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Observatory -  Astrophotography - Stargazing Glampground - Hot Tub - Under the dark skies of California's Eastern Sierra!
Observatory - Astrophotography - Stargazing Glampground - Hot Tub - Under the dark skies of California's Eastern Sierra!
96 backers pledged $12,302 to help bring this project to life.
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Eastern Sierra Observatory & Stargazing Glampground

$12,302

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STRETCH GOAL - $11,500

If we can make it to $11,500, then we'll include 4 total folders from our website in the Digital Prints Package, which is included with any pledge of $20 or more. (Folders included are Great Lick Refractor, Total Solar Eclipse, Astrophotography, and future images take at the ESO - DarkSkyPhotography.com)

AND

We'll create a commemorative care package for all visitors who book a stay through this project! Postcards, sticker, and 8x12 print are some things that initially come to mind... and we'll see if we can come up with anything else to throw in.

All additional funds raised from here on out will go towards the general costs of the observatory as well as telescope accessories which will be anxiously awaiting your use.

Bring your personal DSLR camera when you visit and we'll throw it on this amazing telescope for some of your own astrophotography!

Or, just take some of ours home!

***All backers who pledge $50 or more will receive digital prints of the images captured with the telescope AS WELL AS 10% off any future stays at the observatory FOR LIFE!

Dark skies... huge Meade telescope... SHIFTPODs... astrophotography... hot tub... come visit!
Dark skies... huge Meade telescope... SHIFTPODs... astrophotography... hot tub... come visit!

The Project:

California's Eastern Sierra has some of the darkest skies in the country, along with breathtaking scenery of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and surrounding valleys -- not to mention the Inyo and White Mountains! In 2017, we obtained a rugged, 20 acre old gold mine sitting at about 6000 feet above sea level just outside of Bishop, CA. Although rough and Mars-like, this plot of land offers jaw dropping views of the Eastern Sierra, and an amazing array of overhead skies at night.

With this piece of land, we have set out to create something which we've always dreamed of -- a small observatory along with a stargazing camp-glamp-experience if you will! Stargazing GlampBNB! We intend to host singles, couples, groups, etc., for nights of observing through a 14" Meade LX850 telescope, the option to bring your own DSLR camera to capture astrophotography with our help (our use our camera), relaxing in lounge chairs with binoculars in our stargazer lounge, sitting in the hot tub under the stars, and sleeping in an amazing SHIFTPOD furnished with comfy memory foam cots. It's going to be a one of a kind stargazing experience! To make things even better, we're being sponsored in part by both SHIFTPOD and Meade Instruments as they are both excited about helping to create this unique experience as well!

California's Eastern Sierra features some of the darkest skies in the country
California's Eastern Sierra features some of the darkest skies in the country

In addition to hosting the general public by reservation, the Eastern Sierra Observatory (ESO) will also be used for nighttime photography workshops hosted by various photographers, a stargazing resupply service for JMT and PCT hikers, and down the line we plan to offer elementary astrophysics bootcamps and labs for anyone who wants to have some fun and explore the Universe a little closer!

Most dates offered will be Friday and Saturday nights which fall around new and first quarter moons, and special astronomical events such as meteor showers.  If weekdays are better for you - no problem - we are extremely flexible and can offer those too! We plan to begin hosting guests in late April 2019, and every month thereafter. Attendance sizes will range from one to three SHIFTPODs worth of people (2-3 per POD) per night.

More pics of the land:

The location is just a 15-20 minute drive from Bishop, California, which is about 200 miles from Los Angeles or Las Vegas (~3.5 hr drive). In addition to its super dark skies and amazing views, this place is also an incredible sunrise and sunset factory, and almost always clears up at night. There are also countless other adventures in the area as the Eastern Sierra is California's adventure side! Visit EasternSierraNevada.com to learn more about the area.

Facing south toward the Palisade Glacier at sunset
Facing south toward the Palisade Glacier at sunset
Sunset over Bishop and the Eastern Sierra
Sunset over Bishop and the Eastern Sierra
Testing out the night at the ESO
Testing out the night at the ESO
Palisades twilight
Palisades twilight
SHIFTPODs are the coolest tents on Earth
SHIFTPODs are the coolest tents on Earth
Sunset/Moonset over Bishop
Sunset/Moonset over Bishop
A waxing gibbous moon rises over the ESO
A waxing gibbous moon rises over the ESO
Did we mention there are a ton of cool rocks laying around?
Did we mention there are a ton of cool rocks laying around?
Sleep on a luxurious memory foam cot in a super cool and spacious SHIFTPOD
Sleep on a luxurious memory foam cot in a super cool and spacious SHIFTPOD

Your contribution:

We already have the land, and we're already well underway converting it to a rugged, Mars-like observatory, but we'd love your help to obtain a much better telescope -- the Meade 14" LX850! This instrument features an onboard auto-guiding system which will allow us to track and image the nighttime sky with ease, and the 14 inch diameter will produce brilliant images of the cosmos. Since the groups we'll be hosting will be on the smaller end, everyone will get to enjoy the technology of this 'scope to the maximum. If you have a DSLR and bring it with, then we can help you attach it to the telescope to take some pics through it! The naked-eye observing will be absolutely stellar as well. The total project will cost more than our $8500 goal, but we've already got the rest covered. Our much appreciated partnerships with Meade and SHIFTPOD will help a great deal as well.

Behold! The Meade 14" LX850 with Starlock integrated auto-guider!
Behold! The Meade 14" LX850 with Starlock integrated auto-guider!

Rewards:

Postcards: We have many remaining postcards from our previous projects featuring nightscapes in the Eastern Sierra and Grand Canyon. We'll drop a few of them in an envelope and send them to you blank and unused. Thanks for your support!

***Add postcards to any pledge of $20 or more for an additional $6

Digital Prints: The digital prints package includes hi-res digital prints of the images in our "Astrophotograpy" folder on our website DarkSkyPhotography.com. Also included is any images we capture with the telescope in 2019.

Prints: We are offering any image from our website DarkSkyPhotography.com printed on high quality lustre photo paper, or metal (lightweight aluminum) infused prints with a floating mount hanger. Your prints will be shipped within a month if we hit our goal! All prints also include the Digital Print Package. If you'd like to wait a little longer and get an image that we capture with new telescope, that is fine too!

Books: We have 40 remaining copies of our 2015 coffee table book The Range of Light: Night & Day on the John Muir Trail -- A nighttime chronicle (and some day shots too) of our journey on the 211 mile John Muir Trail. These books are signed and ready to ship, and this pledge also includes the Digital Print Package.

Observatory Stay for One (One or Two Nights): Join us at the Observatory & Stargazing Glampground! We'll accommodate you in your own SHIFTPOD with a comfy cot for a night or two of stargazing, telescope observing, and astrophotography. And yes -- we have a hot tub too! You'll also get the Digital Print Package.

Observatory Stay for Two (One or Two Nights): Join us as guests at the Observatory & Stargazing Glampground! We'll accommodate two people (or three for an additional $75) in a SHIFTPOD with comfy cots for a night or two of stargazing, telescope observing, and astrophotography. And yes -- we have a hot tub too! All guests also get the Digital Print Package.

Economy Family Stay (One of Two Nights): Join us at the Observatory & Stargazing Glampground! Accommodations include up to two adults on cots and two children in your own sleeping bags on the the floor in a SHIFTPOD. You'll enjoy a night or two of stargazing, telescope observing, and astrophotography. And yes -- we have a hot tub too! All guests also get the Digital Print Package.

Economy Group Observatory Stay: We can house up to 15 people if you're willing to forgo the cot, bring your own sleeping bag and pad, and sleep up to 5 per SHIFTPOD. It works just fine... just a little more economy style! All guests also get the Digital Print Package. For multiple nights please contact us.

Group Observatory Stay: We'll host your group of up to 9 people for a night under the stars. You'll sleep 2-3 people in three SHIFTPODs, and enjoy all the amenities of the ESO. For multiple nights please contact us.

If you choose to join us at the observatory, you'll have a number of dates to choose from as your voucher will never expire! We'll be offering visits one or two weekends per month indefinitely, and we can also accommodate you during weekdays if you prefer -- we're very flexible! 

***If you're coming to visit us and want to add on a book or print, just add the following amount to your pledge:

The Range of Light: Night & Day on the John Muir Trail - $45

Prints:    8x12 - $20      12x18 - $50      16x24 - $100      24x36 - $150

Message us for international shipping rates or if you'd like to upgrade to a metal print.

Sample Dates:

Please keep in mind that we are willing to work with you to visit on other dates that aren't listed here as well -- just let us know when is good for you and we'll figure something out! Most of the dates listed are weekends but we are also available on weekdays. Remember that since you booked your stay through this project, your voucher will never expire, and you'll enjoy our clear sky guarantee -- if for some reason we can't use the telescope due to weather when you visit, then you'll get to come back another time for free! We don't anticipate having to use this as the skies are clear over here more often than not, but it's an added protection for you to be sure that you get to experience this stargazing adventure to the fullest!

  • April 26th, 27th - Last quarter moon
  • May 4th, 5th, 6th - Eta Aquids Meteor Shower
  • May 10th, 11th - First quarter moon
  • May 31, June 1st - New moon
  • June 7th, 8th - First quarter moon
  • July 4th, 5th, 6th - Holiday weekend
  • August 9th, 10th - Perseids Meteor Shower
  • August 30th, 31st, September 1st - Labor Day New Moon
  • September 27th, 28th - New Moon
  • October 4th, 5th - First quarter moon
  • November 11th - Mercury transit
  • November 29th, 30th - First quarter moon
Come and join us for a night of stargazing!
Come and join us for a night of stargazing!

Our previous work:

We have successfully completed six previous Kickstarter projects which have produced a vast collection of astrophotography and nightscapes. See some examples below, or check out our whole catalog at DarkSkyPhotography.com. Any image from this website can be used as your print selection, or, you can wait a little longer and select an image which we capture with the telescope. We have also had the honor of being published in BBC Sky at Night magazine twice -- once for the Great Lick Refractor project and the other for our hike along the John Muir Trail, as well as several other publishings and sponsorships which we have enjoyed.

Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula
The Pleiades
The Pleiades
M33 - The Pinwheel Galaxy
M33 - The Pinwheel Galaxy
Double Cluster
Double Cluster
Trona Pinnacles
Trona Pinnacles
Muir Hut along the John Muir Trail
Muir Hut along the John Muir Trail
Milky Way over the Grand Canyon
Milky Way over the Grand Canyon
Moon rising over the Grand Canyon
Moon rising over the Grand Canyon
Venus transits the Sun
Venus transits the Sun
The moon imaged with the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory
The moon imaged with the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory
The Ring Nebula imaged with the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory
The Ring Nebula imaged with the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory
In 2017 we had the honor of using the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory
In 2017 we had the honor of using the 129 year old Great Lick Refractor at the Lick Observatory

...and more at DarkSkyPhotography.com 

Other Attractions in the Area:

The Eastern Sierra is California's adventure side! There are endless trails to hike and cool places to explore, not to mention delicious food and breweries. Sandwich your visit to the ESO with some other nearby adventures! See the pics below for some examples, and visit EasternSierraNevada.com for a complete guide.

Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes
Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes
The highest peak in the lower 48 -- Mt. Whitney! (Near Lone Pine)
The highest peak in the lower 48 -- Mt. Whitney! (Near Lone Pine)
Hiking trails for days in the Eastern Sierra
Hiking trails for days in the Eastern Sierra
The Alabama Hills (Near Lone Pine)
The Alabama Hills (Near Lone Pine)
The Ghost Town of Bodie (Near Lee Vining)
The Ghost Town of Bodie (Near Lee Vining)
The oldest trees on the planet -- Bristlecone Pines! (just above the ESO!)
The oldest trees on the planet -- Bristlecone Pines! (just above the ESO!)
Mono Lake and its Tufa formations (Near Lee Vining)
Mono Lake and its Tufa formations (Near Lee Vining)

...and much, much more!

Risks and challenges

There aren't many risks associated with this project as we've completed several previous Kickstarter projects and therefore know what to expect and how to get it done. If for some reason there is a delay in the opening of the Observatory, rest assured that your visit will be accommodated as soon as possible and your voucher will never expire. Prints, postcards, and books will be shipped within a month if we're successfully funded.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Postcards

    A "handful" of postcards featuring dark sky images we've previously captured from the Grand Canyon and Eastern Sierra - FREE SHIPPING

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Digital Prints

    Receive digital prints of our "Astrophotography" folder on DarkSkyPhotography.com, as well as any images we produce with the telescope in 2019.

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    11 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    EARLY BIRD 8x12 inch print

    An 8x12 inch print of your choice from any image on our website DarkSkyPhotography.com -- You'll also receive the digital prints. Free shipping to the U.S.

    ***Add $35 to upgrade to a lightweight aluminum infused metal print with floating wall hanger

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    8x12 inch print

    An 8x12 inch print of your choice from any image on our website DarkSkyPhotography.com -- You'll also receive the digital prints. Free shipping to the U.S.

    ***Add $35 to upgrade to a lightweight aluminum infused metal print with floating wall hanger

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Range of Light Coffee Table Book

    A signed copy of our 2015 book Range of Light: Night & Day on the John Muir Trail - A nighttime photography chronicle (and some day shots too) of the 211 mile John Muir Trail in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. These are the last copies we have! You'll also receive the digital prints package.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    12x18 inch print

    A 12x18 inch print of your choice from any of the images at DarkSkyPhotography.com. You'll also receive the digital prints package.

    ***Add $55 to upgrade to a lightweight aluminum infused metal print with floating wall hanger

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    16x24 inch print

    A 16x24 inch print of your choice from any of the images at DarkSkyPhotography.com. You'll also receive the digital prints package

    ***Add $55 to upgrade to a lightweight aluminum infused metal print with floating wall hanger

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Observatory Stay for One

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your night, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy a night of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! Check in time approx 3pm & check out the next morning at approx 11am -- requested custom arrangements can also sometimes be accommodated. You'll also receive the digital prints package.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    24x36 inch print

    A 24x36 inch print of your choice from any of the images at DarkSkyPhotography.com. You'll also receive the digital prints package.

    ***Add $55 to upgrade to a lightweight aluminum infused metal print with floating wall hanger

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    Pledge $225 or more About $225

    Observatory Stay for Two

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your night, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy a night of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! Check in time approx 3pm & check out the next morning at approx 11am -- requested custom arrangements can also sometimes be accommodated. You'll also receive the digital prints package. ***Add $75 to add a third person to your party

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Two Night Stay for One

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your nights, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy two nights of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! You'll also receive the digital prints package.

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    3 backers
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    Pledge $275 or more About $275

    Economy Family Stay One Night

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! Accommodations include up to two adults on cots and two children in your own sleeping bags on the the floor in a SHIFTPOD. You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your night, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy a night of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! You'll also receive the digital prints package.

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    3 backers
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Two Night Stay for Two

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your nights, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy two nights of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! You'll also receive the digital prints package. ***Add $150 to add a third person to your party

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    5 backers
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Economy Family Stay Two Nights

    Be among the first attendees to our Observatory & Stargazing Mars-like Glampground! Accommodations include up to two adults on cots and two children in your own sleeping bags on the the floor in a SHIFTPOD. You'll have access to choose from many dates in the future to reserve your nights, and this voucher will never expire. We'll be hosting up to 9 people at a time. We'll begin with first come, first serve, based on the order of pledgers in this category. Numerous dates will be offered throughout the future to accommodate everyone. Enjoy two nights of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in one our amazing SHIFTPODs! You'll also receive the digital prints package.

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    0 backers
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    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    Economy Group Observatory Stay

    Have a large group of up to 10-15 who are willing to go economy style? You'll still enjoy a night of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in our amazing SHIFTPODs, but you'll bring your own sleeping pad and bag and sleep 4-5 people per SHIFTPOD rather than the regular 2-3 on cots. A great option for groups of kids or close friends who want to keep it cheap. We'll work with you to determine what date you'd like. This voucher will never expire, and your group will also receive the digital prints package upon your visit. For multiple nights please contact us.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Group Observatory Stay

    Want to take over the entire observatory with your group of up to 9? You'll enjoy a night of stargazing with our awesome Meade telescope and accommodations in our amazing SHIFTPODs, sleeping 2-3 people in each one on cots. Hot tub, starry nights with the 'scope, SHIFTPOD livin' -- we'll work with you to arrange the date of your group stay, and this voucher will never expire. Your group will also receive the digital prints package upon your visit. Contact us if you have more than 9 people and we'll see what we can do. For multiple nights please contact us.

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Funding period

- (34 days)