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Map and directions to the Vekol site.

Vekol road is a popular site used by many observers from Phoenix, but also makes a good winter observing site for observers from the Tucson area, being located on the low desert this site will be 10-20 degrees warmer than the higher elevation Tucson sites and can provide comfortable winter observing with good skies. The 1.5 hour run straight out I-10 and I-8 makes for an easy drive, easier than the Phoenicians who access the site via many miles of two lane state highway.

The site is located almost due south of Phoenix and some of the northern sky is lost to the the lights from this large city. But there is nothing to the south of the site but the enormous and undeveloped Tohono O'Odham reservation. Surrounded by ranch lands and agricultural fields the site has next to nil nearby light sources. And since most of the interesting observing is to the south this is nearly ideal.

This low altitude site offers comfortable winter observing with temperatures that will just flirt with freezing a few nights of the year, but summer temperatures can be oppressive, better to seek higher elevation. Check a weather forecast for Casa Grande if considering using the site.

Dean Salman setting up for a night of photography at Vekol

Surrounded by completely undeveloped land for many miles the site is quite dark and there are no towns of any substantial size to the south for upwards of 50-100 miles. The huge amount of light put into the sky by Phoenix is strictly in the northern sky, leaving most of the sky in good shape. Some light from nearby Casa Grande can be seen to the northeast. There are no local lights aside from fellow observers. The site is located just far enough off the road that passing headlights should be little issue. In any case a passing vehicle is a rare thing on this isolated desert road.

Security is the main concern here. The road is a public road, lightly traveled, but open to all. Like any north-south road it can be a corridor used by smugglers coming up from the border to the interstate. Be careful when observing alone! On a good weekend observing night you will most likely have the friendly company of other observers using the site.

A typical winter observing outing to Vekol.