Rhyolite Breccia High Peaks West Valley College




General Information

Welcome to Astronomy and Geology at the Pinnacles National Monument

This is a two-unit course with a credit / no-credit option. One unit in Astronomy and one unit in Geology.
The course has six on-campus meetings that cover trip logistics, lectures, planetarium observations, and post-trip course summary (three geology and three astronomy). The remaining course time is completed in the field at Pinnacles National Monument in a two-night camping trip (Note: camping fee required dependent on number of students enrolled). Typically, we arrive on a Friday around 5:00PM when we set up telescopes for astronomical observations. On Saturday, we make geology observations of stratigraphic units and geologic structures found at the Pinnacles National Monument from the Bear Gulch Visitors Center to reservoir: see Pinnacles National Monument in 3-D. On Sunday at 10:30AM, we search out the basement, granitic units along Chalone Creek.

On Friday and Saturday nights, we setup telescopes and have evening lectures before our astronomical observations. We make night-sky observations up until mid-night both nights.

The geology section provides an introduction to the study of the geologic development of the San Andreas Fault in space and time with emphasis on tectonic setting as indicated by the igneous rocks and associated faults exposed in the Pinnacles National Monument. A background in Earth Science is not required. The geology unit begins with the basics of geology including the Rock Cycle, Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes, Volcanic eruptions, Geologic Structures, and Geologic Time.

The astronomy section emphasizes observational astronomy with the naked eye and the telescope. With the aid of the campus planetarium, we introduce the student to the motions of the night sky. Instruction is provided in the use of start charts and atlases to identify and locate constellations. Explanation of the use and operation of telescopes is also provided. A previous background in astronomy is not necessary.
Field Trip
The two-night camping field trip is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, April 13-15. We have a group site which has little car parking spaces.  We must car-pool.  More details in course meetings.

Pinnacles National Monument:
See the Pinnacles in 3-D: Pinnacles National Monument in 3-D
Please download the Field Trip Guide and Exercise. This guide contains a materials list for what you need for the overnight camping.

Check out the National Park Service Geology of Pinnacles Website


Geology Take Home Final Exam 1
Astronomy Take Home Final Exam 1
Astronomy Exercise for those who missed 2nd Astro meeting

Enroll for Classes Now!
wvc buttonWest 
Geology Department
Geology Faculty  |  Description of Courses
Schedule of Classes  -  Fall 2000  |  Spring 2001 | Summer 2001
College Schedule of Classes
College Catalogue

page modified by: Robert Lopez
last revised May 1, 2007