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James River SP observing weekend Nov 1-3

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#1 The Ardent

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 03:16 PM

James River SP has agreed to host an observing weekend Nov 1-3 2019. This is probably the darkest site in Va east of the mountains. There will be a small fee (less than regular park camping)

Unfortunately this is only week after Staunton River SP. That’s what the park had open. If your can’t make SRSP this is a second chance for dark skies.

Park website
https://www.dcr.virg...rks/james-river

We will be using the entire amphitheater area for camping and observing. There will be limited electrical outlets but not on the field. There will be heated bathroom close. We can also use the regular campground showers. The visitors center has limited WiFi. Some cell phone plans have poor coverage at the park.
I have asked to park to let us use their bus as a warm room with electric heat.

I’m working on a plan for limited hot food and all night coffee. There are no stores or restaurants close by, so be prepared.

The general plan is below. Final details are still in the works.
Attendees are expected to comply with park rules and basic star party etiquette.
1. We will have astronomers set up and camping in the amphitheater area.
2. After sunset, the amphitheater road will be closed to car traffic
at the shelter.
3. Visitors can park at the shelter and leave during the night.
4. Astronomers who plan to leave during the night can park at the
shelter, or park on the road just past the shelter, car facing the
exit. Astronomers who want to engage the public will also use this
area. Public turnout has been limited in this remote area, but we get a few every time.
5. The field on the left will be for photographers. Anyone using this field is there for the night. Only to
drive away for emergency.
6. The loop and lower parking will be for general astronomers who are
staying the night. Only to drive away in case of emergency.

Stay tuned for updates and details.
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#2 petert913

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 04:06 PM

November ??   Oregon skies have all gone to winter gray by November.



#3 The Ardent

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 02:14 AM

Here is a map of the observing area. 

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#4 Charlie B

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 01:05 PM

I am attending SRSP, but I may drive down for the day on Nov 2.  Depends on how worn out I am and the weather.

 

Regards,

 

Charlie B



#5 The Ardent

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 11:56 PM

Here is some updated info from the park, hope this will answer any questions. 

 

"Fees and passes - We can collect the fees at the Visitor Center prior
to the event.  Folks can call (434) 933-8527 and we can accept credit
card payment over the phone. 

fee of $15/night or $25/two nights.  

 

Camping - Since this is not a defined camping area there will be a few
extra guidelines that must be followed by campers.  We will send these
to all registrants prior to Nov 1.  RVs or campers are allowed but
please let people know that it is a grassy area that can be uneven and
slippery if it rains or we have a heavy dew. 

 

Fires are not permitted unless in the designated fire ring located next to the shelter. 

 

All check out times and rules that apply to camping at James River will
apply to this event.

 

Electricity - There are electric outlets in the restrooms, at the
shelter, and at the stage.

 

Bathrooms / running water - There is a restroom at the site, as well
as a potable water standpipe next to the shelter.

 

Warming area - We are thinking about ideas for a warming area

 

Pets are permitted but must be kept on a 6 foot leash at all times.

Per Commonwealth of Virginia law, public consumption of alcohol is not allowed.

Astronomers who would like to engage the public are welcome to sign up

as volunteers for Virginia State Parks. "



#6 Charlie B

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 02:53 PM

I just returned from a day trip to James River State Park and was given a guided tour of the facilities and plans for the star party by Park Ranger L. Rann.  It looks to be a very good first start.  The observing area is relatively large and the imaging area is very close to the restrooms (an important consideration for an old man).  The power at the shelter likely can provide for hot coffee, cocoa etc. and possibly soup or chili for a cold night.  The plans are not yet set, but tarps around the shelter and a propane heater are being discussed.  While RVs are considered acceptable, I would not recommend anything but tents or maybe popups, not one like my 29 foot RV trailer.  For large RVs, rent a campsite and put a small tent on the observing field.  The imaging field is about twice the length shown in the drawing and actually extends almost to the road closed star in the image above.  The brush has been bush hogged and will be mowed short by Nov.

 

Although, this will be their first star party and likely small (Ranger Rann suggested that they may limit registration), it could grow into a favorite.

 

Best regards,

 

Charlie B


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#7 The Ardent

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 05:56 PM

Latest news from the park : 

 

 

Fee: As discussed in the previous email, the fee that we would be collecting would be $25 for a two-night or one-night primitive camping experience. This is a discounted rate from what a normal campsite would cost for two nights. Fees will be collected at the Contact Station when the guest arrives. That will save some headaches if we have to cancel the event for any reason. Check-ins will be from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Friday and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday.

Registration: We will handle the registration. They can call the Visitor Center Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm to register the phone number is 434-933-8517. We will allow up to 30 registrations. Registration would allow for one camping unit (tent only) and up to 6 people with that camping unit.

Public access: The pubic would be welcome to attend the event from 7 pm to 11 pm on Saturday. After 11 pm, it will be a registered event guest only. Anyone coming to the event for the day will be required to pay the parking fee. No other cost to attend the event.

Programming: During the public time, our staff will be on hand to present a program and have our telescopes our for viewing. We would like to encourage the event participates to allow the public access to their telescopes. If you have someone that is willing to do a talk or demonstration, that would be great.

Parking and camping locations: The best location for camping and sky observation would be down to the left of the amphitheater stage and visitor parking in the Shelter 4 parking area. This would prevent light pollution for the observers. The registered guest would be allowed to park their vehicles in the camping area/observation area.  During the public access time, we will line the route with glow sticks for the guest to find their way to the observation area. We can use our UTV to transport anyone that is handicap or needs assistance



#8 Hunter1010

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 09:11 PM

Anyone have a current head count for participants? New here but definitely considering attending. Had to pass on SRSP due to weather and schedule.

#9 1983cowboy

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 07:48 PM

My friends and I are giving this some consideration now too (unless it's already full)...

We have plans for this Thursday - Sunday at SRSP, but the forecast doesn't look great for those days right now. 



#10 The Ardent

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:21 PM

I may be able to go to each on Saturday only. 



#11 Hunter1010

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:27 PM

I’m still crossing my fingers. Keep checking the weather, as of now for Norwood no rain and few clouds from time to time.

#12 Hunter1010

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 08:40 AM

Just reserved my spot, weather is looking better and better 👍🏽

#13 The Ardent

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:09 PM

This weekend SRSP is rain/clouded out. Next weekend is 2nd chance before next new moon.



#14 oltimer1

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 09:09 AM

Geez...well I guess big things start small....30 registrations? only tents on the field? I use a 12' trailer with the mount/scope/camera rig within about 12' outside and image remotely from inside the trailer (read that as "warm")...that's the popular 12' (usually white) trailer that a lot of folks use now days. Mine is finished off inside as a 1 person camper with all the comforts...and pulled with a 4WD GMC SUV...At SRSP I park next to the trailer.

 

I was gonna drive up an recon the area Wednesday before hauling the trailer Friday...but scheduled to rain for 2 days prior to the star party and I'm 4 hours away. We'll see...really hunger for another SP in Virginia!

 

Stu B.



#15 oltimer1

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 09:14 AM

Oh...I ment to ask...are generators allowed during the day. I have the Honda 2KW "quiet" version mounted on the tongue of the trailer for recharging batteries after an "all nighter"? They do at SRSP...

 

Stu B.



#16 The Ardent

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 10:22 AM

Stu 

Call the park at 434-933-8517. It's a popular park for boaters and kayakers. I'm sure they can accommodate you. 



#17 The Ardent

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 09:54 AM

Because of the storms yesterday, electric and water may not be working. Please check before departure if you can. 



#18 The Ardent

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 02:35 PM

Driving to the star party this afternoon 

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#19 The Ardent

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 03:52 PM

Photo of the large lower observing field. This is closed to cars due to recent heavy rains. Everyone is in the imaging field, the highest point here. 

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#20 Charlie B

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 04:26 PM

Any reports?

 

Regards,

 

Charlie B



#21 The Ardent

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 04:49 PM

The day was sunny. The night was clear , cold, with heavy dew and frost like the rest of Virginia. The Milky Way stretched across the sky , especially after moon set.
The big dob guys observed and shared many views, The imaging guys made some new astrophotos and shared some live video. The outreach guys entertained the public for a few hours. The park set up a fire in the fire pit for warmth. I did a lot of sketching of open clusters in Cassiopeia until 2am when the frost started to nip the fingers.
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#22 The Ardent

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 12:44 PM

Someone (not me ) made a video

 https://m.youtube.co...eature=youtu.be




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