Cancelled – Turner Mountain Public Night

//Cancelled – Turner Mountain Public Night

Cancelled – Turner Mountain Public Night

August 9, 2013 @ 8:00 pm – August 10, 2013 @ 3:00 am
Turner Mountain
The Plains
Arlen Raasch
By | 2013-08-08T13:27:08+00:00 January 9th, 2013|5 Comments

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  1. Arlen Raasch July 25, 2013 at 10:26 am

    This weather permitting event is open to the public, I ask that you RSVP if you intend to come so we can plan parking spaces and have adequate supplies on hand. Please send me a short RSVP email to if you plan on attending well in advance of the Friday August 9th date so we can be sure to have the site ready for you to attend. If something comes up that keeps you from coming to the event after you RSVP, that is fine, we just want to make sure we have things set up to handle the people that plan to attend, and to do so we need a rough estimate of the number of people to plan for.

    The site is atop a beautiful mountain with great views of the surroundings during the day, and given clear skies, it offers excellent views of the sky at night.

    We will be grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, please bring a dish to share with others as well as something to quench your thirst.

    We will be offering safe solar viewing through telescopes during the day, and will have several telescopes to look through at night. If you have a scope or pair of binoculars, please feel free to bring them. If you have questions about how to use or set them up it is quite likely that those in attendance will be able to answer your questions.

    This site has no paved road access, and is on a mountain, as such driving to the top may be a new experience for some. The road is driven by school buses, passenger vans, cars, etc. daily so it can be done, but it is not a flat paved road by any means.

    The road to the site is steep in a few places and is a cinder road which then turns into a unimproved dirt road that leads to the site. If you drive a low-rider car, you will want to ride with someone else. If your car has bad brakes, you will want to ride with someone else. If you have a car with normal ground clearance and in good mechanical condition you will get to the site just fine, but you will have to drive carefully and skillfully on the mountain roads.

    The general idea is to keep the car always moving forward on the steep parts of the mountain road, the cinder roadbed has some washboard bumps that add to the challenge, but you can do it! Just keep your speed in the 10 to 15 mph range uphill and you will do fine. If you allow your car to stop forward progress in the steepest section of the road, you may find it difficult or impossible to gain enough traction to get going forward again. That is why you want to keep your speed in the 10 to 15 mph range uphill.

    Once you get near the top of the mountain, the terrain levels out and the road transitions from cinder, to gravel, to an unimproved dirt road. There are a few ruts in the unimproved dirt road but you can avoid bottoming out by not driving so your wheels are in the ruts.

    I will be posting details on exactly which roads to drive on to get to the site, and be posting signs to aid you in finding the observing site.

    So, please RSVP if you plan to attend, we look forward to seeing you at Turner Mountain!

    If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at


    Arlen Raasch
    Turner Mountain Site Coordinator
    Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)

  2. Arlen Raasch July 27, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Several people have emailed me their RSVP already!

    The site has had its first mowing in preparation for places to set up telescopes and park cars.

    A few people asked questions about how hard the drive up the mountain would be for their cars. To help people better see what the road is like, I took some videos which show the road conditions.

    This shows the roads leading to Turner Mountain Road from The Plains:

    This is driving up Turner Mountain Road:

    This is driving down from Turner Mountain:

    Sorry about the wind noise.

    Hope this helps,

    Arlen Raasch
    Turner Mountain Site Coordinator
    Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)

  3. Dave Hudson August 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm


    Thank you for all the great information. I’m so excited I’m like a kid waiting to open his birthday presents!

    The weather looks iffy at the moment. Do you think the event will still be held?


    • Arlen Raasch August 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

      As with all astronomy events, weather is always a factor that we cannot plan for. Currently the weather is not looking good for the event, but this may change.

      I will be keeping a close eye on the weather and will post a notice here and to the NOVAC email listserve on the day of the event to give the official go/no-go for the event.

      Arlen Raasch
      Turner Mountain Site Coordinator
      Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)

  4. Arlen Raasch August 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I have been keeping a close eye on the weather and at this time have decided to cancel the event for Friday August 9th at Turner Mountain.

    The forecast is calling for at least a 50% chance of thundershowers during the event time window, with very high humidity and light winds. At a minimum this will likely result in poor sky observing conditions, but the prospect of having lightning in the area of a public event is an obvious concern. The weather is associated with a slow moving trough that is currently not forecast to clear the area until late Saturday night, so it is highly unlikely in my opinion that things will improve in the near term.

    We will attempt to hold a similar event at the site later on this year, so please stay tuned.


    Arlen Raasch
    Turner Mountain Site Coordinator
    Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)

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