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A Successful Night Under The Stars

Last month, we opened the gates to Mountain Meadow Preserve (MMP) for our first-ever Stargazing Fundraiser event. MMP is owned by the Conservancy and San Diego County Parks and Recreation and is normally closed to the public.

We huddled under the starlight with hot cocoa, as representatives from the San Diego Astronomy Association and Chris Olivas from High Tech Middle North County led a tour of the galaxy. Telescopes provided an amazing view of Venus, an unusually dim Betelgeuse, and galaxies far… far… away!

The first new moon of the year provided us with a beautiful view of the expansive night sky, as did the ridgetop of MMP, which was an ideal location to avoid light pollution. Six telescopes were scattered around the red-lit platform—one even had an attached viewing screen! Guests were able to move between the telescopes and talk to our passionate astronomers about unique orbits, atmospheres, and even the Fermi paradox—which is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life and the high probability of their existence. All funds raised went to the Eichen Education Fund, which supports the Conservancy’s expanding education programs that bring nature to over 10,000 people annually. A huge thank you to all the astronomers who volunteered their time for this event and to all of our guests who joined us.

A photo of the famous Orion Nebula (located below Orion’s Belt in the constellation Orion) and Running Man nebula taken by Chris Olivas. This star nursery is over 1,600 light years away and is 30-40 light years in diameter. This photo was shot using an 8” Schmidt Cassegrain Edge HD telescope and Sony A7Sii camera mounted. It’s a stacked image of 80 exposures, 15” each at 40000 ISO.

To view more of Chris’s work, please visit or follow him on Instagram

If you’re interested in supporting our education programs, click on the link below to donate!