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Observing and star party at Bryce Canyon

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#1 Jeffmar



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Posted 14 June 2018 - 11:24 AM

Last night I went to a star party at Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. It is my second trip in 4 years for this event and it is really enjoyable. The skies were as dark as I have seen anywhere. At first I had a hard time finding reference points because of so many stars and I put in the wrong coordinates in my goto mount. Later on my star party neighbor said, "Why didn't you look up the coordinates on your cell phone?". Gee, I didn't think of that! The only two scopes I got to look through was my C11 and my neighbor's 180mm apo. My binoviewer almost made up the difference in contrast on Jupiter compared to that big apo and that refractor was sharp! The park rangers estimated up to a thousand visitors looking through 35 telescopes last night. I was so busy with people wanting to see what was on my scope I only got to three targets, Jupiter, M13, and Saturn. Early on seeing was pretty good but closer to midnight planets would alternate looking like rolling water balloons and being fairly detailed. At 8000 feet the temperature goes from 85 in the middle of the day to 45 at midnight. With the wind blowing it go pretty cold. At 12:30 I had already turned into a pumpkin and I was starting to lose my voice talking to so many observers so I packed it in. If you ever get a chance to get to Bryce Canyon during a star party it can be a great experience. Setting up my telescope with 30 other die hard astronomy nerds was a lot of fun.The scenery during the day is spectacular and the skies at night might be as good as you will ever see. The weather forecast calls for one more night of decent weather but the star party is schedules for 4 more night so here's hoping for clear skies!

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#2 Dynan



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Posted 14 June 2018 - 11:36 AM

"Go West young man!" ~ Horace Greeley


The star party sounds wonderful. I'm headed that way in July for a wandering astronomy trip...I'll see where I wind up.


I miss the West, having spent most of my life in Wyoming and frequenting Utah all the time. For astronomy the dark skies, high altitude, NO MOSQUITOES, few trees, wide open public lands...


Not missed: Brutal Winter & Relentless Wind

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#3 dusty99


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Posted 14 June 2018 - 12:36 PM

I hear you.  I was down by Capitol Reef over the last few days and the skies were dark!  Once it got black I almost lost Saturn in the Milky Way and nebulae.

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#4 rowdy388



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Posted 14 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

I was in a tour group that visited Bryce last year. We only had time to look out from the 

rim in a few places with no real exploring. It was so very beautiful. I would love to spend

more time there, including nighttime.

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#5 rockethead26


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Posted 14 June 2018 - 05:01 PM

I was up there camping last Wed and Thurs nights with my wife. At 3 am the Milky Way was astounding. My skies here in my backyard 3 miles from downtown Flagstaff are very, very good and I am spoiled, but it was good to be reminded of just how good sky conditions can be.


Oh, yeah, thanks for helping out at a public event!!!!

Edited by rockethead26, 14 June 2018 - 05:02 PM.

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#6 Jeffmar



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Posted 15 June 2018 - 07:52 PM

A little update

Bryce Canyon

Day two of the Bryce Canyon star party 


Last night we were back at it again, setting up our scopes and talking to a lot of people. The guy next to me had a five inch Meade ETX scope on a small tripod. Out of the back of his car he took the scope in one hand and the mount and tripod with the other hand and had his equipment mostly set up in 5 minutes. It took me about 25 minutes. Another guy with his wife pulled up with a ten foot trailer behind his pickup truck. He had a 16 inch Meade dob plus a smaller telescope and was still working after three hours getting his equipment set up. 


At 10:30 the first bus load of people showed up and I had a line by my scope for the next two hours. I started with Jupiter. Seeing was not great for a half hour so I switch to M15, then M5, and the last object was M51. The star clusters through a 38mm eyepiece looked really great through my C11 and I am pretty sure I had repeat business although it was hard to tell for sure in the dark. The last half hour I was at M51. It has been a few years since I even looked at the Whirlpool galaxy and I was trying too much magnification and my focus was lacking so it could have been better. Seeing still wasn't awesome so seeing detail on the galaxy was hit or miss. The park ranger in charge asked some of us to spend some time on Saturn because so many people had asked to see it the night before but clouds were blocking the planet for quite a while so I did not get there.


I had a long line of people continually so I never go a chance to look though any other scopes but that was okay with me. The forecast tonight is cloudy so two nights might have to be enough.

Edited by Jeffmar, 15 June 2018 - 08:10 PM.

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