Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012
Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:33 PM
Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:47 PM
Both sides had an unusual week in that the visitors generally did not just stop around 10 PM or so. Although they tapered off, I was seeing clusters of visitors until after midnight most nights.
Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:55 AM
Yes, imaging is all well and good but nothing is as good as a big dob.
Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:36 PM
There were a couple of nights this year when the Milky Way was virtually three dimensional, and the Summer Triangle seemed like it wanted a hug. The North Rim had to be spectacular. We had zodiacal light for almost an hour after sunset. The North Rim had better weather the first two nights, so I would imagine that some folks still haven't broken away.
Because of the scheduling constraints, we get a New Moon on the first night next year, so the Lunaphiles will be happy the last weekend. The Milky Way will still beckon.
Posted 03 July 2012 - 11:00 AM
Posted 06 July 2012 - 08:22 AM
Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:20 PM
First of all, we ended up with 105 astronomers who registered for all or part of the week with the National Park Service. As in
previous years, I've been getting emails from visitors who took the effort to look up the contact information for the event and thank us
all for the experience. We made a whole lot of people happy, and once again touched a lot of people's lives.
We must extend a tremendous thanks to our veteran member Ginger Applegarth for coming up with the concept to encourage more interaction among the astronomers to make the newer participants, and non-astronomers accompanying the volunteers, fit in. In early spring, Ginger's suggestion of more information sharing and communication grew into an activity center campsite, #38, in Mather campground which was a pretty effective way of having a friendly operations center and photo board. At the same time, our Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall teamed up with the idea of the Otter Pop gathering for the astronomers and park support each evening about an hour before sunset. Great team building and information sharing. One of our long time participants Erich Karkoshka from the UofA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, got some unfortunate medical news the week before GCSP; he tried to join us anyway on the first Saturday, but was unable to make the trip. Thanks to Dr. Alan Delman's idea for a get well "card", and Joe Bergeron, creator of all of our GCSP logos who made up a special drawing for Erich, and many of the astronomers dropped in at Space 38 and signed the presentation, Erich was quite moved upon receiveng the contribution. We TAAA members were quite relieved at the next monthly meeting to see Erich up and around, and he has never missed his monthly planet predictions report at the club meeting.
I need to thank our speakers at the night talks: Laura Jevtich, Bill Wren, Marker Marshall, Marilyn Unruh, Joe Bergeron, and Dennis Young,
for providing insights into the night sky and the happenings therein. Several of the talks were firsts - Bill Wren's talk on taking back the
night sky in Texas around McDonald Observatory, and Laura Jevtich's role of supernovae in the development of life were great additions to
the usual list, and Joe Bergeron's return to the agenda was highly appreciated. For next year, we will be starting the talks ten minutes or so earlier in order to give some of the speakers more time to explore their subjects.
As far as visitor support is concerned, We had from 35 to 55 telescopes set up each night. Even with some astronomers forgetting to turn in their visitor contact forms, we accounted for over 62,000 visitor contacts (up to 1400 visitors each night looking through an average of 5.6 telescopes each) including over 8,000 daytime solar and planetary show and tell. Wow. We've added three constellation tours each night that proved pretty popular as well.
We all owe a huge ovation to Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall, our contact for the NPS and GCNP, and all that she did to help us grow
into the larger audience, considering the Annular Eclipse and Venus Transit preparations as well. And also right up there is the ever increasing support from the National Park Service and Grand Canyon National Park, with a significant increase in attention to highlighting GCSP as a Must Do event. Much behind the scenes effort by Marker, Ranger Mike Weaver and the team of Park Aids that helped with setup, traffic management, and visitor assistance made it possible for us to drive up and set up.
During preparations for the Annular Solar Eclipse, someone came up to Alan Delman while he was finishing constructing a Baader filter for his scope. During the conversation, Alan recommended the person join us for a star party after the eclipse. He told the person, "Half the Park is after dark." It turned out, the stranger was the new Park Superintendant. Note that the latest Grand Canyon Association Bulletin has a poster in it with catchy phrase "Half the park is after dark"!
I'll end with some comments we heard during the nights:
• Ginger Applegarth heard a kid saying “This is awesome! It’s better than TV! Mommy, why don’t we watch THIS instead of TV?”
• A mom our Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall heard leaving the event with her family: “What a privilege to see Saturn like that!”
• A woman on the telescope lot: “Wow! That was the first shooting star I ever saw!”
• So many people either talking about how great this was or just discussing astronomical subjects like how big the universe must be as they walked past Marker on departure.
Now, time to get ready for GCSP 2013, June 8-15 2013. It can only get better.