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Grand Canyon Star Party, June 9 through June 16, 2018

outreach star party
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#1 Skylook123

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 06:02 PM

The 28th annual Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP) will be held June 9 through 16, 2018, in northern Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. GCSP is an annual collaboration between the National Park Service and astronomers from around North America and often the world to bring astronomy outreach to Park visitors.  New Moon will be June 13, mid-week, making giving us dark skies for most of the week while providing a few days of crescent moon for the visitors on the last few nights.

 

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. Visitors 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 accommodate 80 or more telescopes, and we have not had to limit South Rim attendance thus far. The ten or so North Rim slots on the Lodge veranda, however, usually are accounted for by the end of February.

 

In general, volunteer astronomers should pre-register with the coordinator for the Rim they wish to join.  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.  For the South Rim, we have space reserved for larger instruments, and a second reserved area at the entrance for live video setups, that may be left in place for the duration.

 

Visitor attendance at the Grand Canyon National Park has increased by 50% over the last four years, and lodging has become difficult to get less than four or five months in advance.  In fact, Trailer Village has been filled for the June event as early as January for the last two years.  If you are planning to attend, make reservations at the earliest opportunity.  Accommodation information can be found at the web sites below.

 

At the South Rim component, over the past several years the day time outreach has grown significantly, with daytime hands-on demonstrations on astronomical topics at the Main Visitor Center and occasionally in the Bright Angel area, indoor demonstrations at the visitor center, and solar, lunar, and planetary observing during the day around the park.  Also at the South Rim, at the Visitor Center theater we will have a variety of nightly presentations by a great group of speakers as the twilight deepens.

 

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

http://www.saguaroas...nStarParty.html

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

 

South Rim

http://tucsonastrono...yon-star-party/

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


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#2 edwincjones

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 08:08 AM

I attended both the North and South Rim parties about 10 years ago and had a great time;

have reservations for South Rim now and hope to be there.

The canyon, dark skies, condors-a great place to be.

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 11 December 2017 - 08:14 AM.

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#3 Skylook123

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 11:08 AM

Great to hear, Ed.  As a South Rim group, we've enhanced our outreach to the visitors in a lot of ways over the years.  Daytime activities by volunteers has greatly increased with a number of demonstration and educational events (a group of us even did a full day astronomy education session with Youth Conservation Corps. students last year), and a few years ago we added three nightly Constellation Tours for visitors interested in cultural and astronomical night sky exploration. 

 

The biggest improvement is relocating to a location without traffic, so we've not had to dodge shuttle buses for the last eight years.  In about 10 years, we've nearly doubled the nightly visitor attendance.  Last year our highest formal count was over 1,600 visitors.  A great chance to share knowledge and environmental awareness, and introduce a lot of visitors to their home universe.  You never know what life you'll touch, or might even touch yours.


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#4 skyward_eyes

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 11:31 AM

Been booked for several months now. Looking forward to another year. We may have some other new additions to RLD this year. 



#5 Skylook123

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 11:07 PM

Looking forward to it!  Missed you at Joshua Tree, but Jim, Chris, and Vicki filled it quite nicely.



#6 FlyingBanana

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Posted 02 March 2018 - 10:53 AM

I'm road tripping to the GCSP from Iowa. My campsite at Mather has been booked for weeks. Man am I excited!! waytogo.gif



#7 Skylook123

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Posted 02 March 2018 - 05:25 PM

Glad you'll be there.  We do have a couple of new features planned, with Lowell Observatory possibly doing some day time public outreach and night participation, and a few other additional wrinkles including some new software improvements in the Main Visitor Center's Science on a Sphere demonstration room, which will feature astronomical displays and video during the day.  While the big ball at the center of the seats is usually a geographical Earth based display, there will be other planet surfaces cycling through.

 

Just a quick  reminder, I need an email at the address below from folks who want to be a volunteer with a scope so I can get the Welcome and Information package out to you.  If you are just passing through, it's easier at times to look through a dozen other folk's setup than to set up your own and showing the sky to four or five hundred of your new closest friends.



#8 skyward_eyes

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 12:53 PM

Looking forward to it Jim. So far I think the count for RLD is 15 telescopes this year. 



#9 Skylook123

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 01:53 PM

Looking forward to it Jim. So far I think the count for RLD is 15 telescopes this year. 

RLD ROCKS!



#10 skyward_eyes

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 02:11 PM

Planning on bringing my newly acquired Meade 178ED apo. this year. Waiting for the 28" f/3.3 to be finished, maybe one more year than it will make its way to GCSP. 



#11 skyward_eyes

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 01:08 PM

Just so everyone knows. I was just informed that ADOT is doing work on the I17/I40 interchange as you come in the Flagstaff. You may want to check what ramps are closed when the week of GCSP comes up. There might be more traffic than usual coming into Flag. You can find information here: ADOT



#12 Skylook123

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 02:21 PM

Just so everyone knows. I was just informed that ADOT is doing work on the I17/I40 interchange as you come in the Flagstaff. You may want to check what ramps are closed when the week of GCSP comes up. There might be more traffic than usual coming into Flag. You can find information here: ADOT

Thanks for the heads up, Kevin.  I'll check the schedule and get the word out with the volunteer Welcome packages.



#13 Skylook123

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 03:26 PM

Planning on bringing my newly acquired Meade 178ED apo. this year. Waiting for the 28" f/3.3 to be finished, maybe one more year than it will make its way to GCSP. 

 

Saw that gorgeous refractor at Tucson Festival of Books in March.  I think it and its mount have their own gravity and magnetic field.

 

I hope you can get the 28" completed for next year's GCSP.  Aperture Rules!.



#14 skyward_eyes

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:26 AM

Looks like we finally pinned down doing a night photography lesson for Friday night at 10pm.

This is a free hands in workshop for those wanting to learn how to capture their own images of the Milky Way using their camera.

#15 Skylook123

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:14 AM

Looks like we finally pinned down doing a night photography lesson for Friday night at 10pm.

This is a free hands in workshop for those wanting to learn how to capture their own images of the Milky Way using their camera.

Sounds great, weather cooperating.  Down here in Tucson, we've had abnormal cloud patterns obscuring many nights, although we had a good weekend out in the Chiricahua area south of Willcox, with our Friday night club event using the 40" Reynolds-Mitchell scope and then a star party for the Chiricahua National Monument on Saturday night.

 

I'll send a note to Interpretive Ranger Rader Lane about Friday night workshop plans to make sure it's still in his thinking.



#16 Jwemes

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 02:58 PM

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has started a number of construction projects involving I40, between Williams, AZ and Flagstaff.  Currently, there are reduced speed, single lane sections, and the associated time delays.  Before arriving for the GCSP, check the following web site for highway conditions, including closures.  AZ511.gov

 

Northbound traffic on I17 to I40 West is being detoured East several miles, before being allowed to resume a Westerly direction.

 

The speeding ticket revenue stream system was in full operation on 5/7/2018.


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#17 Skylook123

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 05:31 PM

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has started a number of construction projects involving I40, between Williams, AZ and Flagstaff.  Currently, there are reduced speed, single lane sections, and the associated time delays.  Before arriving for the GCSP, check the following web site for highway conditions, including closures.  AZ511.gov

 

Northbound traffic on I17 to I40 West is being detoured East several miles, before being allowed to resume a Westerly direction.

 

The speeding ticket revenue stream system was in full operation on 5/7/2018.

Thanks for the reminder.  I'll have a notice in the welcome package to alert folks.

 

Down here in Tucson, much of Tangerine between I-10 and Oracle Rd. has been under construction for what seems to be forever, and Oracle northbound was also carrying a 25 MPH restriction for many miles but at least that one's complete.  I do a lot of outreach at Biosphere 2, Oracle State Park, and Catalina State Park and it seems necessary to pack along a mid-trip meal from home in Marana.

 

I'll bet the cash registers have been spinning like a slot machine or pin ball game.



#18 skyward_eyes

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 12:45 PM

One week away! Time certainly flew by.

#19 Skylook123

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 12:51 PM

One week away! Time certainly flew by.

Yeah, this is the time my blood pressure gets to four digits for a couple of weeks!

 

See you at the Big Ditch.



#20 saguaro

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 12:20 PM

Hi Jim,

 

I won't be attending this year, but I always look forward to your daily updates from the event. In case you're interested, I created a new topic in the Star Parties forum here: https://www.cloudyni...arty-june-9-16/



#21 skyward_eyes

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 08:19 AM

I’m hoping the weather improves later in the week. Wednesday on I’m seeing clouds and rain possibly.

#22 Skylook123

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 06:58 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY ONE - Awful Wind, Huge Temperature Shift

 

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

 

Weather: 88F mid-day, 85F at sunset, 49F when we quit near 11:30 PM. Perfectly clear sky.  Winds at 10 MPH with constant gusts to over 30 MPH.  Made for a very uncomfortable night unless one dressed like an Arctic resident.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Since I was doing live video, it was hard to nail down but transparency was quite clear, while seeing was greatly disturbed by the wind.

 

Equipment:
10" Meade SCT on Celestron AVX mount
Mallincam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor.

 

I started off on Day 0, Friday night, after our theater checkout.  Theater worked perfectly, and we were done in less than an hour.  I tried to set up the video system to get an early start on the the polar and stellar alignments, but had a world of trouble with dead main power supply line from the inverter, switched to straight DC but two of those cables were dead.  I had a spare power block from my older Atlas EQ-G and was able to move on. Then I noticed the parking brake on the truck popped out, and it started rolling backward down our sloped observing site.  It jumped a curb at the entrance and got high centered on the side foot rails, no wheels on the ground. I used AAA to get the local wrecker service, and about an hour later they got me off the curb.  No damage, thankfully. 

 

Back to the scope, the GOTOs were way off, so I gave up until tomorrow to troubleshoot. Too cold and windy to concentrate.  But I was able to talk with about 35 visitors passing through the site and talk up the star party.

 

Day 1 I hung the banner in front of the visitor center and started to prepare my introduction for the night talk, given by Dr. Lisa Prato,tenured astronomer at Lowell Obertvatory.  More later.

 

At the site, I started troubleshooting the setup.  All the power was working, so I went to balance.  Dead perfect.  Needed dark sky to continue, but Interpretive Ranger Rader Lane and I need to be in the theater before sunset, so my setup would be dark until we got done at 9 PM.

 

I must say that the most volunteers who have ever registered with me in the past was 90, while this year over 110 signed up.  Usually about 25% more just show up and register with the Rangers, and while usually we have about 35 scopes on Night 1, I think we had almost 50, with a packed audience all night.

 

Usually we start at 8 PM or when the 233 capacity is reached, about the same time.  Tonight we opened the doors around 7:40, and were filled at 7:50 so we were off and running.  Dr. Prato is a very dynamic speaker. Her primary reasearch is finding and studying close, new forming binary stars in order to examine their solar disks.  Her topic was How To Make A Planet.  Very exciting to present brand new data to study spectral content of the dust clouds in the new forming planetary disks to study the mechanisms of how planets are born.  The audience loved the topic. 

 

We again raffled off a telescope provided by Sky-Watcher and Kevin Legore's Focus Astronomy foundation through the Grand Canyon Association (Virtuoso 90mm Mak-Cass on a tracking mount, including two eyepieces, finderscope, solar filter and can even be used as a timelapse/panning photographic mount).  It was won by a 15 year old young lady who was thrilled to start her path toward an astrophysics Nobel Prize.

 

I was doing the 9:30 PM Constellation Tour, so after the talk I had 25 minutes to troubleshoot.  I did a quick balance check and powered up, all good.  I then redid a stellar alignment with five stars, and crossed my fingers.  First GOTO was to Globular Cluster M4.  Dead center, and I had selected a perfect integration time with red giants within the cluster easily visible.  I did the glob story for one group of about 20 visitors, turned it over to my wife Susan (former high school astronomy teacher), and made it to the constellation tour with 4 minutes to spare.  I was shocked; the temperature had dropped to low 50s but feeling frigid with the wind gusts from the Northwest at over 30 MPH.  Yet, 75 visitors were waiting!  It's been a while since I did a good tour with a large group. I positioned ourselves so we could see the entire available ecliptic path through the visible planets (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn)and did the compare/contrast of the difference between the ecliptic and the zodiac, with the meaning of the Greek root works converting the Greek terminology of Zodiakos Kyklos, the apparent annual cycle of the sun's daytime path through living entities, and comparing to the ecliptic, the line along which eclipses occur since the Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted only about 5 degrees.

 

Then I jumped into how we name astronomical items based on the International Astronomical Union's efforts in the late 1920s.  This was a tremendous advance for codifying the scientific identification of objects, but I pointed out two elements that were ironic about the naming convention.  By naming the planets after their Roman names, we got Mars but lost Ares, both meaning the God of War.  But we lose the connection to Antares, the red giant heart of the Scorpion.  Antares, for the Greek reference, is the destination of the spirits of soldiers who have died bravely in battle.  Now it's just a star name, unless one checks the genesis.  A second irony is the naming of stars generally in accoradance with their Arabic names except for a few special cases like Cor Caroli or Regulus.  If we check the names of stars in Libra's triangle, we get Zubenesschamali (Claw North) and Zubenelgenubi (Claw South).  What do claws have to do with the scales of justice?  Well, with constellations getting their Greek/Latin names, there's Libra.  But the Arabic traders saw those to stars as the claws of the Scorpion.  The IAU declawed the Scorpion.

 

We spent some time on the Milky Way and the Seminole concept of the arms of the creator protecting his creation, comparing members of the Summer Triangle with some Canadian First Nations use of Cygnus, the entire Ursa Major and legends of Mizar and the deer tracks for feet and compared the Big Dipper to the Elephant of Creation, the story of Coma Berenices, and much more.

 

We did a lot more in the sky, comparing the known identification of the Greek references with Hindu, several Native American terminologies, and even Egyptian, North African and Sumerian visions.  The audience was having their curiosities challenged, and they loved it.  I finally ended my tour arounnd 9:35 to head back, but at least forty visitors wanted to stay and talk some more. So we went more into the science of the colors of stars, and more mythology of some key features.

 

I finally got to the scope at around 10:15 and there was M4, still in the screen.  The wind jitter on the telescope was playing havoc with the purity of the image; one cycle a few dozen stars, next cycle with hundreds of thousands of white diamonds in the group.  I decided to go on to The Ring nebula, only needing a few seconds of integration, and it was awesome.  Sharp colors, great couple of white dwarves in the middle, a great teaching object.  After a while I went over to The Dumbbell for a while, but needing to up the integration time due to lower surface brightness and the vibration was just to strong.  Mike Barsotti next to me, with a MallinCam Jr. Pro, actually had a great image of M27, optimum settings on the monitor and camera giving a breathtaking view.

 

I went on to The Whirlpool (M51) and later The Cigar (M82) galaxies, but the wind played havoc with the color and contrasts in the images.

 

I finally broke things down after 11:30, visitors thrilled at our three MallinCam setups and an additional astrophotography camera on a C11, but we were all shivering and the wind stayed awful the whole night.  Pizza Party tomorrow!


Edited by Skylook123, 10 June 2018 - 07:04 PM.

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#23 skyward_eyes

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 07:39 PM

Thanks for sharing Jim. Glad the scopes are doing well for the giveaway. They should be a big upgrade from the little dobs.

Looking forward to getting up there on Wednesday.

I’m already booked for next year and thinking about doing the whole week.

#24 Skylook123

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:16 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY TWO - Wind Eases Off, Cold Evening

 

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

 

Weather: 88F mid-day, 82F at sunset, 49F when we quit near 11:30 PM. Perfectly clear sky.  Winds at 4 MPH with occasional gusts to about 10 MPH.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Since I was doing live video, it was hard to nail down but transparency was quite clear, while seeing was occasionally disturbed by the wind.  Probably more from scope jitter.

 

Equipment:
10" Meade SCT on Celestron AVX mount
Mallincam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor.

 

Today was our club thank you to the volunteers by throwing an early afternoon pizza party.  Three hours outside was pleasant compared to the last two scorching years in the gorgeous pine forest.  I was hoping that the scope would maintain last night's alignment.

 

At the site, I unpacked the setup.  Everything seemed well, but impossible to tell until dark.  Our setup in the theater takes up a lot of the pre-sunset time, so my telescope would be dark until we got done at 9 PM.

 

I must say that the most volunteers who have ever registered with me in the past was 90, while this year over 110 signed up.  Usually about 25% more just show up and register with the Rangers, and while usually we have about 35 scopes on Night 1, I think we had almost 50, with a packed audience all night.

 

We were at capacity in the theater early and started the show at 7:50 PM.  Our speaker tonight was Dean Regas, Dean has been the Astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory since 2000. He is a renowned educator, a national popularizer of astronomy and an expert in observational astronomy, as well as being the co-host of the PBS nightly Star Gazers television short, following in the footsteps of the late Jack Horkeimer.  Dean is an awesome communicator.  He is the author of the books "Facts From Space!" and "100 Things to See in the Night Sky". Dean is a Contributing Editor to Sky and Telescope Magazine and a contributor to Astronomy Magazine, where he won 2008 “Out-of-this-World” Award for astronomy education.  Since 2012 Dean has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow, and this year he began an outstanding astronomy podcast with Anna Hehman called "Looking Up!"

 

Tonight, his program showed us a Tour of the Universe: You Are Here.
He presented a fascinating unveiling of the size of the universe, starting locally with the Earth and Moon, and using Mintaka and Starry Night Pro, expanded the exposition from local, then the rocky planets, out to the gas giants, the sun's long reach and out to the Oort cloud, then local stars, our galaxy out to other galaxies, and finally out the the full Universe we know, in many different alternative points of view, well laced with humor and at a scale where the elementary school children in our audience were very actively involved.  An awesome presentation, an he was like a Pied Piper after the talk as he headed over to the book store to answer questions and sign copies of his two books. 

 

We again raffled off a Sky-Watcher Virtuoso 90mm Mak-Cass telescope, provided by Sky-Watcher and Kevin Legore's Focus Astronomy foundation through the Grand Canyon Association.  It was won by a very young lady who was thrilled to start her path toward an astrophysics Nobel Prize.

 

Back at the scope I found the alignment was off, so I re-did that part and went to M15, the Hercules cluster.  But I noticed that it started to drift off the screen.  Then I saw from the hand controller that there was a power interruption and the mount had lost its mind as well as, apparently, polar alignment.  Then I found that the front leg has loosened and the mount was way off polar in both AZ and El.  I releveled the AVX using the equipment tray and lowering the rear two legs and tightend the leg locks (grandson Stephen's idea; I was trying to lift the scope and adjust the front leg!).  I redid a six star alignment, and the rest of the night was pretty much uneventful other than changing my observing plan to M4 globular cluster, spending time with the visitors on The Ring Nebula, M57, and then visiting some of the eye candy in Sagittarius (globular cluster M22 was spectacular, emission nebulae with open clusters M8, The Lagoon, and M17, The Swan, Omega, Check Mark and other names for this one) pretty much finished off the cold night.  Every step of the way, I explain all the mechanical operations I was doing, and then the science of the object in view.  I always had about five to 20 curious visitors who were intrigued to look behind the curtain on how we were providing the wonderful views.  It was fortunate that I didn't have a constellation tour tonight, but all night as I worked on recovering the system I stopped at times and did lots of cultural education on the way to getting the system recovered.

 

I finally broke things down after 11:30, visitors thrilled at our three MallinCam setups and an additional astrophotography camera on a C11, but we were all shivering and it was still colder than I like.



#25 DeanS

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:22 PM

Pictures would be nice too ;)

 

Thanks for the updates.




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