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Golden State Star Party (GSSP July 11-15th, 2018)

astrophotography observatory observing star party outreach
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#1 audioaficionado

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 11:30 PM

GSSP is held at Frosty Acres Ranch near Adin in North Eastern California.

Wednesday July 11 through Sunday, July 15th, 2018 (4 nights)

 

http://goldenstatestarparty.org/

https://www.facebook...y-227209732566/


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#2 sgottlieb

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 12:26 AM

Have never missed a night.

 

Last year had 3 excellent nights with SQM readings between 21.7-21.8+



#3 WadeH237

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 10:05 AM

This is a fine star party.  My wife and I are already registered and looking forward to it!



#4 audioaficionado

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 11:49 AM

It's my favorite star party. Had to miss it last year due to health issues. Looking forward to this year.



#5 frito

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 09:26 PM

thinking i may have to come for my first time this year, was looking at camping options in that area for the summer and remembered GSSP is held up there duh! :)



#6 Solar Ken

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 01:54 AM

My wife and I are also registered. This will be our ninth year in a row. We never have to think twice about attending this star party, it's an "automatic" on our summer list. Hopefully daytimes temps will be under 100 this year!



#7 JMW

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 07:21 PM

Been going every year since 2008. We also plan to go to OSP again this year. I also hope for more modest daytime highs at GSSP. 



#8 ctcables

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 05:37 PM

This will be my first year at GSSP, Looking forward to it.

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#9 JMW

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 06:12 PM

I just made a deal to purchase an Arctic Fox 22G and will pick it up at the end of the month. This will be a major upgrade compared to my Highlander towed 5x8 cargo trailer. I bought a GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT double cab v8 gas truck to tow a full size trailer. I put a Leer camper shell on the back to secure all my astronomy gear in the truck bed. I installed a 180 watt solar panel a couple of weekend ago on the rack above the Leer cap. It will keep my portable astronomy batteries charged up independent of the trailer. It will also run an Engel DC freezer.

 

My 5x8 cargo trailer with insulation, fantastic fan, furnace, 240 watts solar, 1000 watt inverter and a pair of Trojan 6 volt T105 batteries will be put up for sale. I bought the trailer for about $2300 in 2009 and added a side door and opposite side window. The improvements probably cost more than the trailer at the time. Solar costs about 20% no days for the same wattage. It has been a great little trailer and could haul a lot of astronomy and camping gear to the star parties. I hope to sell it to another astronomer.

 

I will be spending May and June making my Arctic Fox 22G astronomy camping ready. Need to add red interior lights, solar, LiFEPO4 batteries and a 2000 watt inverter. We will also take it up to OSP in August so I will have plenty of time this summer to test it out. Looking forward to a lot of trips with it in the next decade plus.


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#10 JMW

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 07:13 PM

Today I removed all my gear and cleaned out my 5x8 cargo astronomy trailer and moved it to a parking spot on the side of my front street. I told my neighbor I just posted it on craigslist. After a 20 minute tour she bought it. I had it priced aggressively to make room for my Arctic Fox 22G. I am glad that a good neighbor friend was able to take ownership of it. She is short so she has no problem fully standing upright inside of the trailer. 


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#11 audioaficionado

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 05:50 PM

Congrats on the quick sale.

 

With my limited parking space, the best I can do is a cab over camper on a pickup truck. WadeH237 has a real nice camper that they can drive out from under and set it down on the ground. Would be excellent for family members who can't deal with climbing up steps.



#12 JMW

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 08:47 PM

If I bought a camper I would have had to tow my cargo trailer behind it to carry all my astronomy gear. I will keep the astro-gear in the bed of the truck and under a Leer camper shell. The 21 foot living area of the trailer will be more than 4 times more inside space than my 5x8 cargo trailer.


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#13 TL2101

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 09:33 PM

Excellent choice on the Arctic Fox 22G. I have been considering buying the NASH 17K also made by Northwood. Did you get the 2.5 Onan LP Generator to run the A/C? 



#14 audioaficionado

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 07:49 AM

If I had the acreage, I'd get a trailer for sure. Probably have ROR obs and various shop buildings too. :D



#15 WadeH237

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 09:23 AM

If I bought a camper I would have had to tow my cargo trailer behind it to carry all my astronomy gear.

That's exactly what I do.

 

When I put the camper on the truck, I have very little space inside the truck to carry astro gear.  The first year that we had the camper at GSSP, we rented a U-Haul trailer.  It worked out so well that we bought a 6x10 cargo trailer.

 

The truck with the camper and cargo trailer has turned out to be a great setup for star parties that are far from home, with just a few nights (which is GSSP for us).

 

Before getting the camper, we considered a small travel trailer.  I was in favor of this option since we also have a shell for the truck to carry cargo, but my wife didn't to tow anything.  She has several trips per year with her friends where she doesn't have any need to carry equipment.  With the camper, I can get everything set up and she just drives out and leaves the camper on the truck.

 

You are going to love having the trailer.  If your schedule permits, you will be looking for lots more star parties.


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#16 JMW

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 09:46 AM

No. I am going to use that side storage area for my power system. The LiFePO4 batteries will be under the rear dinette seat. The inverter, MPPT controllers, charger and all associated hardware will be accessible from the rear passenger side outside door storage area. I will have about 900 watts of solar between the trailer and truck and will run the air conditioner off the inverter. I will run a smaller EU2200i generator to a 60 amp Progressive Dynamics Lithium charger to make up the rest of the power needed for the air conditioner. The generator won't have to deal to the power surge from the A/C locked rotor amps and can run quieter and use less gas at about 1/2 to 1/3 load. I will keep the portable generator and a 5 gallon gas can in the bed of my truck under my Leer cap. 

 

My outside 30 amp power cord will be wired to the transfer switch on the inverter and the output of the inverter transfer switch will go to the 120 volt circuit breaker panel of the trailer. The 30 amp power cord will only be used if plugged in to a campground with power hookups, which would be rare. The Progressive Dynamics 60 amp charger will have it's own 15 amp power port on the side of the trailer. It will either plug into my generator or into a 20 amp outside wall plug at my house.

 

We picked the Arctic Fox 22G because it is well insulated, less than 24 feet ball to bumper, and has no slide. The short length will help when I am backing it into my park spot at my house and will also allow us to fit into smaller campsites at national parks. I avoided the slide because I think the slide creates a structural weakness in the aluminum welded sidewalls and can be a source of heat loss and future leaks or mechanical failures. With 2 people in the trailer we will have plenty of room with the dinette and couch.

 

My truck is setup that I can go out for one night with my astronomy gear and sleep in the back of the truck bed under the Leer cap for a few hours at the end of the night before driving home. I want to avoid being sleepy on the drive home after a very late night of observing. I have red/white switchable and dimming LED lighting inside the Leer cap.

 

We have will be doing a 3 night dark sky site trip in May for galaxies. We will be going to Oregon 11 nights for OSP and a few other places. It will be another great summer of astronomy.


Edited by JMW, 23 April 2018 - 01:07 PM.

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#17 jakecru

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 03:21 PM

I will be attending the Star Party on Friday and Saturday Night (July 13-14). This will be my third time, and I am looking forward to it! Will probably go to the Lava Tubes during the day again (avoiding the hot summer day is very nice bonus to going caving). 



#18 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 09:12 PM

How long does it take to get to the Lava Tubes from the ranch?   That's one place I haven't been yet.

 

Curtis



#19 audioaficionado

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 10:18 PM

Some of those lave tubes have ice in them year around. We used to camp in lave beds national monument when I was in the Boy Scouts of America. Very nice area and fantastic geology. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is also a really cool place to visit.


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#20 sgottlieb

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:37 PM

How long does it take to get to the Lava Tubes from the ranch?   That's one place I haven't been yet.

 

Curtis

Roughly an hour and half, I recall.  I've visited twice from the star party.

 

Another great (scenic) trip is over the Warner mountains, down towards Surprise Valley, then back 299 towards Alturas.



#21 JMW

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 11:27 PM

Picked up a quiet Honda EU2200 generator today in Carson City. I can now run air conditioning this summer at the star parties if the temps get too warm. I previously depended on person evaporative cooling to be able to nap in the afternoon heat.

 

I installed my Spartan 2200 watt pure sine wave inverter and the Arctic Fox 22G A/C breaker panel is now hooked up to the inverter transfer switch. Thursday I installed the four 100 amp-hour LiFePO4 batteries and all the high amperage wiring and components included the DC side of the inverter. I ended up using space behind our fold down coach that is part of our folding bed area for the four batteries. The other comments are all in the pass through storage area under the bed. I wanted the batteries inside to keep from dropping below 25 degrees when we are charging them. They are also much more secure inside verses on the trailer tongue. The BMS will protect the batteries when below 25 degrees but won't take a charge until they get warmer. I figure at 25 degrees inside I will be running the furnace to warm up the trailer.

 

It was too windy and sometimes wet today so I am waiting on better weather to install solar panels on the trailer roof. I tested using my trucks 180 watt solar panel and controller. I have a 4 awg 25 foot power cable using power pole connectors to link my truck's solar to my trailer. I was able to get a 147 watts on a intermittent cloudy day from the truck to my trailers batteries and it brought 14.5 volts to the battery bank. I have a 365 watt 24 volt panel and a pair of 180 watt 12 volt panels that will feed a pair of Victron Energy SmartSolar 30 amp MPPT controllers. I used different panel sizes to take advantage of 3 locations on the roof that won't be shadowed. I hope to get over 60 amps of solar power with all 3 controllers and 805 watts of panels on trailer and truck camper shell.


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#22 JS999R

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 10:26 PM

JMW, You sir are Mr. Electric! Pretty cool you can go to any remote location and not have to worry about power needs. 



#23 JMW

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 12:38 AM

I decided to take advantage of the prewired ZAMP 10 amp PWM controller that was wired to a 20 watt panel on the air conditioner. I installed a 160 watt panel on my luggage rack at the rear of the trailer. It is elevated enough to clear the bathroom fantastic fan. I now have 805 watts of solar on my 20 foot long roof and another 180 watts on the truck.

 

The solar may be a bit excessive for summer but it will be useful in the darker winter months when power is needed to run the furnace.

 

This trailer is our little retirement trailer that I hope we can get a lot of years out off. I have about 4-5 years more of full time work to pay off my home, truck and trailer to be debt free at retirement.

 

Hope we can have nice cloud and smoke free weather at the GSSP and OSP this summer. There has been a lot of rain over the last month. That may lead to a lot of grass fires as stuff finally dries out over the next month.


Edited by JMW, 28 May 2018 - 12:40 AM.


#24 ctcables

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 08:41 PM

As this will be my first time to GSSP and will not be arriving until late Wednesday or the afternoon on Thursday I am concerned about parking. I will have a 30' trailer and want to be in a good location.  Can someone please tell me if the North, South, East, or West of the field is best for setup. I will not be doing astrophotography but do want to be part of the larger scopes and will share the view from my scope to all that want to look. I have modified the drive so I think tracking will be good this year and want to work on some lists as well.  Anyway looking forward to meeting everyone and any heads up and the best place to park would be great.

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#25 WadeH237

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 09:02 PM

With your 30' trailer, you will probably be directed to the west side of the field with the other RVs.  They tend to use the RVs as a light block between the main parts of the star party and the valley.  They sometimes have some RV parking off to the southeast of the main area as well.  I will have our truck camper in the RV area in the west.  I do both imaging and visual and will have two 14" visual scopes set up; one of them a 14" dob and one of them a C14 on a GEM.  I'll have my imaging rig in a Kendrick tent out in the field to the west of where we're set up.  I often camp next to some other folks doing visual.  One of them usually brings 22" and 15" dobs, so you would fit right in.

 

There is an area that is usually just north of the hospitality tent where many large dobs will be set up.  I doubt that you'd be able to get your trailer near there, though.

 

Ultimately, the good news is that there really aren't and bad sites.  There is plenty of room and it is fairly level everywhere.  There are some towns and roads visible in the distance with lights that reach the site, but the sky is quite dark once you get 20 to 20 degrees above the horizon.


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