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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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Skylook123
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Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012
      #4889276 - 10/30/11 08:33 PM

The 2012 Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP) will be held the nights of June 16 through 23 in northern Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. GCSP is an annual collaboration between the National Park Service and astronomers from around North America to bring astronomy outreach to Park visitors.

Amateur astronomers with a telescope and love of the sky to share, and the interested public of all ages, are invited to experience the beautiful Arizona nights in an exploration of the heavenly Grand Canyon skies. Not an astronomer? Drop in for an unforgettable and fabulous vacation for families, singles, and seniors.

GCSP will be held concurrently on both the North and South Rims. Vistiors to the park are free to show up at their leisure, and observe through any or all telescopes. Astronomers choosing to set up for the event need to register in advance with the appropriate coordinator below. The South Rim can accomodate 80 or more telescopes, and we have not had to limit South Rim attendance thus far. The dozen or so North Rim slots on the Lodge veranda, however, usually are accounted for by the end of February.

In general, volunteer astronomers are responsible for securing their own lodging, and, due to the nature of the venues for both rims, telescopes need to be set up and taken down each night. Please see the North Rim site for unique arrangements for that venue.

Web sites and contact information are shown below. Please contact Steve for the North Rim, or me for the South Rim, if you are interested in attending or for questions you might have.

North Rim
Steve Dodder
Coordinator, North Rim,Grand Canyon Star Party
53750 W. Prickley Pear Rd.
Maricopa, AZ 85239
E-mail: fester00 [at] hotmail.com
Phone:602-390-0118

Grand Canyon Star Party - North Rim

South Rim
Jim O'Connor
Coordinator, South Rim, Grand Canyon Star Party
P.O. Box 457
Cortaro, AZ 85652
E-mail: gcsp [at] tucsonastronomy.org
Phone: 520 546-2961

Grand Canyon Star Party - South Rim


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #4890103 - 10/31/11 11:08 AM

I'm planning on being there Monday-Sunday, coming up two days earlier then the rest of the RLD.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #4890582 - 10/31/11 03:52 PM

Great, Kevin. While you're on the way up, why not snag one of those Lunt 230mm toys for us to play with?

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #4890586 - 10/31/11 03:53 PM

Six nights, Kevin? Don't forget to ask about a free campsite.

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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #4897081 - 11/04/11 09:49 AM

Jim,

I've already booked my hotel room. Its nice to come back to a nice bed instead of a sleeping bag every night.

I would have no chance with the 230, they are all accounted for. I should have the usual LS100 again though.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5181598 - 04/20/12 11:29 AM

Just a reminder that if your travel plans include the Grand Canyon during the eight nights of GCSP, be sure to come and join us at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to enjoy the 7000 foot elevation, or, on the veranda of the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim at 8000 feet. Your park admission is all you need to come and hang out back with 35 to 50 of us on the South Rim, or a dozen scopes on the North Rim. On the South Rim we have a sunset talk inside the theater that is always a great way to let the twilight settle in as well.

If you are thinking of setting up us as an astronomer volunteer, please do! The North Rim is always fully booked by January, but on the South Rim we always have room for more astronomers. South Rim volunteers will need to register in advance with me at the email address below, and I will send you your Welcome and Information package in late May with your free park admission letter, a welcome from, our lead interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall and me, and other hints and helps. Last year we had 109 astronomers register with the National Park Service on the nights of the event as official volunteers, and at least a dozen of us were also set up during the daylight hours at various locations around the park doing solar, lunar, and planetary observing. By the end, we had logged nearly 60,000 visitor contacts, a tremendously rewarding week.

So, join us on either rim as a visitor, or set up a telescope with us on the South Rim as a volunteer, for one night or all eight, or something in between!

For a narrative and pictures of last year's adventure, head on over to:

GCSP 2011


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5181605 - 04/20/12 11:35 AM

Looking forward to it! I cant wait to get out under the AZ skies again, the California skies suck... At least anywhere near by.

You still want me to do a talk on the sun?


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5181700 - 04/20/12 12:39 PM

Hi Kevin,

At this time, I don't think we'll need one. Thanks for thinking about it! We have a returning Ranger who does astronomy talks at Lake Mead (she was our Marker before Marker) and wants to be on the agenda, as well as one or two surprises that have come about. For a while I was worried, but it looks like we'll be covered.


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Joe Bergeron
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Reged: 11/10/03

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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5183459 - 04/21/12 03:56 PM

I hope there will be a spot for me in the speakers schedule.

Working on the new logo...


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5185067 - 04/22/12 04:42 PM

Quote:

I hope there will be a spot for me in the speakers schedule.

Working on the new logo...




That's why I said now we're covered!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5264314 - 06/10/12 05:07 AM

Just a reminder that if you intend to drop in on the Grand Canyon Star Party, come on over to either the Visitor Center on the South Rim, or the veranda of the Grand Canyon lodge on the North Rim.

If you are wanting to be one of our volunteer astronomers, contact me at the email address below and Ill get you the registration material.


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5264486 - 06/10/12 10:13 AM

Have you sent out the Information packet email yet?

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5265876 - 06/11/12 08:40 AM

Yes, they were emailed a week ago. PM sent.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5265882 - 06/11/12 08:43 AM

Well, my personal telescope operators from last year (granddaughters Jessica and Karina) have arrived, with operator #3, grandson Stephan. Since the crew is now of mixed gender, my wife Susan has changed their moniker from "The Girls" to "The Roadies".

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skyward_eyes
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Loc: California
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5266056 - 06/11/12 10:35 AM

Really looking forward to this year! Its been a crazy past few months moving so far from home so it will be nice to be back at this special place. Only thing special this year will be the double stack Coronado 90 solar scope we are bringing up!

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5267343 - 06/11/12 11:57 PM

You always have such interesting toys!

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desertstars

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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5268716 - 06/12/12 08:48 PM

Quote:

Well, my personal telescope operators from last year (granddaughters Jessica and Karina) have arrived, with operator #3, grandson Stephan. Since the crew is now of mixed gender, my wife Susan has changed their moniker from "The Girls" to "The Roadies".




That's probably a good idea.

Looking foreward to reading your reports of the event.


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James Ling
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: desertstars]
      #5268923 - 06/13/12 01:04 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Well, my personal telescope operators from last year (granddaughters Jessica and Karina) have arrived, with operator #3, grandson Stephan. Since the crew is now of mixed gender, my wife Susan has changed their moniker from "The Girls" to "The Roadies".




Must post a lot of photos.....
Is Grand Canyon which I am sure people like myself form non USA country very much like to see and know how the place.....look like......

REgards

James Ling


That's probably a good idea.

Looking foreward to reading your reports of the event.




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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: James Ling]
      #5271995 - 06/14/12 09:59 PM

James,

Check here for a few pictures from last year. Mostly on Pages 2,3, and 4. The telescope setup spot is about a five minute walk from the South Rim. We had 109 registered astronomer volunteers last year.

GCSP 2011


And any time you want to join us, we have a spot for you.


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James Ling
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5273679 - 06/15/12 10:32 PM

Hi Jim....

Just read the last year , 8 days Grand Canyon Star Party forum...

Waiting to see your daily report in this annual event.....

Especially your wonderful 18" Dob...
M51 should be showing the spiral arms at your side, while mine is only 2 round bobs of lights, at my usual star gazing resort ......

REgards

James Ling


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: James Ling]
      #5277269 - 06/18/12 03:01 PM

Finally solved some internet connection problems, so I'll try to get caught up with the daily ramblings.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5277277 - 06/18/12 03:06 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY ONE - A Pretty Good Start

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

Weather: 80s at Noon, 75 at sunset, 50s when we quit at 11 PM. Clear skies, but the wind picked up around 9:45 to about 8 - 15 MPH gusts.

Seeing and Transparency: Started good, but deteriorated a little bit due to the winds.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount

Starting our second year at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, some changes were made in our adventure. First, the Rangers marked off a telescope-free path down the middle of the parking lot for foot traffic. Second, to improve our communications among ourselves, we are having an informal gathering at 7 PM for popsicles and conversation. I think it helps put a more community aspect on what we are doing.

The trip up was uneventful, but now there are FIVE of us travelling up. Thirteen year old grandson Stephan has been added to the now 18 year old Jessica on the 10" Atlas and 15 year old Karina on the 18" Teeter. I need to break in Stephan on the 90mm Orion ShortTube with its Skyview mount. Five people, four telescopes and an 8 night stay make for a packed station wagon, packed pickup, and an external rack on the trailer hitch.

We came up on Friday night and did dry runs on the theater setup and finished the light reduction operations. All looks well for the future.

Saturday was the usual running around getting things organized. I found out I forgot one of the roll up tables I bring, the one I use in the theater for supporting the laptop that has all the presentations. Ginger Applegarth, who has worked with our Ranger coordinator Marker Marshall since last GCSP to try to improve the information distribution for the new volunteers every year called to say she and Alan were running late and did I need anything, because they were stopping at Walmart. Table problem solved. What Ginger is doing is a quantum leap, I think, in helping bridge the gap in the returning vets and the relative newcomers. For health reasons, Alan and Ginger now need to travel in a longer RV so we had sufficient camping slots that we could put then in one of the handicap accessible spaces and they can have an information table set up for all of the volunteer so check out what's going on. And this year I sent out the Welcome and Information package identifying where the campsites are located. As many as two thirds of our volunteers are not housed in Mather Campground, so I identified the location and campsites so we can improve getting to know each other. Having an "Information Central" in the campground, and Marker providing the popsicle session each night, should ease the load on new folks trying to fit in.

Unfortunately, we are missing two of our stalwart participants, Derald Nye and Erich Karkoshka. I really do miss both of their presences. We will have to carry on as best we can.

We got the two big scopes set up, and headed over to the theater at 7:30 to get ready for the night talk. We are now limited to 233 total bodies in the facility, so with the three of us up front, we no longer have 280+ SRO throng. With everything ready to rock and roll, we were off and running. The talk was a new one, given by Interpretive Ranger Laura Jevtich who normally is assigned to Desert View and does night sky interpretation there. Her talk was a comprehensive look at Supernovas - how the universe evolved, and a very engaging way of demonstrating the life cycle of stars. Her talk then went into the elements generated through the engergy released, and the neutron star or black hole remainder. The interesting wrinkle was that she had every person coming in get a square of paper with an element. The color of the paper was an indicator of the source of the element. Laura then went through a list of items and whether they could exist without a supernova - jewelry, electronics, the Sun, buildings, the Earth, the earth's atmosphere, having peope hold up the cards as she read off different element constituents. A great involvement of the audience. She also had an interesting presentation of candidate stars for supernova and hypernova/gama ray burst status, and their distances. Looks like we're safe for now.

I ran out at the end to start the first constellation tour at 9 PM, with Laura set for the 9:30 and 10 PM events. These are always fun, introducing the visitors to the structure of the sky, and the myths and science intermingled.

So, it was 9:45 before I got back to the scopes. Not much to report. Karina was doing OK on the Ring and Mizar, but the Jessica and the Atlas were in a bit of trouble. I had adjusted the latitude change from Tucson in the daylight, in the wrong direction! She finally stuck it on Polaris and did a double star show and tell, which she usually does very well. Five minutes after I got there, the wind started gusting and driving the Teeter around, so between that and the Atlas in another universe, it took an hour of fussing to stow the Teeter and to get all of the bugs worked out and realign everything. It should be OK for tonight. The good news is that after I finally got the polar alignment straightened out, it nailed M6 in Sagittarius and M51 in Coma Berenices dead center so we should be OK for tomorrow night. I'm doing my usual talk on what's up in the sky, a simple, introductory sentance or three on the sun, moon, each planet, clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Then Laura will do the first constellation tour so I can make sure the kids are OK with the scopes, and I'll do the last tour.

The one positive aspect of having to scramble with both telescopes is to listen to Paul Lorenz who was set up next to us. It is always entertaining and informative to hear Paul describe his targets to his visitors; last night it was M82, M51, and The Veil Nebula. So I was actually moving a little slower than usual, enjoying Paul's interaction with the crowd.

Finally, it was great to see Joe Bergeron again, our space artist from New York who has designed every one of our t-shirts for GCSP.

The adventure begins!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5277303 - 06/18/12 03:17 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY TWO - Some Recoveries

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

Weather: 80s at Noon, 85 at sunset, 60s when we quit at 11 PM. Clear skies, occasional wind gusts.

Seeing and Transparency: Started good, still not quite as good as prior events. I do a quick check of Canes Venatici for the main two stars. Cor Caroli was pretty strong as usual, but the second of Bootes' herding dogs was dimming out and in all night.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Lunt LS60THa

The daytime was pretty much uneventful. Our Sunday pizza party was set this year for 3 PM. Personally, this disturbed my usual routine, because I had wanted to do solar with grandson Stephan. I apparently was not alone, because the expected attendance was down about a third. Ginger Applegarth said many astronomers showed up at the familiar noon start time, not having read the flyer we all get at registration. So, we had about 8 or 10 pizzas left over, which the Rangers stored at the visitor center and brought out for the evening popsicle gathering at the scopes. Still might be leftovers!

I did my usual session at the Canyon Cafe, reviewing for the evening and trying to get the daily observing report posted, but everyone was having wireless problems.

The pizza showed up, we had our usual gathering, and started a get well letter for Erich Karkoshka who is not with us this year.

I got to the site at 5:30 with Stephan, and we set up the solar scope and the sun was highly cooperative. A couple of great prominence clusters, and splatters of sunspot groups. Great idea to do it. Not many folks came by to look, though, mostly astronomers in our area setting up for the evening. Stephan was able to get his first experience with his own setup of an equatorial mount and learning the mechanics of how the Lunt works.

My "What's to See" talk was on the agenda tonight. Mike Weaver, our Ranger coordinator tonight while Marker has her off day, did a great warm up with the crowd. The crowd was noticably smaller compared to last night. We hit our theater occupancy limit just after 8 PM the first night, but this night we started at the 8:10 PM advertised start.

I went a little long because of a prestart question about red lights I added to my talk. The talk itself was OK, but I droned on a little bit too long. I did get a good chuckle from the Saturn floating in a bathtub and leaving a ring note, and Herschel's discovery of Uranus by accident while checking one of his mirrors in his garden, but afterward I got about 10 minutes of great questions from people after the talk. I do need to pare the material down a bit, though.

I ran out to see how my scope roadies were doing and found that Karina was doing OK with the big dob, but had chosen an object too high in elevation and folks were needing to climb three steps to see her target. I had to remind her that she's in charge, and she can stop any time and reposition. So she went to Polaris (the attractive triple star that clever unpowered dob users point to since once it's in the field the dob can stay there) and was going onward.

Jessica was having trouble again, or I should say the mount was giving her trouble. A bit off on polar, so her use of Mizar was drifing on her. I did a quick iterative polar alignment, which got the polar better, but the star alignment was way off. I got so involved with trying to fix it with a three star alignment I did not get down for the 10 PM constellation tour so Laura came up while Chuck Schroll started it off. I hurried down and finished the tour, the went back up to the Atlas to try to rescue that situation. Unfortunately, my roadies seem to have forgotten some of what the learned last year. Tomorrow I'll set up the Atlas in the permanent setup area and get it dialed in. But the missing the start of the 10 PM was mortifying. NEVER will happen again.

When I came back, I compounded the difficulties by using a bad pair to align the Atlas. Both were about the same elevation at the time (Deneb, Denebola) so the alignment accuracy was off. I was able to get the Lagoon, but it was probably three degrees away so tomorrow I'll have to do things the right was early.

But the crowds were awesome again to work with. Great questions at the night talk, and lots of fun working with them at both scopes. The late crowd at 10:30 were very interested in the nature of open clusters and seeing the Coma Cluster and the rotation point of the Milky Way galaxy, and the story of Coma Berenices. Once again, as always, the people are the thing.

The crowd was gone by about 11 PM, so Jessica and I closed up shop and came back.

I'll try to get some initial setup pics posted soon; we're having internet troubles at the park, but it might be resolved now.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: James Ling]
      #5277308 - 06/18/12 03:22 PM

Quote:

Hi Jim....

Just read the last year , 8 days Grand Canyon Star Party forum...

Waiting to see your daily report in this annual event.....

Especially your wonderful 18" Dob...
M51 should be showing the spiral arms at your side, while mine is only 2 round bobs of lights, at my usual star gazing resort ......

REgards

James Ling




Yes, James, M51 is awsome at this altitude with a little aperture to throw at it. So is The Sombrero, and Markarian's Chain. These are items that you can't quite get the feeling of when down near civilization and a thick atmosphere. Oh, and the activity in M82 is AMAZING to see here. And The Lagoon. With a 19mm Panoptic in the 18" and going to The Swan, it seems to be shedding feathers. It is truly an awe inspiring week every year..


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5278998 - 06/19/12 02:40 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY THREE - Another Great One

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

Weather: 80s at Noon, 78 at sunset, 50 when we quit at 11 PM. Clear skies, terrible winds up to 35+ MPH all day, although it did calm down after about 8:30PM.

Seeing and Transparency: Both still suffering a bit. Still good skies, but distant fires and the awful winds are really apparent..

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Lunt LS60THa
90mm Orion ShortTube

The daytime was interesting, in a nuissance sort of way. I reported yesterday about slow/inoperative wireless. Somehow the Grand Canyon National Park's internet connection got corrupted by a DNS kidnapping, and the wireless was out to lunch until, well, lunch!

We got to the setup spot early, so I set up two solar scopes: the 90mm with white light, and the Lunt. Nice views in both, not much in the way of foot traffic since it was in the middle of the astronomers setting up for the evening. I finally swapped out the Lunt for the usual 10" SCT for the night, and capped the 90mm. We were not setting up the 18" due to the winds, so I thought I'd use the 90mm for some wide field later in the evening.

I spent a bit of the morning studying the resume of Bill Wren, our speaker last night. He is Special Assistant to the Superintendent at University of Texas Austin's McDonald Observatory, founding member of the UT McDonald Observatory Supernova Search Team and discoverer of four Supernovas in five years, two garnering Nova awards from the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Coauthor of the paper “Preserving McDonald Observatory's Dark Night Sky”, Bill is a strong proponent of preserving the night sky.

His topic was Taking Back The Night, a tremendous presentation of the impacts of light impingement and bad lighting design, corrective actions, and motivation to do the right things for keeping the light use effective, efficient, and appropriate.

The talk was extremely well received, but went well outside our window of time. Bill is an awesome speaker; I lost track of the time as his presentation led us through the entire concept of reclaiming the night sky, especially the WHY. It was a scramble for Laura to get to the Constellation Tour location in time to start the 9PM walk around the sky.

Back at the scopes, the wind was too high to use the 18" so it stayed packed up and Karina went back to the Lodge, but Jessica had taught herself how to do a two star alignment with the Synta hand controller on the Atlas, and found the GOTOs OK, but polar alignment was still off. Once again, she stayed on Mizar. Amazing how excited the visitors get when learning about the lore of Mizar from multiple cultures while waiting in line, then actually seeing the orientation in the eyepiece and getting the color/temperature and Mizar double-double kind of information. The blue star nearby looks dim, but with most of its light in the UV, it could actually be brighter.

The temperature had dropped precipitously with the sun. I had left my jacket in the truck, so I came out from the night talk in tshirt and shorts and said never again would I not change into big boy clothes. When I got to the scopes, I tried the 90mm, which I've only used for solar for the last few years. Then I remembered why; the finder was too close to the OTA, and really tough to use in a crowd. Beautiful views, but finding anything on the plain vanilla no utilities mount was just not the right thing to do. And with a cold, blustery evening and not picking up my jacket, I was ready for a diversion. There were probably about 15 people standing around me, and I heard a visitor ask a question about where to find the Little Dipper. Rescued! I gave up on the 90mm and started a sky tour. I was scheduled to do the 10PM Constellation Tour, why not do a dry run? So for twenty minutes the fifteen or so of us walked around the sky with science and mythology mixed together.

The 10PM constellation tour went extremely well. Lively group. Finished up about 10:35PM, walked back past the truck and grabbed a winter coat, and stowed the 10" for the night. Visitors had evaporated in the chill night, so I just ended the ops on the scope. This time I used a big tarp as a cover and didn't disassemble the whole thing. Had a great conversation time with Paul Lorenz, got back to the room at around 11:30. I'm almost thawed out!

Tonight will be a great topic - our Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall will be doing her Starry, Starry Nights At The Grand Canyon. I learn a lot every time I see it.

I'm not using a scope again this year, and having more fun with the visitors than I could imagine.


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Jay_Bird
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5279288 - 06/19/12 05:36 PM

I’ll chime in with a few impressions of my first GCSP:

Marker and the other Rangers and Jim did a great job coordinating this event: a well marked and (red) lit area, ample preview materials and on-site orientation for a first-timer, and lots of on-site presentations and information to guide the public too.

The Grand Canyon campgrounds are nice and un-crowded, there are enough trees between tent sites to give some feeling of privacy and offer shade at different times of day.

The South Rim visitor center skies are not the absolutely darkest I’ve ever seen but they’re plenty dark, dark enough that Sagitta starts to get lost in the background Milky Way, and it’s easy to point out Milky Way structure and see many summer Messier objects as naked-eye bright patches.

My teenage kids and I set up next to the three Skylook roadie grandkids on 6/16 near the middle of the ‘scope area and were on the edge of the ‘scope area closer to the visitor center on 6/17, near the monster single-strut ladder-sized Dob. The change in location brought somewhat more people to our two scopes on Sunday. Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Alcor/Mizar and Albireo saw a lot of attention, even after full darkness brought out showpiece spring and summer Messier objects.

This star party seemed to have the highest ratio of public participation to “working on my Herschel list / trying out my new imager” of any ‘destination’ star party I’ve been to. It felt like a local outreach event on steroids. There were some good discussions with interested kids and adults, and having 3 of us for 2 scopes allowed for longer talks outside the line for each eyepiece once I caught on to moving dsicussion aside when the lines backed up.

The only caveat is that this isn’t a smaller ‘camp by your scope’ National Park outreach party – those will spoil you. But it’s a short drive to lodges or campgrounds after packing up each night, and any family not at the star party are within walking distance to sunset at the rim from in-park lodging.

I think we’ll go back, and I recommend the experience!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5280975 - 06/20/12 04:24 PM

Great observations, Jay-Bird. What you might have been noticing about the sky quality is something we've all been noting this year, some of us characterizing the seeing and transparency oocasionally with caustic terms. Last night it changed quite a bit, improving considerable. Also, personal opinion only, I think the exceptionally dry and windy season has a lot of dust up in the air that is scattering sky glow around. Also, the upper atmospheric winds two nights ago to the southwest was making focusing on Sagitarius objects quite annoying. Last night, though, was back to prior year qualities.

There are a couple of additions to the park that we are trying to deal with since last year; the bicyle rental kiosk installed near Parking Lot 4 is way badly lit, so the southern views are suffering somewhat. Remediation is is work through a special Grand Canyon Association project for 2012, so we'll see how next year works out. Still, as my notes say, watching Canes Venatici wink in and out when overhead was showing the winds and Colorado fires.

Thanks for the comments!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5281008 - 06/20/12 04:45 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY FOUR - The Fun Never Ends

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

Weather: Pushing 90 mid-day, 80 at sunset, upper 50s when we quit at 11 PM. Clear skies, only a few gusts up around 15 MPH early after sunset.

Seeing and Transparency: Best of the week, but some thin haze did start rolling in from the north around 11 PM.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Lunt LS60THa

We got to the setup spot early again so I could try an Orion Solar System Imager web cam for possible use for crowd display. It has worked well in the past on the moon, but solar use has always been spotty. I fussed with all of the many software settings in three different image capturing software packages, and moved back and forth between the native 5mm focal length and then adding an Antaries 0.5X focal reducer, no luck in anything other than a surrealistic, but sharp, art project.

The talk was by our Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall, my counterpart for the NPS and a great person to work with on this adventure. She does a regular night show at the park called Starry Starry Nights, The Universe As Seen From Grand Canyon National Park. I always learn something new as she walks through the protection of the night sky into the structure of the solar system and how the planets behave, and going through an introduction of the current constellation arrangement and key benchmarks in the sky, with some great, simple to understand scientific proprerties thrown in. To me, it's the Goldilocks presentation - just right.

Aftet the talk I headed out and did the first constellation tour, so that Marker could handle the shut down of the theater and answer questions. Since I have my "roadies" to run the two scopes, the constellation tour is my big chance to have fun with the visitors. For the 9 PM, we still have astronomical twilight so I start from that point and walk up the zodiac/ecliptic line, since we have a touch of zodiacal light. I recommend to the crowd that when they have the opportunity to watch a sunset, or a sunrise, with a clear horizon, to look in the opposite direction for the subtle pastels and the shadow of the Belt of Venus, the Earth's shadow against the solar system dust. I included Mars and Saturn in the walk up the ecliptic, giving them the information about Mars and it's atmosphere driven away by the solar wind since it has no magnetic field to resist, and Saturn's specific gravity of 0.7, snf how it would float in a big enough bathtub but leave a ring. I usually begin with a story about someone tearing up newspapers in Times Square and scattering them around, and when a police officer confronts him he says he is keeping the tigers away. The policeman says, "There are no tigers in Times Square!" "See", says the stranger, "it's working." Many cultures keep the tigers away with their myths and legends about the night sky, and that's what we touch on. When we got to Virgo, I redirect to North and compare The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia in some cultures with the life affirming traditions of the Navajo and the Revoloving Male, Revolving Female, and Home Fire of the northern sky. The talk goes on about the Egyptian burial requirements for an afterlife path to Osiris (Orion) and the North Star. Then I point to Thuban in Draco, the pole star for the great pyramids and how the earth's pole precesses and if they wait 13,500 years, Vega will be the pole star. But that leaves all those deceased Egytian spirits wandering about without a passageway back to their crypt.

That gives the opportunity to introduce the many approaches to the Big Dipper (and Hindu elephant creation mythology), arc to Arcturus, and Bootes and Canes Venatici herding the bears or, in some cultures, being responsible for assuring the sun is in Virgo for harvest time. Another tiger dealt with; not your fault the crops failed, it was Bootes for not getting the sun in the right spot in Virgo.

OK, now we've swung around to the zodiac again so we compare Antares and Mars (Ares in Greek), Mars being the god of war in motion, and Antares (Anti-Ares) being the stationary repositiory of the spirits of the soldiers who died valiantly in battle.

We then get to the Milky Way and Sagittarius with the galactic core and our 10 million solar mass black hole, and many stories of what the Milky Way represents. The Summer Triangle is a strong presence in the east, so we visited Orpheus' Lyre, and our air traffic control problem with Cygnus and Aquila flying in opposite directions. Aquila has priority, though, since it carries messages from Zeus.

Hercules was too high to get into the slaying of the Nemian Lion (Leo) as one of his quests, but we were able to easily see Mel-111, the Coma Open Cluster, just off the Galactic Pole, so now we have the zodiac, galactic core, celestial pole, galactic pole, and the stories to remember.

Karina had stowed the 18" due to the high winds at sunset, and I was too lazy to unwrap it, so I checked on Jessica with the 10" and she was dead on stellar aligned so for the next hour or so we did the Ring Nebula, then I hopped over to The Sombrero, Markarian's Chain, The Whirlpool, and ending up on NGC457, the Owl Cluster. All gorgeous, but I sure did miss the 18" aperture.

Once again I listened as Paul Lorenz was showing, I really believe, half the NGC catalog. He is so good with making the sky friendly to his visitors. He had a nice view of The Whale, Whirlpool, many others, but his 14" newtonian tube had an eye-popping view of The Veil, low power with an Ultra High Contrast filter. Filaments all over the place. What a treat for his customers.

Speaking of which, it was an unusual night in that by the time I got up to the scopes at 9:40, the crowd was less yet more - constantly coming in small clusters. The introductions of the object in the eyepiece is a lot more personal, two or three people at a time coming up, not part of an anonomous crowd. And they kept coming until after midnight!

Jessica and I finally covered the 10" and headed back to the room with a well aligned scope waiting for us tonight.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5281018 - 06/20/12 05:01 PM Attachment (43 downloads)

Night 1 Setup

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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5281055 - 06/20/12 05:24 PM Attachment (43 downloads)

Night 1, #2

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5281070 - 06/20/12 05:29 PM Attachment (41 downloads)

Night 1 #3

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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5282380 - 06/21/12 02:29 PM Attachment (37 downloads)

Elk family out for a stroll

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5282536 - 06/21/12 04:29 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY FIVE - Very Interesting News

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

Weather: 94 mid-day, 80s at sunset, 60s when I quit after midnight. Clear skies, zero winds.

Seeing and Transparency: Again very good, but I need to learn to interpret haze. More to follow.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount
Lunt LS60THa

First off, I got a great piece of news from Dean Ketelsen about several of us noticing what seemed to be haze to the north two nights ago. Here's a quote from his email:

"Concerning your comments on Tuesday night, you said something about thin clouds coming in. Actually, it was either the brightest airglow I've ever seen or aurora! Pictures of it were quite green, and after everyone left and I dropped off Melinda and my other riders in the campground, I went back to Yavapai Point and took a sequence over the Canyon. I think I caught some reds and pinks too. Will likely blog about it later tonight - check out:

www.theketelsens.blogspot.com"

PLEASE check out Dean and Melinda's blog!

We were out to the site early, since I'd left the Meade still aligned over night and would try to find the first day Moon and Venus before sunset. Something went sour in the electronics, and it pointed to the Moon as 20 degress from the sun. We'd have to wait until sunset and realign.

Marilyn Unruh gave her usual presentation, without slides, just three props - two quarters, and a ball on a stick. She has three topics - seeing the shadow of the earth, introducing the Belt of Venus; The Telescope as a Time Machine (a quarter representing the solar system, two quarters one light day, the North American Continent being the size of the Milky Way. Great relative distance and time comparison. Finally, she ends up with using five senses for astronomy at night. It really engages the crowd.

Aftet the talk I headed out and did the first constellation tour again, which as always is fun to do. After my tour, Marker was doing the next tour so I ran up to the scopes and a mini-disaster had occurred. The hand controller on the Atlas had lost it's mind, and the display screen was shifted about a quarter inch in the holder, the bottom line of display had gibberish, and the memory was somewhat gone and it couln'd remember where Park is. Susan took the roadies back, the scopes were stowed, and I ran down to hear Marker's constellation tour. Another great one, leaving the visitors with friendly sign posts around the sky and an understanding of our place in the physical universe. I picked up with the 10 PM tour, then headed back up to the scopes. I was eager to do some observing with the great sky, so I unpacked the 18" and started to work. But I was getting bad results from the DSCs so I checked the azimuth and the attachment hardware was loose, so I two instruments with minds of their own. Then the battery box for the Atlas decided to into permanent test mode, flashing pretty lights but useless. Wow, tomorrow is going to be repair day. Oh, and I found all three adjustment screws on one of the Telrads completely backed off to the point they were hanging on by a thread. Today I advised the roadies that for our astronomy equipment, whether Telrad or collumating secondaries, it is better to tighten two than loosen one.

Repair Day!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5283803 - 06/22/12 12:56 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY SIX - Equipment Recovers, But Windy

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

Weather: 94 mid-day, 80 at sunset, 48 when I quit after midnight. Clear skies, winds about 10 with gusts to 35.

Seeing and Transparency: OK, but annoying lights from Las Vegas and Grand Canyon Village.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount

We started the day with the traditional Steve Ratts and George Barber Legendary Huevos Rancheros Breakfast. I stopped by to ask a question of Marilyn Unruh, ended up staying an hour and a half just yakking and enjoying the company. We talked about Dean Ketelsen's observation regarding sky glow/aurora from previous nights. Marilyn and I have both spent quite a bit of time in the far north, and what we saw was not what we recall as aurora, so we voted for sky glow. Then Bill Lofquist remarked how, around 3 AM or so, the Milky Way started getting fogged by a green haze. Dean has updated commentary on his blog, so please check it out. It matches what I learned on a web surfing expedition yesterday, and he is certainly better equiped to discuss the peculiar events we are seeing.

Ah, Repair Day! I brought the damaged hand controler from the Atlas into the lodge, and had it working in about 30 seconds. There is some kind of rubbery shock mount for the power connectors and the display, and being almost seven years old any used so much in the desert heat had outgassed into a hard, brittle conglomeration that had crumbled and allowed the display plate to shift off the light background, so I just reset everything. What I had feared was an electronic fault in the display was my own forgetting about loading beta code into the controler to test Synta's new polar alignment routine. What I thought was gibberish was Greek beta symbols combined with the offset. DUH. Returning it to the site would prove it was better than ever. I repaired the goofy test lights on the battery box by just clipping the wires; I know I can get at least four nights out of the 35 AH deep discharge battery, and I recharge every night.

Returning to the site, granddaughter Karina and I completed the repairs on the Teeter; we disassembled the entire setup to get to the ground board and rocker box pivot and tighten down the azimuth encoder. Then, with the winds gusting to almost 40 MPH, we hoped for the usual Arizona sunset wind stoppage. I pulled up the shroud to remove the sail effect, and weighted down the rear and front and left it stable.

While back at the site, I was giving the night talk so I previewed it with Art Cloutier, retired National Park Service Interpretive Ranger who had provided a bit of my inspiration to do the presentation on why some cultures need to look to the sky, and what the cultures get from the exploration. We had our 7PM popsicle meeting, and went in to set up for the talk.

I had tremendous difficulties with getting the laptop to configure with the projection system. I finally gave up on the Presenter mode for PowerPoint and just shared the screen. Tha talk went wonderfully; I keep waiting for the call from the Pulitzer people, but they must be busy. The talk walks through the highlights of pre-Egyptian, Egyptian, Greek, other Mediteranean, Native American (stressing Navajo and Chaco Culture aspects), the real motivations of many of the greats in the past, ending up with a challenge to the audience as to what they might take away from the night experience.

I went up to the sopes and the 18" was pointless to try, but granddaughter Jessica was really rocking with the 10". With the repaired hand set, she set up the leveling of the mount in RA and DEC to get a revised home position, then did a great two star alignment. Banging objects in the 9mm Nagler at 285X and about .33 degree FOV. Yikes. I ran down and picked up the 9:30 PM Constellation Tour, and it was my best ever - with only 25 minutes, I stuck with the anchor points of the sky and cut back on the mythology a bit, stressing non-Greek lore (Navajo, North African, Mayan), saving the Greek for Orpheus' Lyra and Queen Berenices' sacrifice of her hair for the safe return of her husband Ptolemy III from battle. We did the usual Zodiacal discussion and Milky Way stories, but 25 minutes is not a lot of time.

Back at the 10", I split time between some playing with Jessica's setup and seeing all of Paul Lorenz's eye candy in his wonderful 14". So many gorgeous objects in view. But Jessica and I are still handling clumps of visitors coming through.

All along, the visitor flow slowed a bit but still kept coming until near midnight. Usually, after 10:30, the visitors tend to be either park workers with families, or lucky tourists who stumble onto us. This year, however, our counts have been quite higher than usual. The Park is trying electronic counters down at the visitor center that are showing over 1200 total visitors from that area, not counting the Mather Point foot traffic. This has allowed me to log 35 or 40 visitors AFTER I do a night talk and a constellation tour or two. And the constellation tours are bringing in as may as 65 or more as well. The astronomer crew here is doing SO much great work, raising the environmental awareness and challenging the creative thinking while bringing so much enjoyment and amazement to our customers. Doing this is so doggone much fun.


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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5284057 - 06/22/12 03:34 PM

My nights so far have been somewhat interchangeable, so individual night reports seem unnecessary. I have my 6" apochromatic refractor out here again, and the exquisite views of Saturn it provides at 282X are unmatched by any other telescope here that I've seen or heard about. Therefore, although it gets pretty boring to rattle on about Saturn for hours every night, I feel it's my duty to provide park visitors with this experience and stay on the planet almost all night long.

Many times the preternaturally perfect image which confronts the visitors elicits gasps and cries of awe, and sometimes joyful laughter. It also brings forth many cries of "It looks fake! It looks like a picture! Like a sticker! Like a cartoon!" These I could do without. It seems that if the real thing actually resembles the pictures they become suspicious. Perhaps if they encountered Johnny Depp and he looked like his pictures they might suspect him of being fake too. Many visitors are also puzzled by the whiteness of the image. They expect Saturn to be much more intensely colored.

Tonight I'm doing my talk on space art, and I don't plan to set up my telescope, because being the reticent soul I am, I tend to lose my voice after speaking for a half hour or more. I will set up again for the final night tomorrow and give everyone a Saturn sendoff. Then it's off to Utah for me.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5285886 - 06/23/12 08:42 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY SEVEN - Satellite Track And NO Wind

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

Weather: 94 mid-day, 80 at sunset, 48 when I quit after midnight. Clear skies, Quite windy in the day time, calm at night.

Seeing and Transparency: Nice, but still annoying lights from Las Vegas and Grand Canyon Village.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount

We had a brainstorm in the morning. At 9:20 PM would be an ISS pass across the northfor about 10 minutes, followed by a Hubble pass down the western horizon. Why not use the mount to its extremes? I practiced a few times during the day, and it all seemed ready.

Joe Bergeron gave a very inspiring and educational talk for the early visitors. Because of time constraints, we unfortunately hamper our speakers, limiting a truly expansive show but we will change that next year by starting earilier. Joe's topic: Making the Universe Look Good - A space artist shares his vision of what’s up there. A tour de force of up close and personal art imagery of a visit to planets, asteroids, a comet, and riding aboard the Casini space probe, just as though you were a passenger. Very senistive color balance to the accuracy of the scenery and vistas as viewed at the creations in our solar system.

Returning to the site around 9:05 PM, I took over the 10" and prepped for the ISS pass. I hadn't brought the perfect equipment set, so I patched through the hand controller. I needed a precise alignment, so I was using EQMOD/EQMODLX to convert the LX200 GPS commands in Satellite Tracker into ASCOM compliant mount commands. This necessitates a precise stellar alignment in my planetarium program, Earth Centered Universe, since the hand controller can only be used for directional adjustments. I wanted three stars on each side of the meridian, started on Dubhe, and got it centered. Then went over to Kochab and the hand controller died. It would pass commands, but not allow movement. I gave up, accepted Kochab at about a quarter degree off, and started the rest of the package. Now I had ECU, EQMOD, I started EQMODLX, HW Virtual Serial Port, and Satellite Tracker. Since the satellite was already above the horizon I put it into the view plan and did an immediate track start. I zinged over and intercepted fine, not good enough of course for visual but easily in the center ring of the Telrad. THAT immpressed the visitors! Then, my major blunder. I got the alert that Hubble was breaking horizon, so I selected it without stopping the track on ISS. Confusted the mount, really drove the S/W nuts, and ended up needing a Park to Home to rescue. Without a working hand controller, I was at the mercy of the badly aligned ECU so I gave up and stowed it. NO WIND! Time to unwrap Derrick, the 18". Spent the rest of the night, after adding the Telrad and installing and aligning the Sky Commander, hitting EVERYTHING in a 9mm Nagler! Did lots of great work with tourists, including Dumbbell, Sombrero, Markarian's Chain, Lagoon, and on and on. Finally stopped at 1 AM. GREAT night. Had no constellation tours to do, so I was a bit disappointed by that, but for the first time ever in public I did the successful satellite track! Oh, and fixed the shifted number pad in the controller in the morning.

Today we had the final day pot luck, and we all marvelled at the changes that we've accomplished in two years. All the good we've done, all the visitors we've enlightened, all the joy and awareness we've brought. I am SO sad this is over this year. I could do this forever. But only if I get to set up next to Paul Lorenz; what an education I get listening to him and his entusiasm. I leave every night balancing between awe and envy.

Oh, at the pot luck, I got an awared as an honorary Interpretive Ranger. This is a special award given by Interpretive Rangers, and I can't say much more or I'll get kinda weepy. What a privilege it is to work with these dedicated, selfless people who give so much of themselves to the public. But all of the astronomers here deserve to share in this award. I must walk up and down the line of scopes for various reasons every night, and hearing the interactions between the astronomers and the nearly 1200 visitors we've been having each night is phenomenally uplifting.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5289349 - 06/25/12 11:52 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY EIGHT - Again, Over Too Soon

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

Weather: 90 mid-day, 75 at sunset, 55 when we quit to pack up after 11 PM. Clear skies, Not much wind all day, calm at night.

Seeing and Transparency: Both very good, but still annoying lights from Las Vegas and Grand Canyon Village.

Equipment:
18” f/5 2286mm Teeter Telescope newtonian truss dob, Sky Commander DSCs
10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount

Those of you wanting the feel of the Grand Canyon Star Party will want to check this video by John Bransky:

GCSP 2012

Before I begin the final observing report for the 22nd annual Grand Canyon Star Party, I must apologize for being remiss in giving Joe Bergeron's web site for enjoying (and most certainly shopping through) his wonderous creations. As Joe introduces his web site,

"Somewhere in a wooded realm, I, Joe Bergeron, dwell in my lofty wizard's den, crafting marvels of all descriptions. The sun, moon, and stars keep watch over all my doings. I'm an artist, specializing in space art and astronomical art, an amateur astronomer, and a writer. Venture forth into my web site to be fascinated, thrilled, and annoyed by me and all my works."

Please visit Joe Bergeron, Artist and find your muse hidden in the infinite beauty of Joe's creations.

Following our traditional last day pot luck in Mather Campground, we got ready for tonight. I fixed the hand controller, charged up the batteries, and we headed down to the site. I moved the big dob into a spot that was convenient to the common equipment table but gave Craig Averell and Paul Lorenz much more room to work. Meanwhile, Craig from Kingman, AZ had convinced a friend from Kingman, AZ to come and join the fun, so by the time we sorted it out, we were all spaced well.

We hit the theater early so that Dennis Young, from the Sedona, AZ club Sirius Lookers, our speaker for the evening, could give astronomers a look at a great high speed montage of several thousand Cassini images merged as a three minute movie. Nothing can match flying adjacent to the ring plane and looking backwards, or zooming by moons or seeing Saturn like a huge basketball on the giant theater screen.

After we cleared the astronomers we opened up for Dennis' Astro Geology tour of Arizona, night visages of famous Arizona geological landmarks with direct moonlight, reflected moonlight, distant city light, all of it film photography and all of it a unique blend of heaven and earth, many with comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp, aurora borealis, or other special astral events to highlight the images. The audience enjoys the stories of packing into the photographic sites nearly as much as the photos. And Dennis gives out postcard samples of his photography to the audience after his talk. Please visit Sedona By Starlight and become immersed in the duality of astronomy with geology.

With the nature of their talks, both Joe's and Dennis' by necessity run a bit long. This bothers me to no end. So next year, we will start the presentations 10 minutes earlier, to allow a more reasonable time for covering the craft that each of these visionaries have for us.

I was doing the 9 PM tour while Laura Jevtich closed up the theater so I hurried up to the scopes and found grandson Thomas, thirteen years old but might be five feet tall on tip toes, four steps up the ladder with the 18" showing and teaching Mizar. A little bit higher than I cared for him to be, so I had him move it down to the Ring. An incredible view in a 19mm Panoptic. All of the grandkids can rock and roll with a dob, and Jessica does wonders with the 10" as well, so I had no problem with Thomas working the big dob but I like to keep the elevation down for the visitors. Fifteen year old Karina was helping our Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall count visitors, and 17 year old Jessica had the Hercules cluster in the 10". They don't really need me tonight! Actually, as the sun was setting, my wife Susan, always the high school physics teacher, showed Stephan how to set the scope down low and show people how it worked, with red lights under the chins of people near the front, and no eyepiece in the focuser viewing the creature faces. About thirty or forty people really got a good view of how a Newtonian telescope worked, and rumor has it were quite entertained with one guest standing near the mirror's focal point saying she wanted to buy one because it was the best she'd looked in years.

I headed on down to do the 9 PM constellation tour for about 65 folks, and it was, as always, a great experience. Many visitors want to know where their astrological constellation is, and are usually disappointed when only five or six are ever up in the sky. They do seem to enjoy seeing what they've heard about, and the Milky Way was nearly casting a shadow. We had to finish far too soon, so I headed up for some "me" time at the 18". Probably had about 60 visitors in the next hour, mixing the discussions with eye candy like the Ring, Markarian's Chain, Whirlpool, and The Lagoon, and general constellation and mythology discussions. Over far too soon.

Our actual physical count of visitors rounding the corners of the Visitor Center was about 1400, matching most nights' attendance. Even if each visitor only looked through six telescopes, that would mean 8,400 contacts tonight so we are pushing well over teh 60,000 visitor contact level.

The girls were a tremendous help taking down the site, and we were fully packed for the trip home by around 11:30. The roadies have really shined again this week.

The level of support by the National Park Service Interpretive Rangers, especially Marker Marshall, my counterpart with NPS with a real gift for getting this ready, and Mike Weaver, who always makes me laugh about the adventure, and my partner in night tours Laura Jevitch who we borrowed from Desert View to help out, is direct example of the positive effect of your tax dollars at work. Marker has been a tremendous inspiration to me, and I ame grateful for all that she has done to make this happen for us.

We have done some things differently this year, and learned a bit more about using this special location, and I wish GCSP 2013 was starting tomorrow.


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5290528 - 06/26/12 06:30 PM

and the dates for GCSP 2013 is.........?

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James Ling
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5290689 - 06/26/12 09:03 PM

Hi Jim.....

Have followed through both your 8 days of report , as well as other, and really surprised that the wind is so strong that even your 18" cannot be used at times of this big event.....

Just wonder any foreigners like myself, traveled all the way to this special event, of course not for the 8 days....????? Coz if we do not know about all the logistics involved to travel up there....

REgards

James Ling


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5290776 - 06/26/12 10:06 PM

June 8-15, 2013

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Skylook123
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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5290962 - 06/27/12 12:39 AM

Thanks, Kevin. I'll start next year's thread this weekend.

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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5291313 - 06/27/12 10:02 AM

Jim, looking forward to next year. I have already made my reservations.

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Lightbucket12
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Reged: 10/01/10

Loc: Bullhead City, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5292598 - 06/28/12 01:19 AM

Thanks for putting on a great star party. We, 4 members of the High Desert Astronomy Club from Kingman AZ, were there - most from the 21st through the 23rd. We had a great time and met a lot of wonderful folks from many parts of the globe. The last night, 23rd, was just pure magic. By 11:00 the crowds had thinned out. I took a sky quality reading in the lower parking lot at 21.65 with great seeing and transparency.

Dennis Young was set up in front of me and he allowed me to spend some quality time viewing M-51 through is 23" Dob. Thanks Dennis.

Early Sunday morning Dave and I wondered over to the big scope row where 2 of our club members were set up. The viewing conditions had really popped. Craig had the Veil in using an oxygen filter on his 20". Neither Dave or I had ever seen the Veil in such detail, contrast and clarity. We kept going over it bumping the scope back and forth in utter disbelief. Meanwhile Doug had his Obsession on M-11 and had cranked up the power and we spent an extended period of time viewing the interior stars which form box like geometric patterns. The stars were brilliant and sharp against a black backdrop. The viewing was just pure magic.

"Thanks for the memories"

Bert


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Lightbucket12]
      #5294025 - 06/28/12 10:02 PM Attachment (131 downloads)

Thanks for the comments, Bert. Some added words: Dennis Young's dob is a 28"! I stuck a picture from last year of Dennis' instrument below, taken by Rich Russin from Florida



No wonder M51 was a treat. He used to have a mirror cover on it that claimed it was a 36" Yard of Telescope to amuse folks. Some years ago, Roy Ang brought a pre-release version of an image intensifier, and Dennis used it in the wee hours along with a bino viewer (he can adjust the secondary-primary distance pretty easily to cover a variety of focuser travel needs) and he and Kevin LeGore (skyward_eyes above) were claiming they could see condos being built in Andromeda. And Paul Lorenz, with his 14" tube dob near where Craig Averell and I were for most of the week, used an Explore Scientific widefield eyepiece at about 85X and a UHC filter on the Veil many nights. WOW. My 18" was doing magic things on Markarian's chain and a couple of other objects that my grandkids were showing, so it certainly was a great couple of nights at the end.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: James Ling]
      #5294178 - 06/28/12 11:52 PM Attachment (131 downloads)

Quote:

Hi Jim.....

Have followed through both your 8 days of report , as well as other, and really surprised that the wind is so strong that even your 18" cannot be used at times of this big event.....

Just wonder any foreigners like myself, traveled all the way to this special event, of course not for the 8 days....????? Coz if we do not know about all the logistics involved to travel up there....

REgards

James Ling




Hi James,

This is one of the rare years when we have not had other nationalities as astronomer volunteers. We've had Canadians, French, Australian, South American, and a decade or more ago, several Russian observers with their families. For two years recently I tried to get a Turkish engineering student with an 8" Meade LX-200 to be allowed to attend, but the first year he was a student and the second year he had just graduated as an electrical engineer, and without a job in Turkey he could not get a visa. We've had foreign astronomer volunteers actually spend a few nights each at several of the US National Parks like Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. In most of the parks you can set up your telescope anywhere that does not cause a traffic problem.

The logistics depends on affordability and time. By air, get to Las Vegas, Nevada or Phoenix, Arizona and rent a vehicle and drive to the Grand Canyon. We have rough camping sites a mile from the setup point for around US$20 a night, or free if you stay at least six nights with us. Or there is the Trailer Village for full RV hookups for around US$30 a night, or one of the park lodges for anywhere from $90 to over $300 per night.

So, any year you are able to join us, we will always have a place for you. But be careful -- One night we might ask you to be the guest speaker for the public and tell us about public outreach the way you do it!

First night sunset.


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Lightbucket12
super member


Reged: 10/01/10

Loc: Bullhead City, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5295669 - 06/29/12 11:27 PM

"mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa", your right Dennis has a 28" dob not a 23".

Sorry Dennis for butting your scope on such an intense photon diet

On the night of the 23rd I think Paul Lorenz was set up near Craig and probably heard Dave and my oohs and awes as we were having visual orgasms while viewing the Veil.

Condos on Andromeda. Wonder if they've experienced a real estate bubble burst recently, say in the last 35 million years. Maybe they can tell us how bests to handle the Collateralised Debt Obligations and the Securitised Investment Vehicles and what to do with the 600 trillion dollars worth of Synthetic Derivatives - both the Government and Wall Street are clueless. But then again we may have to wait a while to hear from them. Oh well!

Thanks again for throwing a wonderful party.

Bert


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Lightbucket12]
      #5295725 - 06/30/12 12:54 AM

Oh, it's all a cyclic thing. One year Andromeda is hot, next thing you know ya gotta buy in The Sombrero.

Last year, one night Craig and my granddaughter got into dueling nebulae in Sagittarius (with me consulting, of course). He had her on aperture with the 20" f/5, she had him on FOV with 18" f/5. Then he snuck in an O-III, so I slipped Karina a UHC. Then the rascal tossed an Explore Scientific wide field into the arsenal, and it was game over. Made my 19mm Panoptic look like a soda straw. I think I had her quit that battle and we went over to the supernova in M51,


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Lightbucket12
super member


Reged: 10/01/10

Loc: Bullhead City, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5296167 - 06/30/12 10:44 AM

Yeah, I know what you mean about large aperture scopes and wide FOV eyepieces. After viewing through Dennis's dob I went back to my 12" and somehow the view was "inadequate" or as the character Captain Jack Sparrow would say, "itsy bitsy teenie weenie".

I don't want to take this thread off topic so if you have the time, could you PM me as to your thoughts on the Teeter 18", why you choose that scope and how it compares with a 20" - viewing and dollar wise in your opinion.

thanks,

Bert


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Lightbucket12]
      #5296189 - 06/30/12 11:01 AM

while I support the outreach concept
60,000 contacts over 8 days seems overwhelming
how did the North Rim star party go?

edj


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skyward_eyes
Vendor - Sky-Watcher USA
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Reged: 12/12/06

Loc: California
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5296217 - 06/30/12 11:22 AM

My friends on the North Rim said they had a great time, they had about 200 people per scope during each evening. But they had no where near the amount of scopes we have at the South.

Jim, this year will be the beginning of the 24" f/3.6 build! Getting the primary blank by the end of this year. So hopefully within the next few years Ill finally have a 24" up there.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5297194 - 07/01/12 12:33 AM

Kevin, I remember when you were a dedicated astroimager with moderate refractors. I think setting up next to my old 18" Tectron gave you the fever...

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5297206 - 07/01/12 12:47 AM

Based on a couple of posts on the AZ Observing list server, they might have had a bit better weather the first couple of nights on the North Rim. The veranda offers the shielding from the wind that we just don't have on the South Rim. Since they are limited by the veranda space for instruments, somewhere around 11-13 telescopes is all they can support on that side, so the visitor experience would seem to be a more cozy, intimate journey than our busy street fair for telescopes. And their 8000+ feet altitude has us by 1000 feet or so. I believe they set some sort of total aperture record one early night with 180" of telescopes set up.

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.


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5297676 - 07/01/12 10:55 AM

Jim,

Yes, imaging is all well and good but nothing is as good as a big dob.


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janehoustonjones
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/21/07

Loc: 34 N 118 W, 652.0 feet
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5299493 - 07/02/12 05:26 PM

I think we'll try for North Rim next year! Jane

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: janehoustonjones]
      #5300020 - 07/02/12 11:36 PM

Jane, are you modifying the old Aperture Rules for Altitude Rules?

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.


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Dave97402
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Reged: 12/16/11

Loc: Eugene, Or
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5300548 - 07/03/12 12:00 PM

We camped just outside the north rim about a month ago. Freakishly dark and beautiful there! wow

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desertstars

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Reged: 11/05/03

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Dave97402]
      #5305045 - 07/06/12 09:22 AM

Another GCSP and another set of entertaining reports! Thanks for sharing this with those of us who weren't able to attend.

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michaelgc
newbie


Reged: 08/11/12

Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5363042 - 08/11/12 09:22 AM

If any of you guys would like to share stories or photos of your Grand Canyon Star Parties, we at www.grandcanyon-nationalpark.org are going to feature any one of them on our website. Please let me know with a PM. Thanks!

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 16 - 23, 2012 new [Re: michaelgc]
      #5536282 - 11/23/12 09:20 PM

Before starting a thread for next year's GCSP, I thought I would wrap up the current year's event with thanks and stats.

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.


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