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Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013

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#51 Skylook123

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:26 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY SIX - Finally, Good Skies

Location: Grand Canyon Visitor Center, South Rim of Grand Canyon, AZ, about 340 miles north of home in Tucson, about 7000 ft elevation

Weather: Mid 70s at Noon, upper 60s at sunset, mid 40s during our time there tonight. Sky was mostly covered until about 10 PM, then exploded in glorious starlight.

Seeing and Transparency: Seeing was pretty steady, despite the upper layer winds, almost as good as last weekend. Dust kicked up by high winds over the last few days and nights conspired with the five day old crescent moon to reduce the intensity of the Milky Way.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Mallincam Junior video imaging system on 10", 13.3" LCD monitor.

There was a big change in the weather today. Back to the clear skies we've become accustomed to over the last few years.

This was a special day in several ways. The traditional Thursday morning huevos rancheros breakfast brightened the morning despite the absence this year of George Barber, with Steve Ratts, the founder of the event teaming with others of our intrepid gang to pull it off. In the afternoon, Marker Marshall, my granddaughter Karina, and I did a public outreach at the Kaibab Learning Center for three to seven year olds. I was planning to set up the SCT on the moon and Venus, and the Lunt solar scope on the sun. But when I set up the Lunt, the main bolt for one tripod leg was missing. I called Marker and she brought a nice spotting scope for the moon, and I moved the Lunt over to the Atlas mount and all went great. The sun was putting on a nice show, with at least four strong filament lines, a couple of sunspot groups. four sets of prominences, and several bright white faculae regions. I had the Mallincam Junior on the sun with the monitor allowing all the little ones to see the magic in the sky. Our daughter-in-law Gloria arrived with two more grandkids, 8 year old Thomas and 10 year old Andrew, so we have quite a crew here for the end of this year's adventure, although with a herding cats flavor.

I was really happy to see John Sauscavage arrive at the site. He owns the same Mallincam Junior as I now have, except he has several years of great video imaging experience compared to my several weeks of floundering to learn the nuances of the art. I am going do some learning tonight.

The Park Superintendent came to our nightly popsicle kick-off, and we were thrilled. Seems he had come the night before out of uniform and had visited the scopes, and was so impressed by what we were doing that he caught the fever and said he was less than subtle with his wife about a telescope and Father's Day. It was gratifying to all of us to hear how much our efforts mean to the Park, and that the visitor feedback that was flowing up to the highest level was so positive. Really psyched me up as much as the (finally!) clear skies.

I was the sunset speaker with a presentation "How a Telescope Really Works", starting with a depiction of the electromagnetic spectrum and the visible portion that we will be examining, going through the telescope being a time machine, and giving an overview of technologies with advantages and disadvantages of binoculars, refractors, reflectors, and catadiopterics, as well as equatorial and azimuth-elevation mounts to go with them. Interspersed were pictures of each type set up at last year's GCSP, and a final page of approximate price ranges of various types of optical tubes and mounts. Quick and to the point, it actually got seven requests for copies after the talk, with three or four more afterward at my scope while finalizing the setup of the SCT outside. We've needed this topic for years, and it was well received. Next year I'll convert three main descriptive slides to hard copy for sign boards at the site.

Back at the scopes, Alan Delman was doing the 9 PM clear sky tour, Marker did the 9:30, and I did the 10 PM. After the talk, it took me about thirty minutes to get the SCT ready due to some issues with a misaligned Telrad and some other minor issues, like leaving the tripod in the low height mode from the Kaibab event. That really makes the stellar alignment a bit tougher, but it also makes final camera alignment on near overhead objects very difficult since it performs better without the star diagonal. Finally got it all squared away with John's help getting the focus right (took forty turns of the focuser to get the huge donut down to crisp), got a great image of Saturn going, this time without the focal reducer and with zoom setting on the camera so the image was huge in the monitor, and went over to do the 10 PM sky tour which went extremely well. My tours include a lot of cultural mixing of the sky structure and use of the constellations, and I got quite a Pied Piper following back to the scope wanting to know how to get more of the information on how various cultures look(ed) at the sky. Best tour of the week so far. It gets an interesting reaction when I mix in the European/Mediteranean point of view of the use of the sky extremes with examples like Stonehenge alignment with Solstice, to the Native American point of view of a holistic balanced integration with the sky as evidenced in the Chaco Canyon alignments with the Equinox.

During the setup, had some great talks with passing visitors who were interested in the mechanics of the setup and alignment of the equipment; this part always surprises me, because we had over forty telescopes set up and working, yet twenty-five or more folks wanted to watch the astro-geek scramble. Human nature, go figure.

After the tour, I found that the polar alignment wasn't the best so the image had drifted off the screen. Dennis Young helped me get the image back. He noticed that when I replaced the camera with a 40X eyepiece in the visual back to get the planet centered, and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get an image on the monitor despite having Saturn dead center in the low power eyepiece, he pointed to the fact that the camera was on the ground next to me waiting to be re-installed. DUH. All was recovered.

Over at their monitors, Wayne Thomas and John Sauscavage were again demonstrating that they knew what they were doing, as opposed to my feeble attempts. John had started on the moon, then went to M13, then The Ring, then as Sagittarius rose, Triffid and Lagoon. He was wondering why the initial deep sky object views on his monitor seemed subdued, and then remembered he had left the polarizing filter on the camera from his lunar beginnings. He removed the filter and was getting absolutely awesome views on his 7" monitor of all the Sagittarius eye candy. I was quite surprised at how well the 7" worked with the display; not too small at all. GREAT Hercules Cluster, and without the filter and making the right choice of options, the colors coming out of the nebulae in SAG were just as impressive as the exquisite detail. I MUST learn to use my camera that well. Up here, I'm doing my job as coordinator and can't play the learning game as well as I'd like, but John is demonstrating how well this device works for our purposes.

Temperatures had plummeted, no more visitors, so I was packed up and out by about 11:40 PM. Tonight I want to really start exploring what I saw John extracting from the night sky. I need to set the tripod much higher to get under the visual back for the final centering, and then do the search and learn exercise. Visitors come first of course, and honestly my first love has become the constellation tours. Next year, maybe only the SCT and leave the big dob at home. It's only gotten a couple of night's use for an hour or two by Stephen, with the tours and imaging setups taking my attention, but that's what growth is all about; what I can do with the tours and imaging is far beyond any personal Oh Wow I can get with the 18". And for me, an eyeball at the eyepiece guy, that is almost heresy. But it is real, and the effects can be seen in the faces and reactions of the public who see a three inch image of Saturn with Cassini and ring shadows, or feel enlightened by the cultural awareness of the night sky, has become a way of life. And, after all, that's why we're here.

#52 Skylook123

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 01:35 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY SEVEN - It All Comes Together

Location: Grand Canyon Visitor Center, South Rim of Grand Canyon, AZ, about 340 miles north of home in Tucson, about 7000 ft elevation

Weather: Mid 70s at Noon, upper 60s at sunset, mid 40s during our time there tonight. Spotty clouds all night, light to occasionally moderate wind gusts.

Seeing and Transparency: Another night of pretty steady seeing. The six day old crescent moon to reduce the intensity of the Milky Way.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Mallincam Junior video imaging system on 10", 13.3" LCD monitor.

Not much exciting during the day, but the night worked out pretty well.

Finally fixed a continuing issue with the Telrad on the 10". One of the AA batteries keeps popping out of the holder and losing the bulls-eye. Used some painter's tape and nailed it down.

We got to the site at the usual time and I set the scope up on the crescent Moon. Easier said than done. No easy long range target to collimate the Telrad, which, for some reason, was about five degrees off. Finally got the moon in the eyepiece, though.

We did the Otter Pop gather ing around 7:10 PM, then went into the theater to set up for Jocelyn Layte's presentation on light pollution effects, very well done and the right length of time. I have to give a great shout out to John Sauscavage, who did a fast but professional fix to the inverter that runs the rope lights out to the scope area. On of the connectors had pulled out, and he rebuilt the system before dark. GREAT work.

When we got outside, things finally seemed running well with the 10". I was able to quickly set up the video capability, and we had a super moon in the monitor. Then I went over to start the 10 PM Constellation Tour. I was standing at the gathering sign and looked back at my scope and could see "No Signal" on the monitor. Went over and found that a visitor had tried to squeze between the blocking cones and the scope and had knocked off one of the flashing tripod lights AND tripped on the camera line and yanked the camera and adapter out of the visual back. So much for putting barriers up! While the power connection was pulled out of the socket on the camera causing the No Signal, at least the data cable hooked on the mount head and prevented the camera from bouncing off the pavement.

Camera survived, after the tour I got back to the scope and set up on Saturn. With no focal reduction and zoom set on the camera, it was a huge, gorgeous display. After about an hour, I went over to M4 to try some Deep Sky Object observing. Polar alignment was flawless, but the stellar alignment was corrupted by yesterday's issues so I went to Antares, did a one-star alignment and then went over to M4. I remembered to turn off the shutter and set the integration time to the full four seconds available and got a fantastic exploded view of the big glob. I had forgotten to add either the f/6.3 focal reducer to the visual back, or the 0.5X Antares reducer to the camera, so the image was probably well over 500X as it was on Saturn. One could see condos being built in the core stars. It was now about 1 AM, I had my DSO with the camera, so I packed up and left. I was way too tired to break everything down, so I cheated and used a big cover over the scope, mount and tripod and only packed up anything that would possibly walk away. Hooked up the batteries and crashed around 2 AM.

Room smelled great with the slow cooked Kahlua pork that Susan was getting ready for the Saturday traditional pot luck. Yummy.

With the scope finally polar aligned, the final night should go much better than the rest of the week. Not having to do a cold setup while doing my other duties with the dozens of little adventures will have us far ahead of the curve, and I want to try the Sagittarius area if possible, M82, M51, M27, and M57 as well. Filters are all ready to go. First, though, the pot luck!!

Hint to self - don't forget the focal reduction. We were doing some daylight eyeball on the moon, the scope is a 10" f/10 SCT, does an OMG view with Mallincam Junior on a crescent moon, and Saturn on Zoom was pulling people from other scopes over to see Cassini, ring shadows, weather bands, all gorgeous and HUGE. But, when I went to M4, in the 13.3" monitor, I could see them building condos around the core stars. It was 1 AM by this time, brain non-functioning, forgot to use either the f/6.3 or the 0.5x Antares which makes M13 a perfect fit. The monitor has an interesting mode called Cinema, which puts it perfectly scaled in wide screen, and that alone made the core of M4 spectacular.
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#53 Skylook123

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 12:19 AM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY EIGHT - End Of A Great Week

Location: Grand Canyon Visitor Center, South Rim of Grand Canyon, AZ, about 340 miles north of home in Tucson, about 7000 ft elevation

Weather: Mid 70s at Noon, upper 60s at sunset, mid 40s during our time there tonight. Lots of clouds all night, light to occasionally moderate wind gusts, sucker holes all over as well.

Seeing and Transparency: Mostly cloudy, but good images when a sucker hole would show up..

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Mallincam Junior video imaging system on 10", 13.3" LCD monitor.

The days are finally blending together, but today was the final pot luck/cookout in the campground, always a highlight of the trip. Early in the morning we were getting predictions of thunderstorms, but the strong winds cleared out the threatening clouds and left behind lots of puffy cumulus. One huge surprise were special awards for our grandkids Stephen and Karina for all of their assistance to the Rangers in setup and takedown each night. They have really been essential elements of getting the whole site ready each night, and handing out skymaps at the theater, and helping me with the scope operations. Great interactors with the public, real gifts to have around.

I went over to the setup site and took down the big dob; no real point to prepping it with the forecast winds, and might as well get a running start on the pack out.

Leaving the 10" set up and aligned the night before (except for components that might grow legs during the day) was a great idea. We showed up at the site around 5:30 PM, and by 5:45 we had a great lunar view in the imaging monitor. Polar alignment was quite good, no real adjustments needed all night. And this time I remembered the 0.5X Antares reducer for the camera, leaving the moon a much more pleasing target in the monitor.

The show tonight was Dennis Young's fantastic wizardry with getting film photographs combining geological features and astronomical night, with a variety of lighting sources from natural moonlight to city lights to reflected light from rock walls, and even short bursts of artificial light to highlight near field elements like giant saguaro cactus with comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake in the sky view on many.

When Dennis was done, the highlight became the award of Celestron's two donated FirstScopes. One of our astronomer volunteers now works for Celestron and was able to arrange the donations to the Grand Canyon Association. Anyone between the ages of six and fifteen coming into the night talk was given a raffle ticket, and the two telescopes went to worthy young recipients.

Going back out to the moon, just in the hour and a half or so I was gone, Susan had already had over four hundred visitors at the lunar image. Gorgeous site, rave reviews, perfect Lunar Poodle with the Apollo 11 landing site easily identified when the clouds would break. I stuck around for a while, then began the 10 PM final Constellation Tour of the 2013 Grand Canyon Star Party. Although really hit and miss with the fast moving mostly cloudy skies, I was able to get in everything I usually try to highlight in a multi-cultural form, the constellations and other night sky elements such as the zodiacal features, the bears (really funny tonight; the Big Dipper was visible, most of the body was obscured, but the feet or "deer tracks" were out the whole time. It really gave perspective to the size of the Great Bear. As bright as it was, one could easily see the Elephant of Creation in some Asian religions in the image of the Big Dipper. We were able to get the Navajo family arrangement, the Antares versus Ares lesson, core of the galaxy, Cor Carloli (The Heart of Charles) in Canes Venatici that got the astronomer who named it quite an annual stipend for life when the Cromwellian revolution in England came to an end and King Charles II re-established the monarchy. Personally, I told the group I was looking for the Bill Gates cluster. We were able to get the multicultural impressions of the Milky Way, and even Orpheus' harp's story, Lyra, worked in along with Spica and a nice Virgo.

The only feature not available at all was Mel-111, the Coma Berenices Open Cluster and the legend of how Zeus placed Egyptian Queen Berenices' sacrifice of her hair to Hera as thanks for the safe return of her husband, King Ptolemy III, from battle. It is about three fingers from the North Galactic Pole, but was not visible this night due to the clouds.

Susan left for the room when I got back, and I switched the monitor to cinema mode, going from a square image to a scaled full screen. It made the image a bit larger in size, but the ratio was perfect and the bigger image got even more oohs and aahs. I was going to try some deep sky objects, but I was pretty tired, it was getting cold, and we still needed to pack things up. I usually need to be on supplemental oxygen at night, and had forgotten to arrange for a portable supply, so after nine nights at 7000 feet I just couldn't hit the fast ball any more. So grandson Stephen and I packed everything up, even the banner that we forgot last year, loaded the main equipment setup and left the big dob for the morning. Stephen and Karina have been a tremendous help to me, and especially to the Rangers, with setup and takedown. Tonight, Stephen did most of the packup work except for me lifting the heavy scope into the truck. Nice to be small enough to crawl back in the pickup and arrange things. Of course I forgot one roll-up table at the site, which my counterpart, Ranger Marker Marshall. found while finishing shutting things down and left at Park Headquarters, since she knew I'd be dropping all the people and hours worked sheets off. One of our other Rangers from last year, Mike Weaver, was on the desk and had it ready for me when I came in. Went out, Susan's battery was dead, looks like time for a new one. Mike got the local support out and we got a jump and kept it running all 350 miles home.

Once again, I leave absolutely stunned at the A-Team of outreach practitioners we bring in from around North America. And equally stunned at how much effort Marker Marshall puts in to prepare for this event. Her attention to detail and never losing sight of what we have to get done is such an inspiration. And the visitors are so grateful for the product!

#54 Mike Wiles

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:29 AM

I'm still trying to recover from the trip even though it's my second day back to work. Things at the North Rim were as awesome as ever though much smaller than the South Rim. The highlight of my week was watching my 15 and 16 year old daughters forcibly take over the telescope from me and work the star party themselves. I have encouraged them from a very young age to "give something back in this life" and they seem to have taken that to heart. Truly, I spent probably 50% of my time at night just working the lines at the telescopes and doing naked eye astronomy with a laser pointer as a result of their efforts.

Lynn Blackburn, Chris Hanrahan and I discussed the finer points of time lapse composition early in the week. Here are the first two of those efforts.

Wednesday, June 12th Time Lapse - We knew from the beginning that this wouldn't be great simply because the skies didn't appear cooperative, but it gave us a chance to test our panning mount.

Thursday, June 13th Time Lapse - These were probably the best conditions we had late in the week. With the crescent moon becoming significant in the late afternoon sky we were able to start before sunset. The moon does a wonderful job of lighting up the canyon after sunset.

Only 368 more days until next year's edition.

Mike

#55 bob71741

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 05:50 PM

Mike - Nice time lapses!! I was surprised at how many meteor captures that you got Thursday night. How many frames did you take and what was the cadence?
I was there Tuesday and Wednesday night, but the weather did not cooperate.

#56 Mike Wiles

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:07 PM

Hey Bob,

For the daytime stuff I shot 1/100 second exposures every 10 seconds, and then put them into the time lapse at 10 frames per second. The night time stuff consists of 20 second exposures shot every 23 seconds. The extra 3 seconds is to give the camera time to write to the memory card.

I don't know how many frames I shot....several hundred all total. I just shot until we quit.

#57 Skylook123

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 09:35 PM

Nicely done, Mike, and thanks for a look from the North Rim. I totally forgot to try image captures on my system. In a few days I'm hoping to have a link to the hundreds of pictures that some of us (not me this year) and the NPS took around the site.

Gorgeous Milky Way!

#58 Skylook123

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:19 PM

We weren't only busy at night. On Thursday, granddaughter Karina and I, along with our lead Ranger Marker Marshall, went to the Kaibab Learning Center for some solar and lunar outreach. When we got there, a bolt was missing from one of the solar scope's tripod legs so we mounted the Lunt on the big Atlas' mount, Marker brought a spotting scope for the moon, and we passed on showing Venus. The students were mostly 3 to 5 years old, so it worked out well with the sun in the Mallincam Junior.

Here are a few of the young viewers, my granddaughter helping out, and the 13.3" monitor that was showing a phenomenal solar display with four prominence groups, five long filament bands, two sunspot groups, and a couple of associated faculae regions. Amazing show for the kids, who switched between the sun, and Marker's Moon.

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#59 Skylook123

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:47 PM

The national training center for National Park Service rangers is at Grand Canyon National Park. To enhance their training and include night sky environmental awareness, they recently acquired a new telescope and needed some help setting it up. A group of our long time participants conducted a training session for the teaching staff in setting up and making use of the latest technology.

On the left is Kevin LeGore (skyward_eyes here on Cloudy Nights), whom I've observed with for many years, formerly worked for Lunt Solar Systems, moved to Los Angeles to work for Woodland Hills Telescopes and now works for Celestron, a fantastic imager and outreach practitioner. The other person in civvies is Jim Palmer (azpalmer hereabouts), leader of a group of about a dozen folks from Phoenix, outreach specialists we call the Red Light District because of all the red lights and path guides they set up around their compound of scopes at GCSP. With them are Ranger staff getting their training in setting up their new eye on the sky.

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#60 Kevdog

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:40 AM

Jim, I've been meaning to post and say thank you for all the hard work you put into this every year. My wife, 6 yr old son and I enjoyed the evening on Sunday night (the first Sunday). It was windy, so some of the bigger dobs were stowed, but we did get to see M57 through the 28" hand built aluminum? dob (that is a beauty!).... and even my wife oooh'd and ahhh'd at it.

Also, seeing through many of the C14s confirmed that my C11 is working quite well and I finally got it collimated correctly.

Thanks!

#61 Skylook123

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:11 PM

Thanks, Kev! We ended up with about 30 of the 40 scopes running. My poor grandson had great plans for the 18", but it only was out three times; kind of a windy week.

That was Dennis Young's homebuilt 28" single bar truss dob. He has gust locks on it, so he never misses a night. Here's a daytime picture.

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#62 tecmage

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 06:37 AM

Jim,
You make me really, really, really miss not being able to attend! One day....

#63 Skylook123

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 08:21 AM

See if this helps prod you to join us sooner, rather than later.

This is a poem written at and after this year's GCSP by Mary McMacken. Dennis McMacken is one of the folks who puts together our club's three weekend beginner's astronomy instruction sessions three times each year. I finally got them to attend GCSP this year, and Mary wrote this:

Grand Canyon Stargazing July 2013
(Mary Lilly McMacken)

It begins, the sky, filled with clouds,
the parking lot, filled with telescopes,
astronomers of all ages set up,
excited to share their passion.

Chatter, greetings, laughter,
We are here, racing to get ready,
The wind picks up, dancing, laughing,
Stealing hats and sky charts.

The melting sun throws buckets
of orange and purple hues, on the clouds,
drenching them, pulling them slowly
beneath the horizon line.

Venus comes out of hiding, bright,
winking through the shivering atmosphere,
bringing hope Mercury will soon follow,
and the wind will soon fade…….

The wind laughs softly then giggles,
Sending hair across faces, Grabbing the
"How to" booklet for the new telescope,
taunting as we race to grab it back.

Mercury blinks in and out, teasing the eyes.
It's almost there, then gone again.
It's almost dark enough when, it appears
a shimmering smile in the telescope lens.

Visitors come drifting up eager to see
beyond this tiny ball we call our home.
Smiling they stand in line, waiting
to be pulled into another dimension.

Vega shows its face, a new target.
The wind persists, voices grow in volume
A steady rising hum, "Do you want to see…
Vega, Venus, Saturn, Mercury?"

"Yes, thanks, sure, . . Ahhhh it's awesome."
A young man says, "You hear about
The Grand Canyon, but when you get here…
It's unreal." He looks up at the star filled sky

spreading his arms as if he would embrace it.
It's yummy dark now. The wind is moving slowly,
the laser pointers shoot green lines in all directions..
teaching constellations, stars, planets.

"Look, there, green light points, can you see
Arcturus the brightest star in Bootes, Saturn…..?"
"Oh my god, a voice almost sings,
"I've never seen the Ring Nebula before!"

Now, the night sky is velvet black dark.
"What," a voice asks, "you've never seen it"
The Milky Way, a magical cloak drapes
across it "hiding billions of sister stars

The stars, never seen this bright at home,
have multiplied, over and over, so many times,
blinking, shimmering, filling the sky,
"making the constellations hard to find."

The wind has given up, no fun left to be had,
The hum of the voices have trickle to a soft purr.
I look around, where did they all go, the visitors?
Back to hotel rooms, RV's and camping tents?

Ah yes, It's time to put the telescopes away.
We help friends, old and new pack up,
It's time to leave but we will be back tomorrow night
For the delight, the passion, lingers on and on and on……..

#64 Skylook123

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:43 PM

August 10, 2013

2013 GCSP Participants
c/o Jim O’Connor of TAAA

Dear Grand Canyon Star Party (South Rim) 2013 Participants:

THANK YOU ALL for making the 23rd annual Grand Canyon Star Party another great success! Once again you all educated and inspired huge numbers of visitors from around the globe. They appreciate it and so does the National Park Service.

Having some spots dedicated to videoscopes this year was a very successful experiment, making the telescope viewing more accessible to wheelchair users AND all those who for whatever reason have trouble seeing things in an eyepiece or wandering through a telescope lot at night. Thanks so much to Jim/Susan/Karina/Stephen O’Connor, Wayne Thomas, Bill McDonald, & John Suscavage for providing that service!

I have finally tallied the Contacts and Hours forms that were turned in (THANK YOU!), and I did some extrapolating to fill in the gaps. Attendance was down compared to last year, thanks to the early dates and some cloudy nights. But visitor-astronomer contacts were impressive nevertheless: it appears that with shorter lines visitors had time to look through more telescopes, making it a great experience for those who did attend.

Thanks to Marie Cloutier, Joanne Archinal, Jan Cossette & Daisun Wagner for helping me get an actual visitor count on two nights (442 on cloudy Wednesday night and 967 on the mostly clear final Saturday). And EXTRA special thanks to the indispensable and indefatigable O’Connor clan (Karina & Stephen & Jim & Susan), for all you did to make things run smoothly, despite low staffing this year on the NPS side!

• Total night and day astronomer-visitor contacts: 47,062 (vs. 62,748 in 2012); 43,239 by night and 3,823 during the day
• Estimated total nighttime attendance (at 7.16 scopes each, compared to 5.85 last year): 5,871 (vs. 9,758 in 2012); plus 3,058 by day at an estimated 1.25 scopes each, (vs. 6,484 in 2012: I miss you Sim Picheloup!).
• Total slide show attendance: 1,848 (full every night)
• Constellation Tour attendance (at 9:00, 9:30 & 10:00 pm nightly): 754, compared to 882 in 2012. Thank you Jim O’Connor, Alan Delman, Joe Orr & Tyler Nordgren for doing most of those—with stars or without!
• 100 volunteer astronomers donated 2,381 volunteer hours with 34-44 telescopes set up each night.

Looking specifically at your stat sheets:
• Art Cloutier is the new champ for total reported visitor contacts, with 1,782 over the course of 6 nights and 2 six-hour days.
• Diane Hope is runner-up with 1,724 contacts over the course of 7 nights.
• Dennis Young clocked the most hours: 104 ¾ over 8 nights and 6 days.

A big thanks to everyone for your work presenting slide shows (Jim, Dennis, John Anderson, Marilyn Unruh & Jocelyn Layte), running the shirt shop (Mae Smith), passing out star charts & tickets for the telescope giveaway (various O’Connor progeny), designing the logo (Joe Bergeron), serving as social coordinator (Ginger Applegarth), organizing social events (Susan & Jim O’Connor, Steve Ratts, Ginger & Alan) and the campsites (Bill & Mary Lofquist), getting us two Celestron Firstscopes to give away to two happy kids (Kevin LeGore) in addition to many gorgeous photographs given to non-telescope winners (Dennis), helping to figure out the new layout (Larry Cossette and Jim & Susan Knoll) and assisting in all sorts of other ways (so many of you!).

And of course thanks to ALL of you for setting up your scopes and sharing them patiently and enthusiastically with visitors, not to mention getting yourselves here in the first place. Your time and energy was well spent in touching lives and making new converts to amateur astronomy and the preservation of dark night skies!

I think my favorite visitor comment this year came one July day when a lady spotted Dean Ketelsen’s GCSP t-shirt at a Trader Joe’s in Tucson:
• “Oh my God, we were at the Star Party! It was the highlight of our summer!”
Of course I also enjoyed the comment overheard by one of my co-workers, from a girl around age ten:
• “Wow, they must be making a lot of money at this thing!” 

Well done, everyone.

Mark your calendars for June 21-28, 2014 – the 24th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party! I hope to see you all then.

Sincerely,

Marker

Ms. Marker Marshall
Park Ranger—Interpretation
Grand Canyon National Park
(928) 638-7830
marker_marshall@nps.gov






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