Pinar de Araceli, Summer 2011

Published on September 12, 2011

September 2011

If you’ve been following my whereabouts when I go to Spain to do astrophotography (usually during summer time and Christmas), you probably know that Pinar de Araceli is my favorite location. I actually feel privileged because this being one of the darkes sites in Spain and being at a decent altitude (1680 meters / 5,511 feet), it’s only a “short” 1:45 drive from my home here in Spain (Murcia) without speeding too much (speeding limit in Spain’s highways is 120km/h or 75mph, so that helps a bit).
This past summer I visited Pinar de Araceli 6-7 nights, and although I didn’t take many images of the scenery, I did manage to take a few, and I decided to write this small photo-documentary, hoping to transmit a bit of the experience, although of course, as with any photograph, nothing beats to actually being there.

Most of the nights, my SQM easily reached 21.7 which I consider pretty good and average for the site. Anyway, here’s the report… Enjoy!!

The road to Pinar de Araceli from Murcia – where I live when I’m in Spain – is quite comfortable for the most part. Lots of highway and only for the last 20 minutes, climbing up the mountain, it gets narrower and winding, but nothing we’re not used to, right? This photo below is actually from the easier part of the drive to the top, but I like the stone-made blocks at the side of the road.

By taking a quick detour, you go through narrow roads such as this one…

…that’d take you to a nice vista point of La Sagra, a 2,383 meter (7,811 feet) mountain peak formed mainly by limestone and loam. Beautiful in winter when it’s all covered in snow, can’t keep up with the hot summer months. It looks like a peaceful, nice mountain top, but it’s not always like that (check this video on YouTube from a few guys at the summit during less than ideal conditions).

Following the detour to La Sagra, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, this house appears. It has a name but forgot… No, it’s not a Mission. This is Spain, not California 🙂

Only 4km from El Pinar, you find a sign telling you that you’re 27km from Nerpio. Why do I mention that? Well, if you’ve ever used any of the GRAS telescopes, you probably know that the scopes they have in Spain they’re actually in Nerpio. Guess it’s also kind of like “you’re in dark skies country” zone or something 😉

Once at the Pinar, you see some of the famous cabins. They have about 20 of them…

It’s getting late, so we’d better start setting up!

So here’s my gear in front of the cabin, one of the nights I was up there all by myself.

And here’s another photo of my setup capturing photons!

I couldn’t leave without taking a photo of the majestic Milky Way and the cabin. This was actually on a night when there were several of us doing our thing…

As the Sun starts to rise, some amazing colors make you feel the night was good, and worth the trip.

Here’s a few photos I took going back home one of the times I went there. This one is at one of the peaks, at around 1600 meter high (5,250 feet), right before sunrise:

And what do you know… Once you’re out of the sierra, on the way from La Puebla to Caravaca… Fog!! Yeah, we get that here too 😉

If you’re like me, and tend to head home around sunrise, on the way back you may get rewarded with some nice vistas such as this one…

Or this one…

Then… Back to reality! It was good to be there. Hope to be back soon!

Published on September 12, 2011

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