Riverside Astronomical Society—Outreach, star parties, dark sky site, and you!

GMARS: Goat Mountain Astronomical Research Station

Your First Visit

If you've never been to GMARS you might be wondering how to get there, what to expect, and what to bring. Just about everything you need to know about visiting GMARS can be found in this section (see more links to the left), and you really don't need to bring much of anything. But here are some things to consider:

RAS signs sprinkle the California high desert in Landers.

Weather & Appropriate Clothing
As you might imagine, summers are quite hot at GMARS. Daytime temps can reach well over 100°F. Evening temps may get into the 60s or 70s but sometimes they may not drop below the 80s.

Don't get caught in the desert with just flip-flops or sandals, especially in the dark. There are bugs, scorpions, lizards and snakes in the desert. Really. I've seen each of them.

Winter days may see highs only in the 40s and lows in the 20s! For cold weather, be sure to dress in layers. Don't forget thick socks, gloves, a beanie or hat, sweaters, jackets, etc. Wear the clothes you need to stay warm before you get cold — it's more difficult to get warm if you allow yourself to get cold. In a pinch, you may be able to find a loaner jacket in the clubhouse.

Red flashlight
Part of every amateur astronomer's arsenal is a red, LED flashlight. If you only have a regular, white-light flashlight go ahead and bring it. We can cover it with red cellophane that we keep a supply of in the clubhouse. Always keep flashlights pointed down and away from peoples' faces. Small keychain red lights might be available as loaners. If you borrow one, please return it.

Astronomy Equipment
You actually don't need to bring any binoculars or telescopes if you're new to the hobby or don't want to lug anything out. The club has a 22" Dobsonian telescope that's usually set up during star party weekends. Of course, since Outreach is our middle name, you can also spend the evening looking through other people's telescopes.

But if you're a seasoned mobile astronomer, you probably have a routine down and a list of stuff to bring on your trips. If you're new to this, it's easy to forget things. Everyone's equipment is different so there's no way we can provide you with an exhaustive list, but we can offer this advice—before heading out, set up at home for an observing session as though you were heading to a remote location. Try to do that a couple times before your first actual trip. This will get you familiar with everything you need and the amount of time you'll need to set up and break down.

Astronomy "Related" Equipment
Don't forget the tools, power extension cord (AC power is available throughout the telescope field), and a table and chair. It's also a good idea to bring a remnant piece of outdoor carpet or a tarp in case you can't get a concrete pad and need to set up on the desert sand.

It's also important to bring a red screen filter or laptop tent. You will not be well-received if you're on the telescope field and you don't cover up your bright laptop screen.

Power & Amenities
As previously mentioned, the telescope field has AC power outlets located throughout. These outlets are for telescope-related equipment, phone/tablet charging and small electronics only! Electric space heaters, RVs, electric/hybrid vehicle charging, and other high-current uses are not permitted!

There are two houses at GMARS, each with running water and electricity. Feel free to use the restrooms and to use the kitchen appliances (refrigerator, microwave, stove, toaster, and coffee makers)—just be courteous and be sure to clean up any mess you make. There are basic supplies like utensils, paper plates, cups, napkins, and pots & pans. You'll also find drinking water, sodas, coffee, hot chocolate mix, and snacks. It's members and visitors like you who drop some cash in the donation jar at GMARS that allow us to make these amenities available.

Staying the Night?
Mystery sleeper in one of the GMARS bedrooms Bring what you would need as though you were going on a camping trip: sleeping bag, toiletries, etc. There are beds available on a first-come, first-served basis. The beds are set up next to each other, dormroom or hostel style. If you're a sensitive sleeper you might want to bring earplugs and an eyemask... or seek alternative sleeping arrangements, such as in your vehicle, outside on a cot, or in a tent.


So, now you know the details and have no excuse for not making a trip to GMARS!