FIRST QUARTER MOON, MARS, SATURN AT SKY’S THE LIMIT

The public is invited for a tour of the lunar landscape, Mars and Saturn tonight, August 2 at Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center, just north of the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms. This free event begins around 8:20 p.m. and continues until approximately 1:30 a.m. A crescent moon will be followed by Mars and Saturn around sunset. A tour of lunar landscape at low and high magnifications will zoom in on the great craters. Mars is a large rusty orange disk through a telescope. Saturn, also fading slightly, is well placed for viewing at sunset. Later, after the moon sets at 11:30 p.m., the telescopes will turn to some bright open star clusters and nebulae in the Milky Way. Guests are invited to bring their own binoculars and telescopes. Pads are provided for telescope setup, and STL volunteers will make every effort to assist as needed in setting up and using equipment. All are encouraged to come around sunset to have time to set up and visit other campus educational attractions before the cosmic tour begins. Everyone should bring snacks, water bottles, chairs, and a small flashlight (red lens, no white lights please) and dress for unpredictable desert weather. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. No pets and no smoking allowed on the STL campus, and visitors must carry out all trash. The observatory may not be open during a scheduled event due to weather.

CAMPING DURING THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWERS

There are upcoming celestial events that may affect usage of Joshua Tree National Park.  Campgrounds are generally not full this time of year, but are expected to be fuller during the Perseid Meteor Showers which peak August 9-13.  Visitors are welcome to view the showers at various places in the park. Remember camping must be in a campground or in the backcountry by permit. A reminder that Ryan, White Tank and Belle Campgrounds are closed, as are the eastern half Black Rock, Loop B of Cottonwood and the eastern half of Indian Cove.  Hidden Valley and Jumbo Rocks are open. Campfires are only allowed in designated campsites provided with fire rings and you should never leave a fire unattended.  No other fires are permitted in the park.

FLASH FLOOD SAFETY TIPS

Every day at this time of year, there’s some chance of rain here in the desert.  Reporter Sara Snyder says, you should be ready for the consequences…

The Morongo basin is now in the monsoon season. And with monsoons, comes the very real threat of flash flooding. When rain threatens, the National Weather Service may issue flood watches or flood warnings. A flood watch means a flood is possible, while a flood warning means that flooding is happening or will happen soon. Reporter Sara Snyder offers the following tips to stay safe during flash floods.

In a flood situation, don’t enter the water. In fact, stay at least 10 feet away from the water’s edge. Don’t drive if you don’t have to, and don’t play or swim in a flood channel, and don’t try to walk or drive through a flooded road. The depth and speed of flood water is not always obvious, and you can’t tell what’s happened to the road surface under the water. Six inches of swiftly flowing water can knock you off your feet, and two feet of floodwater can carry away most vehicles, including pickup trucks and SUVs. Listen to Z107.7 for current conditions.

Reporting for Z107.7, this is Sara Snyder.

SCRAPPERS ARRESTED ON BASE

Two people were arrested Wednesday on the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center after they were found with scrap metals, weapons, and drugs. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant Robert Warrick, the base’s military police came across Strader Surratt, 29, and Ashley Dedrick, 22, both of North Carolina, on the base and noticed a portion of a helicopter rotor blade in the back seat of his vehicle. Surratt, who is formerly of Victorville, told the MPs that he had more scrap metal in his trunk. While searching his trunk, the military police found unexploded 50-caliber incendiary rounds, 30-caliber tracer rounds, 20-mm practice rounds, and a high-explosive 20-mm round, all of which are illegal for civilians to own in California. The Sheriff’s Department’s Bomb and Arson Squad was called in to confiscate and transport the illegal ammunition. After an investigation, Strader Surratt was arrested on suspicion of possession of a destructive device, burglary, and two counts of possession of stolen property. He was booked at the West Valley Detention Center with his total bail set at $175,000. Ashley Dedrick was cited for trespassing and released.

SUSPECT ARRESTED AFTER RAPE IN YUCCA VALLEY

On Thursday, July 31, Deputies S. Ables and R. Lomeli responded to a residence in Yucca Valley for a rape investigation. The 59 year old victim called to report she had been raped at her residence on July 25, by a male she only knew as Carlos. During the interview with the victim, deputies were able to positively identify the male suspect as 31 year old Carlos Flores of Yucca Valley.

Deputies made contact with Flores at his residence in Yucca Valley. During their contact with Flores, deputies were able to obtain sufficient evidence to support the victim’s allegations . Deputies Ables and Lomeli subsequently arrested and booked Flores into the Morongo Basin Jail for rape, with a bail amount set at $250,000.00.

SHERIFF’S DUI CHECKPOINT IN TWENTYNINE PALMS SATURDAY

The Twentynine Palms Police Department will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint this Saturday, August 2, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. at an undisclosed location. Officers will be contacting drivers passing through the checkpoint and looking for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Officers will also check drivers for proper licensing and will strive to delay motorists only momentarily. Drivers caught driving impaired can expect jail, license suspension, and insurance increases, as well as fines, fees, DUI classes and other expenses that can exceed $10,000. If you see a drunk driver, call 9-1-1 to report them.

PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES OFFERED

Our desert night skies present sights worth preserving photographically.  Reporter Cara Conway opens up her f-stop…

Capture our desert through your lens! Joshua Tree National Park is offering courses in Fine Art, Night Sky, SmartPhone, and Desert Photography! Enhance your photography skills by working with professional photographers and instructors who will allow you to discover what has been hidden before your very eyes! Classes range from $60 – $160 and begin September 19, continuing on various weekends through December 6. For exact dates, courses and registration call 760-367-5535 or visit www.joshuatree.org.

WRITING COURSES OFFERED

One way to capture the desert experience is to write about it.  Reporter Cara Conway opens up her notebook…

Write your heart out! Joshua Tree National Park is offering courses in Desert Haiku Writing, Observational Writing, and Unique Desert Writing! Grab a friend and enroll today in these content rich workshops geared toward embracing the beautiful landscape of our National Park. Experienced instructors encourage you to explore your creative energy and transform your experience into one on paper. Classes range from $60 – $235 and begin September 13 through October 12. For exact dates, courses and registration call 760-367-5535 or visit www.joshuatree.org.

UPSTREAM IN FREE SUMMER CONCERT IN YUCCA VALLEY TONIGHT

Get your reggae on at the Yucca Valley summer concert tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker says attendees will be jammin’ to the Caribbean sounds of Upstream…

The Town of Yucca Valley’s Summer Music Festival continues with the band Upstream scheduled to play on Saturday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m. Upstream has been spreading their message of love and positivity through their exhilarating Caribbean music for about 20 years. Through the years they have mesmerized audiences throughout the world with a multi-talented line up of some of the most experienced and enlightened musicians in their camp and have released six CDs. Come prepared to dance and have fun with this Caribbean styled band. All concerts will be held on the Yucca Valley community center ballfield; gates open at 6:30 p.m. and concerts start at 7 p.m. You may bring your own food, but there will also be food vendors.