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 the links above, and you really don't need to bring much of anything. But here are some things to consider:
Except for during the height of summer, it can get quite chilly at night in the high desert (or even during the day in winter). Even when the daytime is bright and warm, temperatures can drop by 30-40°F shortly after sunset. Always check the weather reports and be prepared to dress in warm layers. Don't forget the long-johns, heavy socks, gloves, hat, warm shoes or boots, and a good jacket. In a pinch, you can find a loaner jacket in the clubhouse.
Don't get caught in the desert with just flip-flops or sandals, especially in the dark. There are creepy crawlies including scorpions and stink beetles.
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.
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 in case you can't get a concrete pad and need to set up on the desert sand.
Staying the Night?
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.
Also, you are free to use the kitchen facilities like the refrigerator, microwave, stove, toaster, and coffee makers. 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 a little (or a lot) cash in the donation jar at GMARS that allow us to make these amenities available.
So, now you know the details and have no excuse for not making a trip to GMARS!