Here are some of the observing sites used by SJAA members and other amateur astronomers around the Bay Area.
Houge (rhymes with "Yogi") Park is in San Jose, near Campbell and Los Gatos.
From Hwy. 17, take the Camden Avenue exit. Go east 0.4 miles, and turn right at the light, onto Bascom Avenue. At the next light, turn left onto Woodard Road. At the first stop sign, turn right onto Twilight Drive. Go three blocks, cross Sunrise Drive, then turn left into the park.
From Hwy. 85, take the Bascom Avenue exit. Go north, and turn right at the first traffic light, onto White Oaks Road. At the first stop sign, turn left onto Twilight Drive. You will now be passing the park. Turn right at the first driveway, into the parking lot.
Between the parking lot and tennis courts is a strip of grass where public star parties are held. The meeting hall is directly ahead (south) of the parking lot. There are restrooms on the other side of the the hall.
Grant Ranch County Park is located on Mt. Hamilton Road, which is also Hwy. 130, leading to Lick Observatory.
From Hwy. 101 or Hwy. 680 take the Alum Rock Ave exit east. 2.2 miles from 680 turn on right (south) Mt.Hamilton Rd. (Hwy. 130) and go 7.7 miles to the park, on the right. (Mt. Hamilton (Lick Observatory) is 11 miles farther.)
If you're starting from south of 280, take the Tully Road east exit from Hwy. 101. Turn right on Quimby Road which curves around Eastridge Shopping Center. Continue over the hill and back down (about 6.5 miles). Turn right on Mt. Hamilton Road. Grant Ranch is on the right just 0.2 mile from the intersection.
After entering to park follow the main road to the tee; turn left into the parking area where the observing session is held. There is a $2 fee.
Note that the park closes at sunset and you will not be able to get in at night except for officially scheduled events (usually organized by HVAG) or by special arrangement with the ranger.
Henry Coe State Park is located east of Morgan Hill in the Hamilton Range.
Go south on Hwy. 101, past San Jose toward Morgan Hill. Take East Dunne Ave. Follow it east, past Anderson Reservoir, up the mountain for 12 miles. Eventually you'll cross a cattle guard, then an additional half mile brings you to a sign identifying the Park, and immediately afterward on the right, a parking lot; this is the SJAA observing site. The main park and campground are a half mile farther on. The park fee is $5 per vehicle, payable in the drop-box at the park entrance. PLEASE NOTE that the Coe star parties are lightly attended, so there may be nobody there, even when the weather is favorable.
Fremont Peak State Park is south of the village of San Juan Bautista.
From Hwy. 101, about 11 miles south of Gilroy, take the eastbound Hwy. 156 exit, towards San Juan Bautista. Go 3.0 miles, to a traffic light, and turn right onto county Hwy. G1 (San Juan Canyon Road). The traffic light is labeled "The Alameda". Go straight through the next intersection (don't turn left here) following a sign to the park. After a quarter mile or so, the road forks. Take the left fork. It then immediately forks again, this time go right. You should see a small brown sign saying "Fremont Peak State Park 11 miles." The road follows up the canyon and the winds up a ridge into the park.
The park charges a $3 use fee for day use, $7 for camping (the fee for astronomy is $3 unless you set up a tent, etc.; sleeping after observing in or next to your car doesn't count as "camping"), payable in any of several drop-boxes.
There are several areas within the park used by astronomers. Except for winter months, the Observatory is the contact point for SJAA activities at Fremont Peak. Check in there to find out who and where to meet. But note that only FPOA members are allowed to setup behind the ranger's house or next to the observatory. (In all cases, please be careful with your headlights.)
At first, of course, you'll want to have others around to lend a hand as needed. But feel free to go to the parks on your own time, as they are open to the public. One needn't attend the club function; go where you feel you'll get the most from it. Be aware, though, that the locked gates and closing times will apply, and the special arrangements are usually available only with prior arrangement. You might ask the ranger if he will put the SJAA lock in the gate for you, but don't be upset if he declines.
Maps are availble from the SJAA web site, www.sjaa.net.
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