What scope do you bring to star parties?
Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:27 AM
Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:40 PM
A few years ago, my wife asked me why I took my scope (10" F6 Discovery) to star parties. She had noticed that I would set it up and then not use it. I was too busy talking with other people and looking through their scopes. I said that I took it to show that I wasn't a scope moocher. She said that they know me by now and either they like me or they don't. Taking the scope won't change anything. So we leave the scope at home and haul more camping gear.
More gear means a better experience for my wife. I'd much rather have her at the star party than my scope.
You might want to consider bringing a light and inexpensive pair of 70mm binoculars – or something similar. Adding a parallelogram mount and something like the Pocket Sky Atlas would be nice too. Binoculars of this size make for a great treat at summer star parties. You or your wife can just sit in a lounge chair and scan the Milky Way. You can even add white-light filters for daytime solar. Binoculars also are great on those nights featuring sucker holes that tantalize at dark sky sites, but don’t play well with a telescope.
Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:27 AM
Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:25 PM
I usually show my kids and their friends some things through my scopes until 11 or so, then they go to sleep in the tent and I wander around the field socializing and looking through the other guy's really big scopes (usually some 24"-28" ones at most of the big star parties). If I didn't have the kids, I might consider leaving my scopes at home and just mooching off of the big boys.
Posted 05 January 2013 - 04:10 PM
I bring all of mine Or at least it seems that way.
LOL Dean! I'm with you!
I bring my C-11/G11 combo which has a 70mm triplet piggy backed on it, I bring my ES127ED refractor on a CG5 mount, and I bring my 80mm binos on a parallelogram mount. If I owned a bigger Dob, I would bring that too!
The only thing about bringing more gear is to ensure you have enough time to setup, experience to use the gear, a routine to follow, and enough rest to break it all down properly! I've often experienced equipment problems, and having lots of options allows you to make the most of great, clear, and dark skies!
Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:13 AM
Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:47 AM
Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:39 AM
and view the sky naked eye,
or with wide angle binoculars
many times I have taken large optics
and not used them
Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:51 PM
My answer is not cut and dried, since 90+% of my "star party" participation is public outreach. But, I'll give it a shot.
1. The only organized star parties for astronomers I used to attend were the yearly All Arizona Star Party and All Arizona Messier Marathon. These were both about 70 driving miles from home, and I would stay from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. Due to a variety of reasons, the location changed a few years ago such that they are now held about 180 miles away, and for physical and work reasons I can't seem to break away any more. However, I usually took only an 18" Tectron and then the 18" Teeter, although I often took the 10" SCT as well to do satellite tracking and daytime solar white light work.
2. Public outreach at schools require the 10" since I can set it to accomodate the age group and let it track. Several times a year we have solar observing outreach opportunities, in which case I may take only the Lunt H-Alpha, or I might also throw in the 10" and/or the 90mm, both with white light filters.
3. Public outreach at "all comers" events such as on the University of Arizona Mall, F.L. Whipple Observatory open houses, special events at Kitt Peak National Observatory, or the Pima County Parks and Recreation events in the Saguaro National Park, or our periodic support of night sessions for the University of Arizona astronomy students, has me bringing the 18" for the better flexibility on views and, frankly, shock and awe.
4. Public outreach at our local Catalina State Park three times a year has me bringing both the 10" and the 18". My wife will use the 10" on double stars and planets (she taught astronomy in high school for many years, but has retina defects in both eyes that prevent her from focusing on eyepiece views at night).
5. For the Grand Canyon Star Party, I bring the whole arsenal. Last year I used the Lunt H-alpha during the day for solar, and set up the 18" for granddaughter Karina to run, the 10" for granddaughter Jessica, and the 90mm for grandson Stephen. Five people, four scopes, all the support and baggage, plus tables and rubylith and cardboard for windows and light blocks - I think Eisenhower sent less stuff to Normandy.
6. We have an upcoming outreach/star party sponsored by Astronomy magazine all day and night at Pima Community College.
Astronomy Magazine Public Star Party
Grandson Stephen will come down from Colorado Springs and help out. I know I'll bring the 18" and the Lunt for sure, and will try to finish his training on the 90mm and 10" the week prior to the event so I'll have one of those two as well.
7. For plain old monthly club star parties, just the 18".
Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:08 PM
I have a 5x8 cargo trailer I modified for star parties. I bring a 20F5 Obsession and TEC 140 for visual. I bring a SV115T, AT65EDQ and C11EdgeHD for imaging. It's nice having a variety of focal lengths for imaging different targets. I like a good triplet refractor to go along with a big dob for viewing. Some day I will get a faster big aperture dob that doesn't require a ladder.
For public star parties I will bring a dob and a refractor if the site is dark, otherwise I just bring the refractor. I have brought up to 3 scopes to a public star party but its a bit of work keeping 3 scopes on targets. Even more so if your are tending an 8 foot ladder for the public.