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

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#26 Skylook123

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 01:28 PM

Pictures would be nice too wink.gif

 

Thanks for the updates.

I strongly agree, but we found both my and my wife's personal cameras somehow turned inoperative when we arrived Friday night.  For the time being, we will be depending on the kindness of other volunteers to share their pictures with us.



#27 skyguy88

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

Hi Jim,

 

If you find yourself at M51, try a short slew to NGC4565. It is a big edge-on spiral. Using the two, you get a really nice 3D like perspective of spiral galaxies. It would be even better if you have two setups side by side with M51 on one and NGC4565 on the other.

 

Enjoy,

 

Bill McDonald



#28 BRCoz

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 05:01 PM

Wish I was there sharing in the fun again.  


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#29 Skylook123

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:19 PM

Hi Jim,

 

If you find yourself at M51, try a short slew to NGC4565. It is a big edge-on spiral. Using the two, you get a really nice 3D like perspective of spiral galaxies. It would be even better if you have two setups side by side with M51 on one and NGC4565 on the other.

 

Enjoy,

 

Bill McDonald

Hi Bill,

 

I often do that in this season.  John Dobson was rumored to have called that one Berenice's Hairclip.



#30 Skylook123

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:21 PM

Always next year, Bruce!



#31 Skylook123

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:27 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY Three - A Very Nice Night

 

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, 80F at sunset, mid-50s when we left at 1:00 AM. Perfectly clear sky.  Winds under 4 MPH.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Transparency was again pretty clear, but with no wind to speak of, the seeing was very steady.  Zero scope jitter.

 

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

 

Not much was happening before sunset so I just enabled operation and let it alone. Supporting the night talk in the theater always delays operations at the scope until after 9 PM.

 

Another large group of volunteers was present so we started using our overflow space in the adjoining lot.  Not much foot traffic comes through up there, though on the return walk from Mather Point to the Main Visitor Center.

 

We were at capacity in the theater early and started the show at 7:50 PM.  Our speaker tonight was my counterpart in coordinating GCSP, Interpretive Ranger Rader Lane.  While pursuing his academic education, he took a lot of astronomy courses so he truly has earned the title Dark Ranger, being adept at discussing both the daythime environment of the Grand Canyon National Park and other National Parks as well, but he is at home in the night sky and for many years has spent much of his "off" time visiting and occasionally living at other National Parks and on a wide range of Native American reservations to embrace the broader cultural interpretation of the night sky by many cultures.

 

Tonight, Rader's presentation focused on the ethno- and archeo-astronomical cultues of the Pueblo peoples, the Hopi, the Navajo, and the Zuni.  One of the primary goals was not only to learn the historical use of the night sky in the local area, but investigate the WHY.  It was a tremendous opening of a magic box of knowledge of other cultures and and in-depth look at what roll the sky elements played in four unique cultures.  It was a dramatic trip through time and understanding of the key role the night sky and lore played in the daily lives of indiginous cultures very well told and presented, including the up-front announcement that while many of Rader's figures and photographs would be considered restricted to the peoples whose lives and history were presented, Rader identified that he had tribal elder permission to present the images and art in the interest of scientific exploration and education.

 

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.  Once again it was won by a young lady who was thrilled to start her path toward exploring her home universe.

 

I didn't get to the scope until about 9:30 PM as I was trying to help firm up the constellation tours.  Back at the scope I found from the beginning that the polar alignment was about 10 degrees off diagonally, and the Telrad was about three degrees off.  I could not, with the scope as it existed, fix what ever needed fixing and then I found out from the next imager over that the front leg had visibly slipped down, as had the east side leg.  After 20 minutes of trouble shooting, grandson Stephen and I started from ground zero, disassembled everything down to the tripod, and rebuilt.  It took until 10:45 PM until we were ready for show time, but by golly I was going to show SOME deep-sky object before we went home.  I did a full six star alignment, went to M57, The Ring, and there it was in gorgeous color.  I did a lot of steller evolution teaching to a frankly thrilled set of about 7 groups of 10 visitors each.  During a gap, I realized I did not like the color intentsity: too bold.  I adjusted the color gain on the monitor and went to M8, The Lagoon, and it was perfectly shaded, mostly the reddish emission portion but also a distant blue reflection zone on an edge.  The waterfall of new stars on one half was a great contrast to the thicker nebulosity awaiting its turn to become starlight.  By now it was nearly midnight but the visitors kept on coming, so I stayed there until the crowd had disappeared.  We did a quick take down of small pieces threw on the shroud, and headed out. 

 

At least 10 or 15 astronomers were still enjoying the warmer night when I pulled out at 1 AM.  Unfortunately, in about two days it looks like heavy clouds and the accompanying sporadiic rains of early monsoon are being predicted for the last three or four nights.



#32 Skylook123

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:03 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY Four - The Mount Behaves, Finally

 

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

 

Weather: Hotterst day of the year, low 90s F mid-day, 90F at sunset, low-50s when we left at midnight. Perfectly clear sky.  Winds ave picked back up, with gusts to 10 MPH.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Transparency is starting to show early monsoonal flow with an increase in night high altitude moisture.  The wind gusts returning is starting to impact the seeing, and again introducing a low lever of scope jitter.

 

Equipment:
10" Meade SCT on Celestron AVX mount

Mallincam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor.

 

I did the basic set up around 5:30 PM and waited for dark. Supporting the night talk in the theater always delays final setup operations at the scope until after 9 PM.

 

We started the night talk in the theater at about 8:00 PM.  Our topic tonight was the incredible SKYGLOW project, a teaming between two incredibly gifted videographers and communicators, Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan, and the International Darksky Association. 

 

Harun is a regular contributor to BBC Earth, and has contributed photographs and videos to Vogue Italia, National Geographic, Astronomy Magazine, BBC Travel, Discovery Science, Blindfold Magazine, The New York TImes, Wired, Time, Forbes, NPR, CNN, Gizmodo, Slate, Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Vice, and Washington Post.  his videos have been used at various events including Rolling Stones tour, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters 2016 Tour, Desert Trip Concert, Paul Simon's 2018 Farewell Tour, and National Park Service’s “100 Years” centennial video. His photograph of the cloud-inverted Grand Canyon was listed among the 2015 best travel photos of the year by National Geographic, and in 2016, he was on the BBC Earth Instagram team that won a Webby Award for “Best Photography and Graphics.”

 

Gavin is a filmmaker and screenwriter whose photography and timelapse work has been featured in many venues, including The Rolling Stones ZIP CODE tour & 2016 Desert Trip performances; the 2016 Roger Waters tour; and trance duo Cosmic Gate’s am2pm music video, which he co-directed with Mehmedinovic.  Gavin’s timelapses can also be seen on Virgin America flights; BBC Earth; Bravo’s first scripted show Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce; the LA 2024 Olympics Bid; the National Park Service “100 Years” centennial video; and numerous media outlets such as Time, National Geographic, CBS News, USA Today, and Wired.  Borrego Springs, California named the 2014 edition of their annual town festival after Heffernan’s Borrego Stardance astrotimelapse, and October 25th was subsequently named “Gavin Heffernan Day” in San Diego County.  As a screenwriter, Gavin and writing partner Adam Robitel co-wrote Bad Hat Harry’s psychological horror feature, The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), and helped rewrite Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) for Paramount Pictures. They are currently working on the upcoming Hong Kong sci-fi disaster film Imago for Cristal Pictures.

 

After a three-year journey of over 150,000 miles and 3,000,000 pictures taken,  Harun and Gavin introduced SKYGLOW; a hardcover photo book and timelapse video series exploring North America’s remaining magnificent night skies and the grave threat of light pollution to our fragile environment.  SKYGLOW explores the history and mythology of celestial observation, the proliferation of electrical outdoor lighting that spurred the rise of the phenomena known as "skyglow,” and the Dark Sky Movement that's fighting to reclaim the night skies.  These artists are spectacular communicators and held the audience spellbound as the explored the night skies over many of the National Parks, the issues of the loss of the night skies including the environmental and human health effects, and remediation opportunities we should be applying to our own lives.  Brilliant communicators, they are the most knowledgeable presenters of the need for dark skies yet two of  the easiest people with whom to communicate I have ever been privileged to meet.  Tonight was one of the most wonderful night talks I've experience, and we will have the benefit of experiencing the show again tonight.

 

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.  For the first time I can recall, it was won by a young boy this time!  Another astronomer is born.

 

Out at the telescope, things finally went well!  Polar alignment had held while it was stowed, but the Telrad had drifted for some reason; not much, but enough to make centering on an object impossible.  I was able to fix that, but found that the recovered stellar alignment was about 1/2 a degree offset.  I redid a six star alignment, and started with M57, The Ring.  Spectacular color as always, the 19" monitor image would pull visitors from 50 feet away to go Oh Wow.  I usually have less of a total visitor count at night because I can't resist doing the stellar evolution story of Sun sized stars, out with a whimper and sneeze, not a big supernova event.  I also point out the visible stars that are near the end of the stellar evolution indicated by their color at the orange-red end of the spectrum, and Antares giving us a lesson about the effects of the International Astronomical Union's bringing order out of the chaos of celestial naming.  By fixing the planet names as their Roman titles, we've lost the reference to the Greek name of the God of War, Ares.  Ares causes the strife and war, Antares is reddish orange because that's where the spirits of the soldiers who died bravely in battle now reside. 

 

After about 100 or so visitors, I switched over to M27, the Dumbbell planetary nebula, and it was spectacular in the monitor, filling about 2/3 of the vertical field.  Beautiful coloration, once again pulling in visitors and allowing the stellar evolution discussion.  I've begun carrying around an old rusted iron nail I'd found in a parking lot, so in by discussion of the eveloution based on the size of the star and the supernova effect, I pull out my rusted nail and call it my personal supernova remnant.  I throw in the iron in their hemoglobin, and the rocky surface of silicon on which they stand, the precursor to the iron generation from the final fusion step.  The groups seem impressed with the generation of the elements.  I don't have M1, The Crab Nebula available this season, to show off the heavy star end of life, so it becomes a narrative but still seems to work.

 

By then, the visitors were evaporated so we shut down and came back to the room.



#33 skyward_eyes

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 04:20 PM

Just arrived, looking forward to tonight regardless of weather.

#34 Markovich

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 10:55 AM

My family and I arrived at Grand Canyon around 8am for our first day of our vacation there and was pleasantly surprised to see the announcement about the star party! I wasn't aware of the star party while planning our trip, so this was a huge bonus.

 

We literally spent all day at Grand Canyon and only left for dinner to return for the party. I must say it was very well organized and the night sky was breathtaking, especially compared to my home skies of Ohio. 

 

We actually didn't get to look through many scopes as the crowd was large and lines were long for the scopes I really want to look through. But my kids have never seen truly dark skies, so the sight of the Milky Way was more than enough.

 

Next time, I need to drive out and bring my own scope!

 

 

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#35 skyward_eyes

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 01:31 PM

Good night last night besides the wind.

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#36 Skylook123

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 01:44 PM

Tremendous thanks, Mark and Kevin for the first images of this year.  Many more will show up, I hope!



#37 Skylook123

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 01:54 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

DAY Five - Weather Better Than Forecast

 

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

 

Weather: Still hot, low 90s F mid-day, 87F at sunset, low-50s when we left at midnight. Early monsoonal clouds are coming and going.  Winds now gusting to 15 MPH.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Transparency is starting to show early monsoonal flow with an increase in night high altitude moisture.  The wind gusts definitely are impacting the seeing, and scope jitter is increasing.

 

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

 

I followed the usual drill of setting up and waiting to go into the theater for the night talk.  It was great to have Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall, my former partner in GCSP as the previous Grand Canyon National Park GCSP Coordinator for eleven years and now Rangering on at Joshua Tree National Park in California, drop in to help for the last four nights.

 

The night talk in the theater was a repeat of last night's incredible SKYGLOW project highlights, a teaming between two incredibly gifted videographers and communicators, Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan, and the International Darksky Association.  I won't repeat the biographies here.  Check yesterday's report, or visit the SKYGLOW PROJECT web site for background information and many hours of additional production.  Just as last night, tonight was one of the most wonderful night talks I've experienced.

 

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.  We had a second great prize to award: Harun and Gavin donated a copy of their SKYGLOW book and the full DVD of the project.  What a great prize!

 

Out at the telescope, things finally went fairly well.  Polar alignment was a little off for some reason, fixed that, and immediately did a fresh alignment.  We don't get out of the theater until after 9 PM, so we're always behind in getting fully running, and I was asked to do the 10 PM constellation tour, but by 9:35 I had The Ring, M57, on the screen and let grandson Stephen do the show and tell on this gorgeous donut/bagel/Cheerio.  I ran over and gathered my hoard of night sky adventurers and we started our walk around the sky.  Mostly the same material but I augmented it with some very interesting information from Dean Regas's book "100 Things to See in the Night Sky", a copy of which he had given to me as he left on Tuesday after doing the Monday night talk and several constellation tours on Monday and Tuesday nights.  Back at the scope, I elbowed my way past Stephen and picked up the Planetary Nebula story. 

 

Just for variety, I later moved over to M27, the Dumbbell planetary nebula, and it was spectacular in the monitor, filling about 2/3 of the vertical field.  Beautiful coloration, once again pulling in visitors and allowing the stellar evolution discussion.  I've begun carrying around an old rusted iron nail I'd found in a parking lot, so in discussion of the evolution based on the size of the star and the supernova effect, I pull out my rusted nail and call it my personal supernova remnant.  I throw in the iron in their hemoglobin, and the rocky surface of silicon on which they stand, the precursor to the iron generation from the final fusion step.  The groups seem impressed with the generation of the elements. 

 

It is always very gratifying to see the looks of amazement on visitors' faces, first at the awesome color views of the planetaries on the screen, and then even stronger amazement to learn, in simple terms, the difference between the end of life of an "average" star and the helium flash and carbon-oxygen generation, and the comparison to the life cycle of larger stars, the final suicide with the creation of the iron core and resulting supernova, and then I pull out my old rusty iron nail and call it my personal supernova remnant.  I usually point out available red giants in the sky as part of the tale, and I know I've done OK when they leave the monitor and walk away constantly looking up for the next reddish tinted star that might bite the dust.

 

By then, the wind was picking up, making it feel colder than last night, visitors had evaporated so we shut down and came back to the room.



#38 Skylook123

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:40 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY Six - Much Needed Rain, But Not A Lot

 

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

 

Weather: A bit cooler in daytime with the pre-monsoonal clouds but about 90 minutes of rain showers mid-day. Upper 40s when we left at midnight. Some cloud lumps on both horizons, but pretty clear over all.  Winds now gusting to 20 MPH.

 

Seeing and Transparency: Transparency is showing early monsoonal flow with an increase in night high altitude moisture.  The wind gusts definitely are impacting the seeing, and scope jitter is increasing.

 

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

 

Around noon today the clearing skies reversed, displaying some puffy white cumulus but a lot of dark, large cloud bands and virga.  When the thunder started, I hurried up to the site.  Since we are a virtual high point for a large vicinity of the park, I thought that perhaps the fifteen or more scopes under weather covers would disipate the ground charge befor lightning would strike, but some of us have full metal tripod legs and to be safe, I took mine completely down and with forecasts showing heavy cloud cover ahead, I decided not to set back up.  Just as I got packed up, the rain stopped but it was sprinkling in zones all around us.  As I got to the lodge, the rain stopped but the thunder got worse!

 

We went back up to the site at the usual time, and doggone if the sky wasn't about 70% clear, and clearing.  Temperatures had dropped somewhat, and the gusts were back, but with the clearing I threw caution to the wind and began setup.  Finished the physical part before the night talk, then left a bit early to complete polar and stellar alignments.  Got done with polar but I was on the clock to do the 9PM constellation tour. 

 

In the theater we were privileged to hear the International Dark Sky Association's Director of Coservation Dr. John Barentine's wise light use presentation. Dr. Barentine came to IDA with a strong background as a professional astronomer, having done research at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico with the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-meter telescope and Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and research from solar physics to galaxy evolution, developing hardware for ground-based and aircraft-borne astronomy.  Throughout his career, he has been involved in education and outreach efforts to help increase the public understanding of science.  He is the author of two books on the history of astronomy, The Lost Constellations and Uncharted Constellations, and the asteroid (14505) Barentine is named in his honor.

Following John's guidance in taking back the night skies, once again we raffled off a Sky-Watcher donated Virtuoso 90mm Mak-Cass. number six, this time while I was out trying to get my scope ready for the show.  

 

The tour was a huge group, over 75 people, considering the cold and gusty conditions, and we went through my tales of the night sky, as usual taking a bit too long, and got back to the scope around 9:40 PM.

 

Stephen and I were able to complete the alignment after checking what seemed to be some anomalies in the appearance of the hardware, all OK, and finished out six star setup around 10:10 and made up for lost time.

 

We displayed only three objects for the next 90 minutes.  We started with the gorgeous M57 Ring Nebula, followed it with M27, the Dumbbell and it's massive size and coloration distinction from The Ring to show the effects of magnetic fields and line of sight difference between the two, and ended up on M22, the great globular cluster in Sagittarius at the top of the teapot.  Once again I hit the integration time pretty accurately for the conditions and was able to coax out some of the red giants in the big ball of diamonds.  The people were, as usual astounded, amazed, and grateful for the awesome views.  This time I had tw wheelchair bound visitors, making a live video set up of high value to the educational opportunity.  Great questions to characterize the end of life behavior of "average" size stars sneezing themselves out of existance compared to the larger mass supernova ends of stellar life.  I pulled out my rusty iron nail prop to show my "supernova remnant", and had a tremendous 90 minutes with about 120 total people, who were very interactive with their questioning and expressions of wonder and amazement.

 

It is always very gratifying to see the looks of amazement on visitors' faces, first at the awesome color views of the planetaries on the screen, and then even stronger amazement to learn, in simple terms, the difference between the end of life of an "average" star and the helium flash and carbon-oxygen generation, and the comparison to the life cycle of larger stars, the final suicide with the creation of the iron core and resulting supernova, and then I pull out my old rusty iron nail and call it my personal supernova remnant.  I usually point out available red giants in the sky as part of the tale, and I know I've done OK when they leave the monitor and walk away constantly looking up for the next reddish tinted star that might bite the dust. It is always amazing to me that here it is, after 10:30, cold and windy, and I'm in front of as many as 20 people at a time, some dressed in heavy winter coats, some wrapped in motel bed covers, and some STILL in T-shirts and shorts, eager to have their environmental awareness enhanced and still asking great questions about everything cosmological.  What an incredible mission we have.

 

By then, the wind was picking up, making it feel colder than last night, visitors had evaporated so we shut down and came back to the room.

 

Friday night, I'm giving the night talk on the objects they can see in the night sky at the scopes, with a one or two sentence introduction to most except about four slides on the genesis of stars and their life cycle.  I end with a video on Vimeo by the Itallian astrophotography group Astrocampania called Wonders of the Universe, a four minute series of incredible astrophotography to bring alive what my previous discourse was discussing.  Its background music is the theme from the Da Vinci Code, and is an emotional boost to the great imagery of the night sky wonders.  Night forecast is 100% overcast, so this may be the only look folks get at the night sky of the audience's Home Universe.



#39 Skylook123

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 01:26 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY Seven - No Rain, But Widespread Overcast Coverage

 

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

 

Weather: Sill cooler in daytime with the pre-monsoonal clouds. No rain, but a total cloud deck over the area. Low 80s as a high, but again upper 40s when we left at 11 PM. And, has been the case all week, gusty, frigid winds to complete the annoyance.

 

Seeing and Transparency: I didn't set up tonight with the obscurration.  At times the two day old moon, Venus, and Jupiter burned through hazily.  For about 45 minutes there was enough clearing to see the Big and Little Dippers, Polaris, Arcturus, and some other stellar artifacts, but by 10:15 PM or so, the sky, once again, was closing shop for our duration at the site.

 

Equipment (Available and set up, but unused):
10" Meade SCT on Celestron AVX mount
Mallincam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor.

 

We got to the site at the usual 5 PM social time, but there were only about eight scopes still set up and about 10 astronomers milling about.  I was tonight's speaker with my usual topic of What's to See, but may I should have been doing it based on meteorology instead of astronomy.  We had an unusual schedule set up, befitting the conditions.  After my talk, we would stay in the theater and Ranger Marker Marshall would do the 9 PM constellation tour indoors as a lesson in using a star map.  We'd skip the 9:30, and do the 10 PM tour outdoors as best we could, because we had moved Kevin Legore's astrophotography workshop indoors.

 

I really blundered in my talk with the timing.  I had expanded the section on the creation and evolution of stars, and it consumed way too much time.  Plus, we had started late, trying to get a suitable audience in place, and most importantly, we reprised an award presentation that we originally performed out at the popsicle gathering last Saturday.  Dean Ketelsen, who initiated the current form of the Grand Canyon Star Party with the first year in 1991, and coordinated the event for 19 years before handing the wonderful opportunity over to me for the last 9 years, presented me with our Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association Bok Special Service award.  This aware is after an astronomical giant. Dr. Bart Bok, who championed public outreach and education in astronomy.  It is an award rarely presented, is voted on by prior Bok award recipients, and Dean, a Bok Award recipient himself, presented the award to me and I was exceedingly grateful and humbled by the presentation.  I honestly still don't know how to let the honor sink in.  Those who know me will be stunned when I say I am still stunned and speachless thinking of the great honor, and the previous recipients' contributions to the field of astronomy and public service and education outreach.  I've been blessed, after 25 years of military service, to have received a lot of recognition for, as I called it, doing my job, but this is the highlight of my life of reaching out to people and arranging, with the incredible assistance of the National Park Service, a venue where we now open the home universe for thousands of people, day and night, every year.  This will always be an unforgettably rewarding, and somewhat emotional, event in my life.

 

Well, I yakked way to much about stars in my presentation, and ran about 10 minutes longer than I should have but fortunately we had a pretty dead night outside and by running longer that I should have (it is well known around home that clubs and other groups have no probelem getting me to drop in to talk, the problem is getting me to shut up), but the extension helped with the use of time later in the night as Ranger Marshall converted the 9 PM constellation tour into an indoor skymap class, followed by Kevin Legore's astrophotography workshop that was moved into the theater.  Meanwhile, I went outdoors and saw some of the thinning of the overcast that had occurred and was toying with setting up, but I noticed Marker standing over at the constellation tour sign announcing the 10 PM constellation tour, and by golly, we WOULD get one in.  I had been giving a bit of Native American discussion to group of four near my scope, so we wandered over to Marker and had between 10 and 15 people waiting for a sky walk.  We tag teamed an impromptu session as the sky was slamming shut on us.  Marker did her great teaching lesson in using a star chart and then went into the "Where We Are" tour segment to orient people in finding their way in the night sky, and as the sky was disappearing from us, I threw in some cultural lore.

 

By now it was about 10:20 or so, and I decided to take down the scope with overnight rain and lightning forecast.  If the weather clears tomorrow, I'll set up for one last night, or else have the packout done a bit early.  Tomorrow daytime will be the final social event, our campground pot luck to close out the week of fun and sharing.  Then, if the scope gets set up, so be it, or not, I'll just yak some more at some constellation tours.


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#40 thesungazer

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 09:35 AM

Many thanks to all who brought equipment out for this star party. I was lucky enough to attend on a clear night with my daughter. Wonderful dark skies at night with an iconic view of the canyon in the daytime.

 

It was something we will never forget!

 

Greg



#41 Skylook123

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 02:19 PM

2018 28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party

 

DAY Eight - No Rain, But More of the Same Overcast Coverage

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

 

Weather: Chilly and mostly overcast. No rain, but a total cloud deck over the area. Upper 70s as a high, mid 50s when I left at 11 PM. .

 

Seeing and Transparency: Again I didn't set up tonight with the obscuration.  If I hadn't taken the equipment down last night I might have tried observing, but I was too lazy to go through the whole process without much promise.  At times the three day old moon, Venus, and Jupiter tag teamed in burning through the multiple layers.  For about 30 minutes there was enough clearing to see the Big and Little Dippers, Polaris, Arcturus, but by 9:45 PM or so, the sky, once again, was closing shop for our duration at the site.

 

Equipment (Available but unused):
10" Meade SCT on Celestron AVX mount
MallinCam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor.

 

We had the traditional pot luck in Mather campground, but compared to prior years, volunteers have been leaving in droves as the last two nights have been challenging.  We were actually able to return eight of our complimentary campsites to the Park, and they were able to immediately rent them to non-astronomers.  The pot luck itself was a nice final social gathering to wrap up the week.  We had some great nights, but Mother Nature, she is a fickle lady

We got to the site at around 5:45 PM to get ready for the night talk, with a small group of volunteers milling around, letting optimism rule the day and believing the weather forecasts for late afternoon clearing. 

 

Once again, our terrific week unveiling our home universe to thousands of visitors is coming to an end. Over 100 volunteer astronomers have come from around the world to accomplish this task. The dedication of the Ranger staff and support from all the GCNP personnel, from the Superintendent on down through our coordinator, Ranger Rader Lane, on down to the Ranger Aids, makes this all possible.

 

Our speaker tonight was Kevin Schindler, historian at Lowell Observatory with the topic Fly Me to the Moon Through Northern Arizona, an overview of the training of the Apollo astronauts in geology and lunar operations in the area between the Grand Canyon, through Sunset Crater and Lowell Observatory and extending to Meteor Crater.

It was a great overview of the initial political motivation translated into the engineering and educational processes to make it happen. Full of anecdotal references and personal stories and actions of the astronauts and launch teams, it was quite a journey in time with an exposition of the realities of the era.  This year, Kevin added recent pictures of the exploration trails for the geology teaching as comparisons to the nearly 60 year old initial photographs.  He ended with a video from the era depicting the construction of a 1600 square meter of terrain exactly mimicking the planned Mare Tranquilitatis landing site.  We raffled off our final Sky-Watcher 90mm Mak-Cass telescope donation, and got to watch the initiation of another new astronomer.

 

With the weather so unfavorable, before sunset Kevin Legore, Jim and Vicki Palmer, and others from our Phoenix contingent set up several telescopes and Kevin's meteorite display (large lighted travel cases of various types of asteroid remnants as well as a number of loose samples), and Gary Fix, from Massachusetts set up his slide show of Italian cathedrals with astronomical elements and compass lines integrated in the original construction.  After the talk, around 9 PM, in lieu of a constellation tour, Ranger Marker Marshall again did her indoor skymap class. 

 

Meanwhile, I went outdoors and saw the sucker holes opening and closing rather than the predicted sunset western clearing.  There were about 8 or 10 telescopes set up, hopping around among Venus, the Moon, Jupiter, and some of the Big Dipper but unfortunately, the clear spots were on revolving axes and often just as a scope jumped on one, the clouds slammed the door.  Out front of the Visitor Center, facing South, there were moments of clear opening to Scorpius and Saturn, but it didn't last long.  George Barber, Dennis Young, Mike Magras, Debbie Clause, Bernie Sanders, and a few others out back tried chasing opportunities until, about 10:40 or so, a massive, very low altitude cloud layer raced in and shut the sky down.  Unfortunately, we were ending with a whimper, not a bang.

 

For me, although I was not set up, I was able to talk to several groups and exchange campfire-like stories of how other cultures would use these conditions and the importance of seeing some of the objects at opportune time, like lunar images, positioning of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, and how some cultures' traditions made education of younger generations mandatory, with or without a cooperative skies.  I think one of my highlights of the week was an elderly couple yesterday from Singapore who came up to me and thanked me for holding the event.  The day before had been very nice astronomically, and the older lady  said that under the bright lights of her home city she had only ever seen four stars in her life, before that night.  They delayed their departure a day to get another night under the stars, but, like tonight, the sky had other plans.

 

Time to pack tomorrow and head back to Tucson, and hope for next year.  It will be a very special year, so remember the dates: June 22 - June 29, 2019.  Grand Canyon National Park will likely become a full International Dark Sky Park (including North Rim, South Rim, and Phantom Ranch down on the Colorado River), it will be the 100th Anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park, and the year of the 50th anniversary of the first Lunar Landing, Apollo 11, for which the geological training took place in northern Arizona.

 

I am, as always, stunned at the spectacular efforts by the core group of rangers with Rader Lane leading the pack, my great friend Marker Marshall returning from Joshua Tree National Park to help out, Ty Korlovitz filling in for Rader when necessary, and a cast of half a dozen or more other Rangers and Ranger Aides.  Bless them all!  And our three returning grandchildren, Karina, Stephen, and Andrew, who were invaluable in supporting the Rangers, and Susan and me, all week.  Another year, another great experience.

 

Jim O'Connor
South Rim Coordinator
Grand Canyon Star Party
gcsp@tucsonastronomy.org



#42 Skylook123

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 02:25 PM

Many thanks to all who brought equipment out for this star party. I was lucky enough to attend on a clear night with my daughter. Wonderful dark skies at night with an iconic view of the canyon in the daytime.

 

It was something we will never forget!

 

Greg

Thanks, Greg.  Great commercial!  Come on back.


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#43 waso29

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Posted 19 June 2018 - 12:57 AM

I want to thank my observing buddy for inviting me to my 1st GCSP.

- incredibly dark transparent skies

- outreach with great folks around the world

- and of course, jaw dropping natural wonder

 

a few pics:

 

visitor center

 

vixen vc200 sxd

 

classy c8

 

wo fract

 

explore scientific dob [impressive jupiter views - besting the larger scopes early in evening]

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_1963 gcsp 2018 srim.JPG
  • IMG_1964 vc200 sxd gcsp 2018 srim.JPG
  • IMG_1966 c8 gcsp 2018 srim.JPG
  • IMG_1968 es dob gcsp 2018 srim.JPG
  • IMG_1969 wo gcsp srim.JPG

Edited by waso29, 19 June 2018 - 01:07 AM.

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#44 waso29

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Posted 19 June 2018 - 01:01 AM

more pics:

 volunteer docs

 

ap155 refractor

 

milky way shot taken by my buddy

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_1990 gcsp 2018 docs srim.JPG
  • IMG_1970 ap155 cgem gcsp 2018 srim.JPG
  • IMG_1971 mw crop taks gcsp 2018 srim.jpg

Edited by waso29, 19 June 2018 - 01:06 AM.

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#45 Pauls72

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 03:55 PM

North Rim Star Party. Limited to 10 scopes due to the small area on the veranda/porch of the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge.

 

nr0s.jpg nr1s.jpg nr2s.jpg nr3s.jpg


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#46 Pauls72

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 03:56 PM

nr4s.jpg nr5s.jpg



#47 Skylook123

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 06:07 PM

Great to see all the pictures.  Each Rim has it's own unique character, wonderful places both.  That extra 1000 feet elevation on the North Rim is closer to heaven!  On the South Rim, more visitors and space for more volunteers, a bit less of the intimate experience that happens right there on the North Rim while the South Rim can be a bit more of a street fair for telescopes.  Both venues are outstanding locations for introducing visitors to their home universe and raising environmental awareness..


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