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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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Skylook123
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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013
      #5536310 - 11/23/12 09:34 PM

The 2013 Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP) will be held the nights of June 8 through 15 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 generally 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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Reged: 12/12/06

Loc: California
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5537032 - 11/24/12 10:59 AM

WOO! Already booked for next year! Ready for another awesome week at the Canyon!

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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5537035 - 11/24/12 11:01 AM

Let me know if I can help you with anything this year Jim.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5537146 - 11/24/12 12:07 PM

What can you do about the weather? And the moon?

With the way the lunation works in June 2013, we had no choice. To do it the previous week would be a couple of days too early for training the summer park aides, and the next third quarter would push us too close to July 4 preparations for the park. But, that means that with New Moon on the first night, by the end of the week the visitors will have some nice moon views both day and night, and some possible moon set in the Canyon opportunities in early evening.

And we'll have Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter all day, and Saturn until early AM so should be a good week for the day time astronomers not showing solar views and Saturn to see how many weepy eyes we can get.

So, if you can take care of the weather, we'll have a good week.


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5538376 - 11/25/12 08:21 AM

for those who have never been
the GCSP is the best, most enjoyable, star party I have ever attended
the only negative is so much to do during the day,
I am too tired to observe at night
-the canyon
-the condors
-the trails
-the food
-the shops
-no need to drive anywhere with the buses
-solar scopes set up everywhere
and then the night sky
I spent hours staring at Omega Centauri from the North Rim

but get your lodging early

edj


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5538498 - 11/25/12 10:36 AM

Haha I will see what I can do Jim.

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Mickey_C
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Loc: AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5542124 - 11/27/12 01:25 PM

Is the North Rim Star Party still being held on the patio of the lodge? I love the dark skies on the North Rim, but they had all those yellow bulbs burning on the patio all night.

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Mike Wiles
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Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: Goodyear, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Mickey_C]
      #5542722 - 11/27/12 07:53 PM

Quote:

Is the North Rim Star Party still being held on the patio of the lodge? I love the dark skies on the North Rim, but they had all those yellow bulbs burning on the patio all night.




The park service now turns out all of the lights on the veranda during the star party. They are set on a timer and do come back on at about 12:30am, but the veranda is dark during the star party....and the skies are amazing (as you know). Few things I've seen with the naked eye can match watching the Sagittarius Milky Way rise in the east while you're staring across the Grand Canyon to see it.

Mike


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Mike Wiles]
      #5570672 - 12/14/12 11:15 AM

Thanks, Mike. I have never done the North Rim side, but I can only imagine what the extra 1,000 feet of altitude does for the transparency.

It is sometimes funny to see the reactions to the rising of the summer Milky Way. Even some of the astronomers, new to that environment, think it's a cloud bank rolling in and start to take down their setups. I had a visitor once who insisted it was clouds. I showed him the star field through the big dob, and he insisted that the stars were in FRONT of the clouds. The crowd around us really enjoyed that conversation.

And thanks for the commercial, Ed. Very well stated. Try doing it as we did the last two years with three grandkids along who never seem to need sleep. This will be our tenth year attending, and I've only seen and done about a tenth of what I want to eventually see and do during the day.

On the South Rim, we have plenty of room for more volunteers. Come on out and join us and see how many lives you can touch.


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azpalmer
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Reged: 06/11/09

Loc: Arizona
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5581185 - 12/20/12 05:57 PM

Jim,

Can't wait -- we have our reservations made. I know of an additional 2 astronomers coming up with our RLD group. We should have about a dozen telescopes.

I'll use the links & get our offical astronomer registration to you in the next week or so.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: azpalmer]
      #5581202 - 12/20/12 06:07 PM

Thanks, Jim! Your other two additions have already chimed in and are on the list.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5711293 - 03/03/13 07:34 PM

This is a reminder that it's about time to lock down plans to attend the 2013 edition
of the Grand Canyon Star Party. GCSP '13 is the 23nd annual collaboration between the National Park Service and astronomers from around North America to bring astronomy outreach to Park visitors. The event is held concurrently on both the North Rim, coordinated by the Saguaro Astronomy Club, and the South Rim, coordinated by TAAA. The level of public interest and involvement, and the opportunity to make major contributions to public education and awareness, is profound. And the visitors tend to disappear around 10:30 PM so personal observing objectives at 7000 feet and dark skies are available as long as you can stand it.

And Ed J. above has a great commercial for daytime activities.

For North Rim information, please see the link above.

For South Rim information, please see the South Rim link above or email me at link below.

To register as a volunteer for the South Rim, please send me an email at the link below.

One of our regular observers, Dr. Alan Delman, at the Grand Canyon Annular Eclipse, was building a solar filter at the Visitor Center when he was approached by a stranger who asked what was going on. He told him about the eclipse about to occur, and a public star party we were putting on afterward. Alan was asked, "You volunteers are working with the public at night as well?" to which he replied "Half the Park is After Dark". Little did Alan know he was talking to the new Park superintendent. Now I'm seeing that phrase pop up in Park publicity material.

Come join in for a great experience. And, more importantly, you never know what one life you'll touch.


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5711727 - 03/03/13 11:22 PM

Looking forward to it! Already booked!

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5713492 - 03/04/13 10:12 PM

It will be great to see you again, Kevin. I may have a Mallincam Jr. on the 10" by then. It is almost certain, unfortunately, that our three grandkids won't be able to join us this year - I'll have to actually work my scopes! Stephen, the 13 year old, came down from Colorado and helped me with three outreaches last month, including doing solar and night work at the Astronomy Magazine Tucson Star Party.

Sigh...without the two granddaughters(they have jobs now!) I'll be actually employed.


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skyguy88
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Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5727160 - 03/11/13 11:45 PM

Hi Jim,

I would like to come up with my video system for a couple of days. Is there AC power available in the observing area and have you thought about establishing an isolation site for folks using video screens? Don't want to mess up anyone's night vision.

Any sign of ranger support?

Bill McDonald
Prescott


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyguy88]
      #5727305 - 03/12/13 01:31 AM

Hi Bill,

Oh, you'll love the answers. Not.

First, we have only ever had one person do non-eyeball at the eyepiece, a coworker of mine, and he only shows up about once every three years. However, he does pure imaging with a 9.25" Nexstar at sundown, then processes and links the image to the object on a planetarium display of the sky on a laptop. He does it with a boatload of batteries which he has not a clue how to correctly manage.

No A/C available. We are in a fairly remote parking lot and generators in the park other than the campground are not permitted, nor is it possible to get A/C the 300+ feet to the closest outlet because it is a single 30 amp service and with 70 powered scopes out there, the local safety folks don't want ANY wire/cable on the ground in the dark.

As far as isolation, we're pretty compressed but ad-hoc. Pretty easy to get there early enough and set up on an edge so if there is any glare, it's directed outward, or set up in the small permanent area at the north end, again facing away from the few big iron instruments we let stay set up for the duration. I have a 3M privacy screen on my monitor, and a CompuShade housing around it. Zero visibility outside of 15 degrees from straight on. This year, including you, we will have three video setups; mine and one other will be Mallincam Juniors. The other guy uses his a lot for outreach. Where I set up, and where the other guy will set up, easy for non-interference with other observers. I'll be using two scopes, and with luck my granddaughters will do the real work - an 18" Teeter, probably for purely visual, and the 10" SCT with the Junior. Visitor traffic only lasts for about two and a half hours, so with my two 35 AH deep cycles and an 800 watt inverter for the laptop, I should be able to go a couple of nights even though I recharge everything at night with a Battery Defender. Plus, the granddaughter that will run the 10" is in her fourth year with it, and she'd be happy if the laptop died. She's great with the visitors at the eyepiece and running the Atlas. And the other granddaughter who runs the 18", when I was in the hospital with pneumonia last fall and a 20% survival prediction, sent me a sweet email asking if she could just take the scope now. Sheesh.

If you'll be attentding, send me an email to the gcsp address below. That's how I automate sending out 100+ registration packages and keep track of things.

As far as ranger support, it is usually awesome but I just haven't had time to ping our lead Ranger, Marker Marshall, yet. Last year we had three full time Rangers (Marker, Mike Weaver, and the Interpretive Astronomy Ranger from Desert View) and four Ranger Aides to help, fantastic support. We volunteers may have to do a bit more than usual, like moving a sign or two around and setting up the day pylons, but we always did this at Yavapai and it only takes six or seven minutes. The last three years the rangers have been allowed to schedule their hours to support us through 11:30 PM, long after the last visitor has gone.

Send me an email to the gcsp address below, and you're in. And don't try to bring logic to the Federal Government; this is the largest National Park, and making anything happen is like herding cats or picking up mercury with a fork. They have a highly developed risk management process. BUT they cover us as National Park Service official volunteers for liability and medical, so we get what we get.


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skyguy88
sage


Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5727372 - 03/12/13 02:43 AM

Actually, you've had one more. 5 or 6 years ago, We came up for one night with my gear. Set up way out of the way, by the base of the trail leading up to the point.

Had to put the TV on the ground because it was threatening to blow over and take the table with it. Chairs did blow over. Then the battery for my TV died after about 90 minutes. What really impressed me was that at the Yavapai Lodge there was no wind at all.

I think that I've heard that there is much less wind at the new site.

I'll have to think about power.

Bill


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyguy88]
      #5728534 - 03/12/13 04:32 PM

Ah, that was before I was coordinating the show; I barely knew what I had! I knew about Nick's setup only because I worked with him.

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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5773088 - 04/02/13 02:46 PM Attachment (39 downloads)

GCSP T-shirt design for 2013…

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Skylook123
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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5774550 - 04/03/13 12:42 AM

Thanks, Joe. Hope you can join us this year.

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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
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Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5776867 - 04/04/13 12:39 AM

I just visited az .. Phooey. Visited Hopi reservation not the GC... never did a star party. Maybe next time.

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Kevdog
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 07/11/12

Loc: Desert Hills, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: lamplight]
      #5777536 - 04/04/13 12:14 PM

We have our camping site booked up and have done for a while.

Is there a link for information like where everything will be set up and such so I know where to go and when?

Didn't realize it was at the north rim as well. We'll be camping at the north rim a month afterwards, but maybe we'll do the star party at the north rim next year!

Thanks!


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Kevdog]
      #5778006 - 04/04/13 04:00 PM

The event on the South Rim will be in the commercial parking lot north of the main visitor center at night, and at various locations around the park during the day for solar/planet observing.

General information is at the South Rim URL in the first post in this thread.

If you are going to be one of the volunteer astronomers, you need to register with me at

gcsp [at] tucsonastronomy.org

so I can get you the information and forms you'll need for the park.

If you will be a visitor, just show up whenever you wish during the week. This is a public outreach event, but most visitors evaporate by about 10:30 PM so we get to have our own fun after that.


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Kevdog
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Reged: 07/11/12

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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5778129 - 04/04/13 04:52 PM

Thanks for the info!

I have a C11, but no battery system for power (I run off my camper when we're out camping with no electric hookup). So I think I'll just be a visitor this year at least.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Kevdog]
      #5778664 - 04/04/13 09:44 PM

Great. You can spend time getting great views from the 18"-28" scopes at 7000 feet.

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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5778813 - 04/04/13 11:44 PM

You can get great views through just about any scope up there!

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5778851 - 04/05/13 12:35 AM

That's true, but I still remember the time about five years or so ago when Roy Ang put the beta version of his latest image intensifier onto Dennis' 28" scope, and then they added the binoviewer. You tried to get me to look through it, but I didn't need to lust after more equipment. But you guys claimed you could see condos being built in Andromeda.

By the way, got my new Mallincam Junior yesterday, so of course it's overcast. First light was in the living room with the laptop and no scope.

Edited by Skylook123 (04/05/13 12:38 AM)


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skyward_eyes
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: lamplight]
      #5853554 - 05/11/13 10:53 AM

Jim,

Have you emailed out the Star Party Information packets?


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5855222 - 05/12/13 11:05 AM

No, this week sometime.

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5867784 - 05/17/13 05:40 PM

For those who have registered for the South Rim GCSP and are anticipating your registration packages, we've had to rewrite Marker Marshall's and my welcome letters. The changes in NPS funding caused a major personnel shuffle yesterday, and we will be losing a portion of our Interpretive Ranger support (two of the three from last year will not be part of the event), and the three park aids on duty until midnight has been reduced to one park aid terminating at 9:30 PM. We need to rewrite a bit, and some of us will need to pick up a few minutes of the setup/takedown tasks. I'll get the packages in the email this weekend.

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azpalmer
member


Reged: 06/11/09

Loc: Arizona
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5869280 - 05/18/13 12:58 PM

Jim,

As always, our RLD group will help anyway we can. Of course, we won't be there till Wed -- but will do whatever. Also, let us know setup locations that you & Marker want for our group. We should have about 10 scopes total.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: azpalmer]
      #5869584 - 05/18/13 03:31 PM

Thanks as always, Jim. I'll send you an email with some of what we think will be improvements in the setup. Bottom line, Marker is going to have us set up differently in a way that should provide a lot more space in the main area (set up on the sides, one path up the middle, like a two sided Yavapai setup), permanent setups on the west side where a cable fence can act as part of the isolation, plus using the southwest corner for handicap access to scopes (i.e. video and SCTs set for wheel chair access) without the climb through the site - at least three of us will have video capability.

One huge problem we've had over the last two years is that when you come around the Visitor Center, with its parking lot and pavilion lighting, into our inkwell, the scopes are literally invisible as are curbs and we've had several falls off the sidewalk each night. The scopes are even invisible to me coming out from the night talks, and I know where they are! The video in the southwest corner will be a beacon, and any glare will be oriented and isolated to avoid interference with the other scopes. I would anticipate RLD might be down in the main area with all the extra space we should have; that way, Jim Sauscavage can help me improve my Mallincam Junior skills.

Although it's disappointing about losing some of the great Ranger and park aid support, but all of the astronomers have always chipped in with a few minutes of help to pull it off. At least we don't have all those forty pound sandbags to move from Yavapai!


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azpalmer
member


Reged: 06/11/09

Loc: Arizona
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5874275 - 05/20/13 05:24 PM

Sounds good. I know I'll have an additional 6 traffic cones that have red leds in them we use for our programs -- if they'll help. Our group wants to minimize any impact on the rest of the astronomers. We look forward to seeing everyone again.

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BRCoz
professor emeritus
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Reged: 10/21/05

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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: azpalmer]
      #5896612 - 06/01/13 07:10 PM

I am planning for next year.

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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: azpalmer]
      #5896777 - 06/01/13 09:09 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

Quote:

Sounds good. I know I'll have an additional 6 traffic cones that have red leds in them we use for our programs -- if they'll help. Our group wants to minimize any impact on the rest of the astronomers. We look forward to seeing everyone again.




We'll know more after our check-out Friday night, and how we want to go. Marker has more cones from another Park agency, so we'll see how things shake out. We might try a new foot print, or stay as before with more help getting from the VC to the scopes. It really is an ink well coming around, so we'll work out what might work better.

We're all in this together. Our attempt is to make us "one group". Here is the new tent we'll use at the "information center" at Mather Aspen Loop Number 36. It will have a table with other information inside, and we're trying to get another mug shot wall going.


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: BRCoz]
      #5896779 - 06/01/13 09:11 PM

Quote:

I am planning for next year.




Got your email, Bruce. You're number four for 2014.


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seigell
member


Reged: 11/10/10

Loc: 'Burbs of Phoenix
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5897000 - 06/01/13 11:23 PM

Quote:

The changes in NPS funding caused a major personnel shuffle yesterday...




NPS really needs to learn that the "Park User Experience" is the Bigger Draw than the "Number of Park Enforcement Rangers", and find ways to overcome their "Institutionalized Stogginess" when it comes to Organized Special Events occuring in OUR National Parks.

Glad to see that they didn't simply Pull-the-Plug...


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seigell
member


Reged: 11/10/10

Loc: 'Burbs of Phoenix
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5897017 - 06/01/13 11:32 PM

Quote:

The changes in NPS funding caused a major personnel shuffle yesterday, and we will be losing a portion of our Interpretive Ranger support (two of the three from last year will not be part of the event), and the three park aids on duty until midnight has been reduced to one park aid terminating at 9:30 PM.




Does this mean that you'll have need for even more Volunteers to fill the gaps ?? Or were the Financial Considerations based on a set number of Volunteers ??


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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: seigell]
      #5897887 - 06/02/13 01:58 PM

When a special event occurs, one of the experienced Rangers is put in nominal charge, and prepares requests for personnel support and other special considerations like changing the bus schedule or making other facility schedule changes.

Up until about three years ago, we got one primary Interpretive Ranger (now Marker Marshall, for the last seven years), one Ranger assistan since overtime was not authorized and she was required to take Sunday and Monday nights off, and three park aids for traffic control but only until about 8 PM. The astronomers handled the take down of traffic signs and opening of the restroom windows.

For our first two years at the new site, the Visitor Center commercial parking area, Marker requested more support, and got some. We had three full time Rangers (Marker, another Interp, and a loaner astronomy specialist from Desert View) and four park aids until midnight. Great support. And the Grand Canyon Association, funded by donations and sales at the park book stores, kicked in over $1400 to buy new illuminated sign boards, traffic control signs, laser pointers for Ranger sky tours, deep cycle batteries, inverters, chargers, and red rope lights for foot traffic guidance. Quite an improvement. Then this March, the $1.3 million budget cut from sequester hit, and things changed. Laura Jevtich, the astronomy seasonal Ranger at Desert View and many other seasonals were not hired back. Marker was loaned one Ranger assistant with no astronomy experience or GCSP familiarity for her mandatory off days. And we are allowed one park aid until 9:30 PM. We astronomers will have to close up shop again, although at Yavapai that meant lugging 40 pound sand bags for the traffic barriers, while now it requires rolling up and securing the sets of red rope lights, getting the inverter and batteries secured and batteries on charge, and stowing the signs closing one parking lot to keep the light intrusion away.

We actually ARE being supported quite well compared to other horror stories I've heard of long time special interest events that have lost support because the bodies just aren't available. Even some of the major environmental impact studies like a light pollution survey and remediation have had to revert to donation and special Grand Canyon Association grant funding. Several of our volunteer astronomers from around North America will miss their first event in over 15 years or more due to furloughs due to the sequester. One good friend is cut back over 20% for five months with one week notice. He thought he was moving to a better job and took a bath on a home he'd been living in for decades, and found that the selling price was high enough that he owed a big donation to the IRS as well. Double whammy. Things are tough all around, and we long term volunteers remember when we were lucky to get one Ranger and an aid.

Truthfully, I worry more about the shortage of daytime support to the visitor load. I've seen how much help that a Ranger or park aid can be in culling the confused visitor from the herd and helping the rest of the visitors proceed with their visit. Doesn't take many lost or confused folks to cause many others to be impacted. We astronomer volunteers are accustomed to carrying our load where we can, but in the heat at altitude, things will be an exercise in coping skills.


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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5898791 - 06/03/13 12:06 AM

I'll probably have a scope set up here in NY for at least some of the nights. Do you have 2,600 miles of red rope lights?

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Skylook123
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Re: Grand Canyon Star Party, June 8 - 15, 2013 new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5898959 - 06/03/13 02:51 AM

For you, Joe, certainly. Let's see Christo top that! Wonder how it would look from the ISS.

We could have had you Skype in your presentation on how a space artist makes the universe look good, but the projector system in the theater is inoperative for parts that are on long back order, so we'll be doing it the old fashioned way, but indoors with a portable projector and maybe even the portable speaker box. REALLY like old times.

George Barber is the one who the IRS and work furlough are conspiring to keep away from us this year. Steve Ratts claims he'll pull off Huevos Rancheros despite the missing member of the cook staff.

We may do the talks with shadow puppets.


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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_One new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5911909 - 06/09/13 07:52 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: Mid 90s at Noon, Upper 80s at sunset, 80 when we quit at 11 PM. Clear skies, no wind, gorgeous night.

Seeing and Transparency: Reports were pretty good; I was so busy with other activities, I never looked through an eyepiece.

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.

Starting our third year at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, some changes were made in our adventure. We changed the telescope positionings to around the outer rim with the center section for set up and take down vehicles, and pededstrian traffic during the event.

Four of us made the trip this year. Fourteen year old grandson Stephan came as the dob driver, and 16 year old Karina is the 10" SCT with video imaging. We are trying to add a new capability for GCSP this year: accessibility for those with physical and/or visual difficulties that prohibit getting to, or seeing through, an eyepiece.

We came up on Friday night and did dry runs on the theater setup and marking off the telescope setup areas. All looks well for the future.

Saturday was the usual running around getting things organized. The banner got hung at the Visitor Center. We brought a screen tent for Ginger Applegarth's information center campsite which we quickly set up.

It has been unseasonably hot this year with temperatures up in the mid 90s. I quickly went over to the site and dropped off the two telescopes. The new imaging for acccessibility mission means that the big dob will be in the permanent setup location as usual, but the big SCT with the imaging capability will be set up at the entrance, which means no permanent setup and it is quite a chore to set up not only the scope as usual, but the table, Computer Cave, dual deep cycle battery systems for the monitor, mount, and computer, and table to hold it all. NOT fun at 96 degrees.

We got set up by 6 PM, and headed into the theater to do a dry run of the setup. Because of the sequester based staff reductions, the VC now closes at 5 PM so we can take our time setting up and making sure we are ready to go for the night talk. Then was our astronomer Otter Pop gathering, where a highlight was that we got to meet Laura Williams, the new hire for a special Grand Canyon Association project to reduce the lighting environment of Grand Canyon National Park.

Speaking of GCNP, I can't praise enough about, and be amazed by, the level of effort and quality of environment provided by our lead interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall, her assistant Ty Krolovetz, and the Park Aids who did all of the setup this year, both the elliminaton of the light intrusion as well as all of the traffic barrier setup, signboard construction, schedule production, and many more activities to make this all possible.

Predicted high winds never materialized, so I quickly collimated the big dob for Stephan to use on Polars. Then it was time to head into the theater for the night talk by John Anderson. We had a special kickoff this year when the Deputy Superintendant Diane Chalfant did the introduction to GCSP 2013. Quite an honor!

John's talk is on Galactic Morphology. What sounds like a dry topic, it is always one of the top two talks in visitor response. John explained the classification of galaxies, the history of understaning galactic structure, and showed amazing imagery of interacting galaxies. John's talk runs about 25 minutes, and we often get that long of great questions from the audience. We finally broke away to get out for the scopes and constellation tour.

Unfortunately, in the rush to get all the setting up done with two scopes about 300 feet apart, I neglected to leave Karina with the information she needed to set up the mount (lat/long, time zone offset from UTC, Daylight Savings Time), and and only a rough guess on polar alignment. In addition, when we had to go in for the talk it was still to bright to get either Venus or Saturn as an initial target. Since we were supposed to be the video imaging entrance for the visitors, not a good thing to do. Luckily, set up next to us was Bill McDonald and his Mallincam setup that he has been using for outreach events at Lowell Observatory for many years so we had a fall back location for the accessibility. I felt terrible abandoning Karina to a new situation, although we had done the setup practice for three nights at home. Too many changes, though. When I got to the scope, it was not useable because of some handset errors. So I jumped on it, got all the corrections in, found out she had done a near-perfect polar alignment, (later, no drift at 400X!), used Alignmaster to get two alignment stars taken care of, then set up the camera on Saturn. Had some initital trouble; had the settings for the last item we'd imaged, M13, which takes four seconds of integration time and no shutter level control. Saturn needs the opposite; no integration, shutter at 1/1000 second at those conditions. So, when I tried to focus and just got a basketball (but good Saturnian moons), I corrected the camera settings and WOW, beautiful Saturn. Visitors were loving it, but my surprise was how much they praised the attempt at allowing people with physical and optical difficulties the chance to share the views that we normally gifted folks see in an eyepiece. Wonderful service we were offering, and we actually, first time I can remember, had wheelchair and walker bound customers. And Bill had nebula images in his Mallincam VSS with long integration times so beautiful that words can't express. My little Junior can only go to four seconds, but 35+ seconds does wonders for teaching. For some reason he kept having alignment problems, and it took five stellar alignments to get his mount under control.

Then I broke away to give the 10 PM constellation tour. Great crowd of about 45, we walked around the sky and pointed out the usual landmarks and I added the many-culture aspect of what they were observing. I later was told by a group of five that they had heard I was doing the 10 PM and remember from last year that they really enjoyed hearing the Native Anerican, North African, and Eastern Mediteranean points of view, and how the same sight has different meanings to different cultures. LOTS of positive feedback afterwards.

Got back to the imaging station, all was well, then ran over to check on Stephan, who had been alone for over two hours with the big dob. What a show he was putting on! He knows the nature of multiple/binary arrangements, had his facts dean on correct, and was discussing stellar color versus temperature. AND, telling the Navajo family story about the Big Dipper, Polaris, and Cssiopeia. Oh my, were my expectations exceeded. He had done a couple of star parties with me and the scope, but I never expected his veteran quality of interacting with all comers, especially families with young kids. SO impressive.

We started to break down the setups around 11 PM when the visitor crowd evaporated. I put chalk circles around the leg positions, so the polar and stellar alignment, focus, and camera settings should be good enough that Karina will be able to start up at sunset. And, without having to fuss with it nearly as much, we will jump over to M13. We tried, but it was straight overhead and it put the visual back in a position that fine alignmet was impossible. Earlier on, the angle will allow an alignment eyepiece to pull the target to dead center in the visual back and that image will bring tears to your eyes.

We had a great Sunday Pizza Party, now ready to rock and roll for night two.

The adventure has begun!


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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Two new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5913318 - 06/10/13 03:08 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY TWO - A Good Ending To An Odd Day

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

Weather: Low 90s at Noon, Low 80s at sunset, under 50 when we quit at 11
PM. Occassional clouds, gusty winds, still a nice night.

Seeing and Transparency: Pretty crisp and steady, considering the gusts.

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 day started out hot again. It was the day of the welcome pizza party
in the campground, which has had a menu expansion thanks to our wonderful
information coordinator Ginger Applegarth and her husband Dr. Alan Delman.
They made up some great salad to go with the pizzas. This time my wife
Susan guessed right on the number to order, although I messed up her count by
insisting on changing one of the vegetarians to sausage. Should have gone
the other way. And, amazingly, the pissas were ready a half hour early!
We had a leisurely lunch with about 40 folks, then went back to rest up and
write yesterday's report.

After dinner we hit the site around 5:30. The temperature drop was
starting to be noticeable, and occasional wind gusts were worrisome since I would
be in the theater with the night talk while Stephen would be trying to
manage the big dob. A little after 6 PM I met with our speaker, Dr. Tyler
Nordgren, Astronomy Professor at Redlands University with his PhD from Cornell
University. Tyler is also on the board of directors of the International
Darksky Association, which focuses his attention to our affects on the night
sky. A superbly engaging person to interact with, his special area of
attention is intraction of the night skies with the National Parks and
protecting and recovering the night sky environment. He is also a gifted
photographer of the night sky, as well as an artist who provided the publicity
posters for the Annular Solar Eclipse events at four of the western national
parks last year.

Although dubious about the wind, I got Stephen collimated and ready to go,
and started up the Atlas with the right coordinates and time entries. The
plan was for Karina to do the skymap handouts at the theater as usual, then
head down and do a stellar alignment, go to Saturn, and start the video
show. A very pleasant surprise was to find that, due to equipment troubles,
Bill McDonald had to leave after one night but long time GCSP participant
Wayne Thomas showed up with three cameras to help out. However, he was
missing the right adapters for mounting the cameras. My long time observing
partner, John Anderson, had an adapter that would work with one of Wayne's
cameras although it took some duck tape patchwork to complete the
installation.

Dr. Nordgren's talk is entitled Stars Above, Earth Below; Astronomy In The
National Parks. He has travelled and written extensively on the topic, and
it shows in his presentation. Not a single bullet point; just awesome
night sky pictures that unite our need for the night sky with how it is being
affected around the world by humanity. His photography of the Milky Way as
seen at various parks, and the effects of light intrusion, tell an
incredible story. We had to adjust the displays on about a dozen of the pictures
so that they would work best with the theater system, and it came out
flawless. I highly recommend buying his book Stars Above, Earth Below:
Astronomy in the National Parks, proceeds of which are going to support of the
Grand Canyon Association light footprint reduction effort here at the Grand
Cayon, which I briefly mentioned in yesterday's observing report. We
actually started half an hour or so early, so Tyler could do an astronomy Q&A
befor starting the talk. He also volunteered to do the 10 PM Constellation
Tour. I was not surprised at all around 10:30 PM to hear a huge ovation at
the completion of his tour.

Now to our adventures. The wind picked up strongly after we went into the
theater. Stephen immediately shut down the big dob. Later I check on it,
at it was a perfect stowage, with the shroud and ballast perfectly
installed. GREAT kid.

As I was immersed in Tyler's tremendous talk and tour-de-force on National
Park skies, Susan snuck in found me and told me that the wind had blown the
Computer Cave box off the velcro restraints and took the box, camera and
monitor to the pavement. Oh Joy. And also had blown so hard that it had
swung the 10" SCT against the clutches and lost it's sense of position and
whatever little mind it had. So, when we were done, I ran out to the 10"
setup and found Karina had perfectly responded; she had the mount in Park, and
the equipment was stowed. I would later check out the monitor and camera
in the lodge, no apparent damage! So we were going visual, not video. I
showed her how to recover Park with an old trick of using a bulls-eye
level, rolling weights horizontal and setting RA to 6 Hr, leveling the OTA and
setting DEC to latitude. Rolled it all back to zero indicators, perfect
park. We rechecked Polar and it was OK, not great. Did a two star alignment,
again OK, not great, but could get targets in a low power eyepiece. But
the focus was set for camera use, so we pulled off the focus motor to get
more range of motion and got focus back in the eyeball range instead of
camera. By this time, I was shivering in the cold winds and the kids were kind
of stressed out about the problems although that had each performed
perfectly. So, I called Susan and she came back to pick them up and bring me a
jacket. Then the night became wonderful for my personal interests. I went
right to the Hercules Cluster, M-13, and it was awesome at about 120X. Next
hour and a half was showtime, with a great cluster of visitors with
insightful questions as I explained the half million old stars around a
super-massive black hole they were really seeing. Despite having to totally pack up
the whole site, I was really psyched - finally some eyepiece time with
visitors. Can't wait for tonight to get back to Hercules in the video
monitor. Now THAT will bring tears to your eyes. Then, we'll try PanSTARRS and
the Dumbbell so I can see what this camera will really do. Oh, and we have
the meteor shower predicted for around 1:30 AM local time. This is due to
a long period comet that last demonstrated a shower in the 1930s, with a
Zenith Hourly Rate of 30 in a full moon. With a one day old moon, we might
be in for a real treat!

Tried some solar this morning, clouds in the way. I'm the speaker
tonight, so gotta get my act together.

The adventure continues!


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skyguy88
sage


Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_One new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5913825 - 06/10/13 07:22 PM

Jim,

Wonderful Site, Wonderful group, Wonderful sky!!

I'm distressed that I had to abandon the effort after just one night. I was concerned about the adequacy of my borrowed power system for a second night, but what settled my decision to leave was the certainty of not getting back to Prescott until 3AM on Monday and being a zombie for our graduation trip to New Hampshire.

Saturday night was an adventure. In over 150 programs I've never had to redo an alignment more than once...Five tries to get it right is a real embarrassment. My guess is that I aligned on wrong stars (I might be the only guy around to complain about too many stars). What really puzzles me is that at no time on Saturday did I get the "alignment failed" message. Eventually, I smartened up and selected unequivocal stars (Arcturus, Vega...) and all was well. Late, but well. My first couple of alignment stars are normally a couple of degrees off and then it gets progressively better. I keep adding stars until one of them ends up within an arcsec or so of screen center. That usually takes 4-5 stars. So I did more than 20 stars. 20 stars worth of crawling and twisting plus a strained knee that I arrived with left me really sore the next morning.

One of the things that I missed was having a screen for presenting predark material. I use the ultra deep field, a galaxy center black hole animation, and a few other images that generate interest before the sky takes over. I had all the equipment that I need, but didn't want to use power early. Next time. Just did a recharge on the battery. The camera and display consumed roughly 17 amp-hrs. So I could have run the early display and it would have been OK for one night.

I finally got nice views of M27,8,20,51,17, a tiny fraction of the 23 object list that I had checked out a couple of nights earlier. I'm not overjoyed with the 24 inch screen (20 inches at 4X3). It's OK at 6 feet but pixilated up close. I've tried a video upscaler, Svideo to HDMI, but that didn't help much.

I was concerned about pointing the screen toward your setup. I suspect that a better solution would have put me across the entrance from you with visitor access on the outside so the screen would face away from other scopes...or I could have set up farther into the street with visitors observing from the outside. I sure don't like to have bright light in my face when I'm aligning and hate to do it to someone else.

Have a wonderful week. I look forward to doing this again with better command of power and scope and no other travel commitments.

Bill


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BRCoz
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Reged: 10/21/05

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Two new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5913829 - 06/10/13 07:23 PM

Jim,

I look forward to these reports each day. I cannot wait until next year when I can attend.


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skyward_eyes
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Reged: 12/12/06

Loc: California
Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Two new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5914293 - 06/10/13 11:21 PM

Looks good Jim! Looking forward to getting up there. Ive got a new to me C14 Im bringing up so looking forward to see what it can do.

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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Three new [Re: skyward_eyes]
      #5915337 - 06/11/13 03:57 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY THREE - The Wind Decides To Move In

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 80s at Noon, 70s at sunset, DOGGONE cold and windy until 11 PM when we broke up. Clear sky, gusty winds.

Seeing and Transparency: The wind gusts are stealing the seeing. Transparency not as good as the last two nights, although my cue, Canes Venatici, had both main stars easily visible.

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.

Temperatures are definitely back to normal, but the winds are very gusty. I don't think, based on forecasts, that the big dob will be available for use for the rest of the stay.

We did the usuall setup of the Atlas and video system, without the Computer Cave. I wrapped a thin bungee cord around the thin support neck of the monitor, and hooked the ends to the slats in the observing table. Despite the heavy wind gusts, the monitor was steady while the optical tube of the SCT was shaking like a castinet.

I did the talk tonight. I call it "What's To See", an overview of what to expect at the sccopes. Brief stellar evolution, how the sun works, lunar fun facts, what a constellation is and why we have 88, what's a globular and open cluster, a galaxy, a nebula, and ending with man-made objects in space. Lot's of great questions afterward.

Got down to the scope and found a stack of problems. The Telrad was badly misaligned, which meant what Karina was aligning on was way off. And Karina was having a blood sugar event and was totally exhausted so, since Stephen had lost two nights with the big dob due to the winds, we sent Karina back to the lodge with my wife Susan and I started training Stephen in the setup.

Because we were using optical alignment prior to installing the camera, the focus was so far off the image of Saturn was invisible. I applied some tricks to blow out the image then converge back, got it all fixed, and Saturn once again was gorgeous. I left the setup with Stephen, and went away to do the 10 PM tour. Got back at 10:30, Saturn still in the monitor center, but it was so cold and windy that it was difficult to even concentrate. No visitor customers for about 20 minutes, so, rather than my original goals of going to PanSTARRS and some nebulae to see how the camera setup would do, in between the shivers we packed up and were out of there by 11:30.

When visitors see that display, despite the small image (I'm using an f/6.3 reducer to get more light on the chip), they are amazed. Quite an asset for this event!


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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Three new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5915344 - 06/11/13 04:00 PM

I hate those cold, windy nights. I hope Karina is feeling better.

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Skylook123
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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Four new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5917611 - 06/12/13 07:51 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY FOUR - Clouds Roll In

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

Weather: Low 80s at Noon, Low 70s at sunset, chilly at night but completely overcast until after about 9:30, gradually clearing after we packed up.

Seeing and Transparency: Total overcast with occasional sucker holes. Later clearing after about 10 PM, but we were packed up by 10:45.

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.

Today was very interesting; the total sky coverage should have kept visitors away, but many turned out anyway.

We did the usuall setup of the Atlas and video system, same as yesterday. Then we found that the three-way splitter to get power to the mount, camera, and monitor had died. Two deep cycle batteries, only two outlets available. In a stroke of brilliance, I took the battery from the big dob cooler fans and it had a socket connector that worked for the monitor, only drawing 20 watts. We were ready, if the sky ever cleared.

Marilyn Unruh did her usual great talk; no slides, only props are a softball sized sphere on a stick, and two quarters. Her three topics were Have You Seen The Shadow Of The Earth, great examples of how the curtain of the night pulls across the sky from the Belt of Venus until astronomical twilight ends. Then came Telescopes As Time Machines, where distances to objects near and far are given scale, such as if the solar system were the size of a quarter on the ground in Colorado, the Milky Way would be the size of all North America. Finally, Using Your Five Senses At Night. No slides, great talk.

Got down to the scope and found a pretty ugly sky. Dr. Alan Delman and I did all three of the constellation tours. Well, sky tours; for the most part we had Spica, Vega, and Saturn trying to burn through, and an occasional asterism. So we handed out skymaps we usually give out at the night talk and demonstrated how to use them, then did a cultural discussion of why cultures look up, and what the got from it. Surprised the heck out of me when it went so well! Great discussions; one I really remember was a question a visitor asked about common lore among Inca/Aztec cultures, and Native Americans. I had one example relating the need of the Chaco culture to follow the moon, and noticing the July 4, 1054 supernova in Taurus (now M1, the Crab Nebula) visible for 23 days in daylight starting July 5. There is some Inca evidence of observing the event as well. Then I mentioned the Mimbres pottery symbol of the moon as an arched rabbit. But there is one moon symbol in Mimbres pottery where the rabbit appears to be dancing on a ball with small rays. It was usually thought to be the moon and sun symbols, but if the spikes on the ball are counted, there are 23; the same number of days the supernova was visible in daylight. The person who asked the question about common lore, has a Mimbres pottery piece with that very symbol, and the crowd was very impressed. So we did more cultural talk about elements breaking through the clouds, and Alan was sharp enough to point out that the crescent moon was breaking through the clouds. Amazing what we could accomplish in 30 minutes with no sky to speak of. We mixed in a little Navajo, Greek, Seminole, and other cultural elements as sucker holes started opening. Quite successful event, I must say.

I got back to the scope, and found that Susan, Stephen, and Karina were ready to quit, and my feet were killing me too, but the sky was clearing. We packed up anyway; of the 35 telescopes starting the night, about 30 were still there and visitors were arriving in small groups. Astronomy under the clouds, great group of volunteers who stuck with it. And the clouds helped Wayne Thomas get a great view of Saturn in his monitor; the reduced illumination matched his 30hz frame rate perfectly.

As much as I wanted to experiment, we were all physically depleted so we packed and left the site about 11 PM, and I saw at least a dozen scopes at work with visitors. Tough fight, but we won the battle.


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Five new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5918948 - 06/13/13 02:58 PM

Grand Canyon Star Party - DAY FIVE - Clouds Roll Out

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

Weather: Low 80s at Noon, Low 70s at sunset, 60s during our time there tonight. Sky was mostly covered until about 10 PM, then exploded in glorious starlight.

Seeing and Transparency: Sucker holes early, clearing quite a bit after 10 PM. Seeing, despite the upper layer winds, was almost as good as last weekend. Moisture still interfered a bit, but better than the last few nights.

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.

Just as yesterday, the early total sky coverage should have kept visitors away, but many turned out anyway.

Wayne Thomas rescued us during setup. He had a spare splitter, so I was able to run the mount, monitor, and camera from the two deep cycle batteries. Once again, we were ready for the sky to clear as predicted.

My counterpart for GCSP from the National Park Service, Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall, did her perfect presentation: Starry, Starry Nights, the universe as seen from Grand Canyon National Park. It is sort of a basic introduction to the structure of the solar system and Milky Way, factually rich yet expressed in a way to give a feeling of distance and comparative size of common visible artificats of the Grand Canyon night sky. I always learn a lot from her style and construction of presentation; great skills to learn from a professional.

Back at the scopes, the sky was still mostly obscurred by cloud but my wife Susan had the scope on Saturn, and it was a beautiful view. With the blockage of the sky so extreme, I decided not to interrupt and start the video since the 9PM sky tour was about to start. I went over to help Alan Delman with the tour; he was baking the cake, my job was to put the cultural frosting on the physical sky descriptions. We had various sky elements popping in and out, so we were able to do a good job at the physical nature of the sky, and wrap it in a bit of how other cultures would look at what we were now seeing.

I stuck around and did the 9:30 and 10 tours, and the sky was rapidly opening up. The Milky Way, rising above the trees, was starting to scream at us to look in wonder. The southern end, in Sagittarius, surprised one visitor because it cast a small shadow. Those to groups got the "gift" of being able to brag about looking at a black hole, the core of our galaxy. The understood that they couldn't really "see" the black hole, but now they could brag that they looked toward one. We were able to touch on the nature of looking to the sky to bring a real or imagined structure to life, as cultures have always been called to do. The Seminole concept of the Great Rift in the Milky Way looking like arms, and the comfort it brings in this season to see it rise and imagine that the Great Spirit has his people protected in his arms, gets a great reaction. With the opening and closing of the sky at various times, ending with a mostly wike open view, allowed all three groups to get both the physical structure of the ecliptic, Polaris, precession of the poles, core of the galaxy, and the last two groups got the extra benefit of the North Galactic Pole being quite visible next to Mel-111, the Coma Berenices Open Cluster (plus the legend of it's origin). VERY enthusiastic groups who joined us despite the early skies being obscured.

I got back to the scope, and because the wind had died down grandson Stephen had started up the big dob. He had wanted to know which eyepiece to use, so at the start of the 9:30 tour I told him to take and eyepiece I knew was a 26mm wide angle. He took the wrong one, a 9mm Nagler, and was showing a humongous Saturn but having to ladder climb every three visitors to recenter. He had been hiking most of the day, his legs were giving out, so he went over to Polaris and did his multiple star show.

Meanwhile, with Susan and granddaughter Karina having left, I said what the heck, and fired up the video. This is always a bit of a thrash since the focus has to be so extremely adjusted but I got it in and it was a screamer. So, for the first time with this object, I switched on the internal zoom and the doggone thing filled about 20% of the 13.3" monitor. Visitors marvelled at the huge view, lucky shot on the focus, Cassini division in plain sight, great shadow band on the planet, and a nice V shadow against the rear ring plane. Oh WOW.

Then the usual equipment gremlin. Karina and used a velcro tie to take up some of the slack in the dual power/data line from the camera, and I went to try the Hercules Cluster. In the dark I hadn't noticed the cord path, and the cluster was in the same meridian as Saturn so the mount did not follow the cord unwrap algorithm. Luckily, I noticed what was happening just in time and was able to catch the camera in mid flight as the cord pulled it out of the visual back. Good thing I hadn't tightened it too snugly. But the adventure killed the 12V power cord. Had a spare, swapped it out, gave up on M13 since I had to be on the ground to center it overhead, and Stephen helped pack up. It was 1 AM! Totally lost track of time, but Saturn was SO gorgeous in the monitor it was worth it.

Getting ready for a public service outreach we do every year over at the Kaibab Learning Center, where I'll set up on the Moon with the SCT, and Sun in the Lunt, (Video on this one), and do some teaching before tonight's show.

Can't wait to get back to other video treats tonight!!


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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Six new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5920704 - 06/14/13 02:26 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.


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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Seven new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5922397 - 06/15/13 02:35 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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Skylook123
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Re: GCSP_South_Rim_Day_Eight new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5924752 - 06/17/13 01:19 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!


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Mike Wiles
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Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: Goodyear, AZ
North Rim Report new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5927438 - 06/18/13 12:29 PM

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


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bob71741
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Mike Wiles]
      #5928073 - 06/18/13 06:50 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.


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Mike Wiles
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: Goodyear, AZ
Re: North Rim Report new [Re: bob71741]
      #5928195 - 06/18/13 08:07 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.


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Skylook123
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Mike Wiles]
      #5928364 - 06/18/13 10:35 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!


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Skylook123
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5928416 - 06/18/13 11:19 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

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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Skylook123
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5928458 - 06/18/13 11:47 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

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.

Edited by Skylook123 (06/18/13 11:53 PM)


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Kevdog
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5939575 - 06/25/13 11:40 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!


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Skylook123
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Kevdog]
      #5940712 - 06/26/13 12:11 AM Attachment (39 downloads)

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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tecmageModerator
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5946065 - 06/29/13 07:37 AM

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


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Skylook123
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Re: North Rim Report new [Re: tecmage]
      #5967015 - 07/12/13 09:21 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……..


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Thanks From NPS new [Re: Skylook123]
      #6046206 - 08/25/13 11:43 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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