We will be viewing the Perseid meteor shower and camping at the top of Harquahala Peak at the site of the old Smithsonian Observatory. There will be a few adventurous souls that will be hiking the old pack trail at night.
Those coming from the North will meetup at the Costco in Prescott at 3 pm.
Harquahala Peak, at 5681 feet in elevation, is the highest point in southwestern Arizona. From the top of the peak – located in the Harquahala Mountains, about 90 miles west of Phoenix – you can see California 75 miles to the west, Nevada 110 miles to the north and Mexico 120 miles to the south. Even today, the vistas are usually clear, free of air pollution.
The elevation and clear air led the Smithsonian Institution’s Astrophysical Observatory, in 1920, to choose Harquahala Peak as a site to build Harquahala Peak Observatory for studying the sun. Compared with today’s earth-orbiting observatories and Mars rovers, the instruments employed by the scientists on Harquahala Peak seem primitive. They used a theodolite – a simple surveying instrument – to measure the sun’s altitude above the horizon; a pyrheliometer – a temperature measuring device – to gauge solar energy at set intervals; a pyranometer – an electrical instrument – to measure the heat of the solar atmosphere; and pens and pencils – not computers – to process raw data. Until they could string a telephone line, they used a heliograph (signal mirror) for communications. The scientists had to hike three hours to reach the mountaintop facility. They had to use burros to pack construction materials, supplies, water, equipment and instruments up steep slopes to the site. Once they compiled their observations and calculations, they sent them to Washington, where other scientists could compare the results with those from another solar observing facility and use them in to develop forecasts of the nation’s weather. The Smithsonian used the facility for about five years before it transferred the operation to Table Mountain, California. Today, all that remains of the original facility is a single, dilapidated tin-sided building resting on a stone foundation.
Meet up: At the Costco in Prescott at 3 pm.
**There are inherent risks and dangers while off-roading. SUMMIT 4×4 Club is not responsible for any and all risks of injury, harm, medical conditions, or property damage to participates. All participants (on behalf of him/her self and his/her minor children) are responsible for their own safety and assumes all liabilities, and waives any and all damages against SUMMIT 4×4 Club (including its organizers, hosts, sponsors, and members).**