10 Ways to Escape into the Wild Lands in O.C.

#9: Stargazing – Search the Skies

In The Sky
Illustration by Tara Hardy

Illustration by Tara Hardy

Less light pollution at The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo makes searching the heavens more rewarding.

The Reserve is a little-known patch of protected open space along Ortega Highway that has been set aside as the Rancho Mission Viejo Company creates new development. Now almost 6,500 acres, it eventually will grow to nearly 21,000 acres. Each time the company completes a commercial development, it sets aside more land as wild habitat.

The Reserve’s ambitions are growing as well, from the rare hike, lecture, and event to a livelier schedule. The night activities are especially worthwhile because, away from the coastal fog and at least some distance from street lights, the evening sky is darker there, the stars more prominent. During the summer, there are occasional bat hikes, which tend to fill up early. Monthly astronomy hikes on Saturday nights during the new moon are much easier to join.

Amateur astronomy buffs set up their telescopes for all to use. They point out the constellations and talk about the various celestial bodies. On particularly good nights, you can make out the Milky Way.

Good to Know

➔  Open to children 8 and up
➔ Pre-registration required; directions provided after registration. $5 children, $10 adults. Red-lens flashlight only. Bring beach chairs and a jacket.
➔ Programs take place at different sites at The Reserve, near San Juan Capistrano, 949-489-9778, rmvreserve.org/calendar/