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Calhoun Stargaze Informal Starparty - October 2019

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#1 Larry Mc

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 09:23 AM

Calhoun StarGaze 2019 Announcement:

 

Come join regional Amateur Astronomers at the Calhoun County Dark Skies Park in West Virginia on Friday, October 25th thru Sunday, October 27th  2019 for an informal Starparty! (no programs or advance registration, just observing and you bring your own food and drinks)  A no frills weekend. Just dark skies and good folks!

Both the campground and upstairs Red Barn sleeping spaces will be available to participants on a first-come first-served basis. The park is generally hilly, and electrical outlets are few, so please come prepared for limited electric power. (battery charging will be available at the Red Barn).

The cost of the two night camping event is only $10 per night for observing on the hillside and sleeping in the Red Barn, or $20 a night for the campground.

The park is open the entire week, so please feel free to arrive sooner than Friday.  Pay onsite at the Red Barn upon arrival.
         
The nighttime skies at Calhoun are among the best east of the Mississippi. Regardless of season, the Milky-Way can easily be followed from one horizon to the next.

The sky from the Southwest thru Southeastern horizon is pitch dark, as you are looking straight towards the Appalachian Mountains, with little to no residential or commercial development. The park is located a little NW of the center of West Virginia, and sits on a ridge with an elevation of around 1,100-ft.
A small campground within the park provides seven campsites with water and electrical hookups at each site. 

Shower and restroom facilities are located in the Red Barn/Community Building. Additionally, the upstairs of the Red Barn is available for limited sleeping bag use.

Calhoun County Park recreational areas include hiking and bike trails, a number of playground areas, a basketball court, ball diamond, fishing ponds, and abundant natural wildlife to enjoy. There’s also a ‘Historical Village’ with many period vintage buildings from the 1800’s.
 

The park is still in the process of building out site facilities, with ongoing work planned over the summer at the new dedicated astronomical observing field. Hopefully, the new field will be opened in time for the October Stargaze, and may include electrical power hookups. More info will be posted later this summer.

 

We look forward to seeing you at Calhoun in the fall!

 

For more information, please visit the following:

https://calhouncountyparkwv.com/

http://groups.yahoo....oDarkSkiesPark/

http://www.stellar-j...calhounpark.htm


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#2 Chucky

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 06:09 PM

This is a fantastic opportunity to attend an observing event at a VERY, VERY low cost.  We've all read the threads about star party costs.....many star event costs perceived as being too high.  I highly recommend folks try Calhoun.  It's a great location, and extremely relaxing.


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#3 Muleskinner115

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 08:17 AM

Very nice Larry!  I will come for sure. This is a “Best Kept Secret Advertised Event”!!!!



#4 Nate B.

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 09:50 PM

Can't wait to come up again!  Thanks for keeping us posted Larry!



#5 Larry Mc

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 05:25 PM

hi all,

There was a question over on the Calhoun Yahoo group about being able to tent camp beside you telescope, and the answer is a definite YES!

Whether you want to setup on the ridge above the Red Barn, in the campground, or head over to one of the more remote fields, there's plenty of room!

 

Here's a Google Maps snippet showing the ridge area (yellow) where most amateurs currently like to setup. The Red Barn and campground is circled in red.

There's several ways to drive up onto the ridge, a loose gravel road (blue line), which is a bit steep to pull a small trailer up, or a more compacted gravel road (red line) with a gentler incline. (I've towed my teardrop camper both ways without issues but prefer the easier red marked path).

The two 'attempts' at black "X"'s indicate where the power outlets are located. There's a single 110v duplex outlet at the hilltop pavilion, and four 110v duplex outlets and a 30amp RV outlet. at the other location. The Park has plans to install more outlets over the summer.

 

The second image shows the location of the new dedicated astronomy observing field. It's currently open for use, but there's no power there.

That may change by the fall StarGaze event!!    dancey.gif

Attached Thumbnails

  • Calhoun Ridge.JPG
  • Calhoun Observing Areas.jpg

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#6 Larry Mc

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 05:35 PM

also, there's more "on-the-ground" photos of the park, Red Barn, and observing ridge over on my Calhoun webpage:  http://www.stellar-j...calhounpark.htm



#7 caheaton

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 08:09 PM

Great news, Larry.  I hope I can make it this year, but I have plans for Thursday night that might preclude me from being able to get away on Friday (though I'll try).  Also hope to make it up there sometime this summer (don't know when yet....).



#8 bobcat83

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:30 PM

Now that I live in the area, looking forward to this informal star party!

#9 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 10:20 AM

Are there any summer Calhoun star parties planned?

Tom and I attended Calhoun last year. It's a nice spot and pretty dang dark. Can people just camp anytime? I'd like to get in a july or august new moon trip.
Nick

Edited by 39.1N84.5W, 22 June 2019 - 10:23 AM.


#10 Larry Mc

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 03:08 PM

Hi Nick,
Yes, almost every new moon, there's folks camping on the ridge.
While the restroom/shower section of the red barn will be available to anyone camping, to access the rest of the barn, someone would have to rent it. If you can get a couple of other folks interested in renting it, that might be worthwhile. But you'll need to check with the park first. Https:/calhouncountyparkwv.com/

#11 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 07:52 PM

Awesome thank you!

#12 CygnusMax

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 12:49 PM

Looking forward to observing again at Calhoun this year.  Last year, our planned trip to Calhoun was thwarted by the leftover remnants of two hurricanes!  There was a brief period of decent weather here locally.  So my fellow stargazers and I spent a couple days of primitive camping/stargazing closer to home.  It allowed us to see at least a few photons.  Unfortunately our primitive observing site is not ideal for a longer stay.  It just made me miss Calhoun that much more!

 

It's only about a 3 hour drive from central Ohio where most of us are from.  Having access to a restroom and showers is extremely convenient and makes the trip worthwhile for us, along with some very dark skies.  They also do a very nice job of keeping the observing areas mowed.  Plus folks from the nearby community are very nice and friendly.  We're always happy to show them whatever is up in the sky. 

 

It's so peaceful and calm down there and it helps me to take my mind off of work life and the problems of the "big city."  My fellow astronerds always look forward to our trip to CCP!  If we could just find a way to divert these hurricanes away from WV............!

 

Can't wait to head back and live the good life again in WV, at least for a short time!

 

Clear Skies,

 

Mark



#13 buckyball

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:34 PM

Hello to all.  I'll be going over for the weekend and maybe a day or two early. 

 

JOhn Dennis


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#14 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 03:50 AM

John I sent you a message. :)

#15 comet57

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 08:44 PM

I look forward to another great October at Calhoun Park.

Frank



#16 wrvond

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:31 PM

Hello to all.  I'll be going over for the weekend and maybe a day or two early. 

 

JOhn Dennis

John,

I'm thinking I'll be there the 21st through the 27th.

Need to build a couple chairs and lots of heater strips beforehand though!

 

Warren



#17 andreww71

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 02:30 PM

My reply is actually for the thread started about observing at Calhoun this coming Labor Day weekend but since the owner of the thread has had to cancel I'm placing my comments here instead so that the latest information is accessible in one place for those planning on attending this October.

 

I just got back home from being there Wednesday and Thursday nights this week. I have only been to Calhoun once before in the summer to observe and that was one night in July a few years ago. The transparency was not as good as what I typically see from late September on. These past two nights however had excellent transparency though dew becomes a major factor as the night progresses. I turned in both nights between 1:30 - 2 only because the dew was ferocious and everything visible at that time would be there later in the season at an earlier time of night. The real treat was everything in Sagittarius and this is where I spent a lot of time. I'll post my observations in the deep sky forum.

 

I was not alone either night as two people from the Columbia, MD area were there as well. One was imaging and another was observing using a 24" commercial dobsonian. For both it was their first time at the park and they were impressed with the convenience of being able to pull into a site with electrical and make camp at a location other than Cherry Springs. The benefit of indoor plumbing and a shower was no less important. However, the electrical was not working Wednesday night and was diagnosed the next day as a faulty GFCI. The park staff fixed the receptacle so they had power Thursday night. It was a minor nuisance for them since each had a large battery and made it through the night without a problem.

 

I set up in the field shown in the post above as the one that is going to be the future astronomy field. Right now it's still just a field with no amenities. I'm totally self sufficient which is why I typically observe from there. The advantage of observing in this field is that headlights from cars pulling into the barn parking lot or campers coming in after dark looking to stay at a site with electrical are not an issue. I know a lot of people observe on the ridge at the entrance since there is both water and electricity there so dealing with headlights is not a problem for some.

 

This was my first multi-day astronomy trip that I have done in more than 20 years! The weather was fantastic and the park is just an incredible place to relax. During the day on Thursday I walked the 3.2 mile trail that loops around the park. The afternoon was spent planning the nights observing session in the shade with a comfortable breeze blowing.

 

I'm hoping this is the start of an enjoyable season of observing at Calhoun!

 

Andrew


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#18 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 02:32 PM

Did you not bring dew heaters?

#19 andreww71

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 02:53 PM

Did you not bring dew heaters?

I have dew heaters for my secondary mirror and findercope eye lens. I do not have an eyepiece heater and as a result I typically run into a problem after four or five hours. When observing, I always remove the eyepiece from the focuser when I'm taking notes or looking at charts and place it back into the foam lined case. This method only works for so long before the eyepiece eventually cools to the point where moisture condenses on it as soon as you place your eye up to it. Along with the the eyepieces, I find the paracorr lens element of the SIPS is also subject to dew and it typically succumbs before the eyepieces do. I then have to take it out and warm it up somehow. I'm actually okay with a five hour observing session as I typically run out of energy by 2 AM anyway.



#20 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 03:50 PM

The dew in West Virginia is beastly!

#21 wrvond

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 05:26 PM

The dew in West Virginia is beastly!

I don't typically have a problem with dew at my house (68 miles away). I'm not sure why Calhoun gets it so bad.


Edited by wrvond, 30 August 2019 - 05:27 PM.


#22 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 05:56 PM

Elevation?

#23 wrvond

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 10:05 PM

That be my guess.



#24 Larry Mc

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Posted 14 September 2019 - 01:42 PM

hi all,

Just a reminder, we're down to only six weeks before the informal stargaze at Calhoun!

Hopefully, it might finally dry out by then. I've spent more time under rain clouds than star clouds this year.

Finally got around to typing up a short trip to Calhoun from back in early May.  http://www.stellar-j...2019-May-CH.pdf

I'll be heading up to Cherry Springs starting next Saturday for the BFSP the following weekend. (spending a full week there to increase the odds of getting a clear night). Maybe I'll see some of you there, of if not, then down at Calhoun in October!



#25 wrvond

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 09:33 PM

I’m planning on setting up on the 21st, though that might get pushed to the 23rd.
Any other early birds?


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