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Locations: Fremont Peak

Elevation: 2800 feet (853 meters)
Location: 5-6 miles South of San Juan Bautista, California
Darkness: Yellow/Green zone. Can probably get to "blue" quality when fogs rolls in. I've never taken SQM readings at Fremont Peak.
Best sky: It depends.

Fremont Peak, with an elevation of 2800 feet (853m), is famous for its often great seeing and its "dark cloud nights", especially in summer, when the fog completely covers the surrounding cities, leaving the peak in absoulte darkness.

When the fog doesn't do its trick, the Peak is also a good location, although there'll be light domes in nearly every direction. There are three areas where one can setup its telescope: Coulter row, Southwest lot and "the pads". The pads can only be used for observing/imaging by members of the Fremont Peak Observatory Asociation (anyone can join) and offer several platforms with electrical plugs - ideal for astrophotographers. There is also a small observatory run by the FPOA with a 30" reflector.

Although none of the three setup areas offer low horizons all around (ok, the Pads get pretty close to that), the Peak is still a nice place for astrophotography and visual astronomy. The bad part for me? I need to drive about 90 minutes to get there, and if I'm going to drive 90 minutes, I might as well drive two hours and go to darker sites such as Deep Sky ranch or the DARC Observatory, or cut it short to one hour and just go to Henry Coe for similar sky quality. So despite its often excellent seeing, I don't go to the Peak very often, although some people do.

Like Coe, one can usually go up to Fremont Peak any day of the year, although a call to the rangers is often necessary. Some years, access has been restricted during the winter months, and only FPOA members can access the site at night.


A view from the summit at Fremont Peak. This is what you want to see before sunset when you go there to observe or do astrophotography! Lots of fog and all below you! That little road is the ranger's house, the observatory and the pads.

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