have started the time-lapse earlier in the day, but I was touring the facility. Then I got set up, had dinner, and talked about astronomy with the astronomer who invited me out. After that I walked back up to my camper and enjoyed the night.
I was able to capture a day-to-night and back-to-day time-lapse. It was awesome to see the dishes move as they tracked an object, to see the Milky Way rise over the dusk, to see planes and stars, and then the morning light again. It was an amazing experience.
Above: Karl G. Jansky, Very Large Array, New Mexico
Have you visited any other space or science facilities during your travels?
I have been to several observatories as a visitor for their night sky programs. I will volunteer to help with projects they are working on. There are a couple in California that have photographer nights. They have a ticket system that’s a little expensive and selective. I would love to do that, but the timing has not worked out yet.
Above: Very Large Array, New Mexico
I spent a couple days at the VLA, or Very Large Array. It’s a radio telescope array in New Mexico. That is an experience that anyone can have, which I highly recommend if you are mobile and in New Mexico.
Go out and see the VLA facility and take the public tour. Also, there is a turnoff there where you can stay the night. Being out there late and watching the Milky Way is awesome. The dishes are huge and create a totally cosmic perspective. If you are into space, the night sky, photography and science, it’s a great free destination to visit.
It’s great to be able to stay in my truck camper in remote locations. For night sky lovers, a lot of states have off-grid areas including BLM and national forest. Being mobile and having your home with you gives you flexibility to do those things.