Public Star Parties are held during the dark of the moon at the Association's observing site at Tierra Del TDS ConditionsSol.The schedule for these parties maybe found in the Events section of this website. The Club's 22-inch LippRitchey-Chretien reflector, as well as its newly acquired 8-inch D&G refractor, are available for club members and hosted during Public Star Parties for visitors.

Lipp Telescope SDAA Member John Rains hosts the 22-inch Lipp telescope at a recent Public Star Party. The telescope is open for viewing on every star party weekend.

Observatory Director Ed Rumsey periodically hosts a training class. You must be a contributing member for one year to qualify as a host, but anyone can attend the class. Hosting the telescope on the Public Star Party nights has several advantages--it gives you an opportunity to get to the site and use this fabulous instrument; an opportunity to interact with other club members; and most important, it provides one of the most valuable services the SDAA provides--bringing the night sky to the public. The look on a neophyte’s face or the glint of sheer joy in a child’s eye when they see the massive instrument for the first time, and then get to look through it at the wonders of the heavens, cannot be described. It must be experienced first-hand. If you are interested in hosting or are a host, contact the Observatory Director.

Tierra del Sol site access, rules, and lock combinations are in the newsletter sent to all members. Hosts on public nights and members are responsible for seeing that the last person out locks the gates, turns off the electricity and water pump, secures the bathroom, and empties the trash.

A panoramic view of the Tierra del Sol public pads area, showing the north and south pads and parking areas.

Private pads, areas where contributing members can have a private setup area, are located in a separate portion of the Tierra del Sol property. To get on the private pad list, send an e-mail to the Private Pads Chairperson ( or see the Contacts section of this website). If you have a private pad, consider sharing it with another member. Click here for photos of the Private Pads.

Quick instructions for entering and leaving TDS:

Enter TDS:

    1. Unlock padlock and open the gate
      • Twirl padlock numbers after opening. Do not leave combinations showing.
    2. On off-nights when usage is low, close the gate and loop the chain loosely around the gates, lock the padlock to the other lock
    3. Go right to the "Electric and Water Pump house"
    4. Turn electric power on - unlock padlock
    5. Turn water pump on - unlock padlock


Exit TDS:

    1. Find out if you are the last person
      • Drive around Public pad and Private pad as indicated - yellow lines - in a map
      • Look for people or cars
      • When you drive up (east) the private pad road, check the Observatory area also for any cars
    2. If you are the last person, shut down TDS - always twirl the padlock numbers after locking
    3. Stop at "Electric and Water Pump house"
      • Shut water pump first
      • Shut electric power second
    4. Drive to the Public Pad area
    5. Lock the pedestrian gate between the observatories and private pads
    6. Drive to the Public Pad area
    7. Lock the pedestrian gate between the observatories and private pads
      • You may do this during the private pad drive-through
    8. Close up the Warming Room - turn the refrigerators to 'Off' and leave the fridge doors open, turn off coffee pots, fans and lights
    9. Lock the gate between the warming room and rest room.
    10. Lock the restrooms - men and women. Check that lights are turned off.
    11. Exit from Main gate, close gate and place padlock.
      • Close and lock the front chain link gate. Make sure to DAISY CHAIN the padlock to the (CalFire/SDGE) lock.
      • The (CalFire/SDGE) lock allows local utilities to gain access to the site in emergencies.
      • Close the pipe gate and loop the chain to provide the appearance of being secured.

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Directions to Tierra del Sol
Directions for getting out to TDS, where to park at the site, plus a Stary Party Survival Guide. (PDF, 130Kb)

Rules for the Tierra del Sol Observing Site
List of general guidelines for conduct at Tierra del Sol and other SDAA properties. (PDF, 84Kb)

Tierra Del Sol Instructions
Step-by-step instructions for opening and closing the Tierra del Sol property. (PDF, 60Kb)

Live Weather Station at TDS
Weather Underground station on Mike Chasin's pad at TDS

Sky Quality at TDS
TDS Sky Quality Meter Readings (Sky Brightness)

Rules for Star Parties
San Diego Astronomy Association Rules for Star Parties at TDS and other locations. (PDF, 82Kb)'s Star Party Survival Guide
Useful tips to help make the most of your Star Party experience. (PDF, 11Kb)

Observatory Training, Use and Responsibilities Policy
Policy for the training and use of the 22-inch Lipp telescope. (PDF, 78Kb)

Lumicon NGC Sky Vector Guide
Manual for operating the Digital Setting Circles on the Lipp 22" Club Scope (PDF, 144Kb)

Tierra Del Sol Site Plan
Latest CAD drawing of the Tierra del Sol site, including all fixed features and Private Pad Sharers. (PDF, 142Kb)

Tierra Del Sol RV Rules
Rules for Recreational Vehicle (RV) use at the Tierra del Sol observing site. (PDF, 61Kb)

Instructions for setting up the 8” D and G Telescope
(PDF, 50Kb)

Musselshell Observatory Guide
Directions for building the MusselShell Observatory (PDF, 371Kb)

SDAA TDS History
History of the Tierra del Sol Observing Site(PDF, 622Kb)