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Star parties, lights, protocol and options...

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22 replies to this topic

#1 PolyWogg

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:09 PM

I'm a monthly "star party" coordinator for our local astronomy group, and we set up in a darkened parking lot on the edge of town once a month in warm weather (May - October, sometimes April and November if we're desperate). Usually about 15-25 scopes, 100-300 public visitors wandering around during the night. Invariably, you hear a "clunk" when someone bangs into a tripod leg because they are not yet dark-adapted.

 

This happened to my scope on Saturday night, and while no damage done, of course I then had to do a complete re-alignment to get going again. So I was wondering what to do about having some sort of reflective tape, little red lights, something that would let people see where it is. I don't feel it's a big issue when I'm observing normally, just when lots of newbies are roaming around, and in those cases, we usually don't have many LP obsessives around (our area isn't dark enough for them generally). So I was wondering what people have to suggest to use?

 

- I have the Celestron vibration suppression pads under the legs, and they have a small orange semi-reflective ring, but not enough for anyone to really see.

- However, at the last star party, someone had those little glow bracelets/necklaces (i.e., crack and shake), and put three loops on the ground, one around each leg. A bit brighter than I would have expected but clearly did the trick. Anybody have experience with other astro people finding those TOO bright? Can I buy red ones?

- Solar tape would seem too bright to me, and most glow white.

 

Anyone have other suggestions?

 

Paul



#2 NinePlanets

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:25 PM

I wholeheartedly recommend glow-in-the-dark duct tape. just a little square inch at the bottom of each tripod leg or other protuberance can do wonders to enhance the enjoyment of all.



#3 wrvond

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:26 PM

Yes, you can get them in red.

Here’s 50 of them for less than 7 bucks:

https://smile.amazon...,aps,184&sr=8-7


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#4 Andynator

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:43 PM

I use these, they are not too bright and the beam directs down if you want it to:

Nite Ize Moonlit LED Micro Lantern, Mini Swivel Light with Clip, Red LED https://www.amazon.c...i_9ZYzDbVWTMN0B
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#5 dark sky newbie

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:44 PM

https://www.amazon.c...8G3U/ref=sr_1_3

https://www.amazon.c...5YV/ref=sr_1_58



#6 PolyWogg

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 08:48 AM

Thanks all! A couple seem a bit brighter than desirable though, but the rest seem fine...

 

Paul



#7 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:04 AM

Glow in the dark tape. Not nearly as intrusive as red lights.
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#8 Slartibartfast

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:49 AM

I have the same problem with my observing chair.  The legs stick out in the back and they are painted a very dark blue.  I found even myself tripping over them in the dark, even when dark adapted.  I was going to paint them white, or put white tape on them.  Nothing that emits light, but just something brighter-colored than the dark color that they currently are.  If that doesn't work, I may go with the glow-in-the-dark tape, just a couple of squares of it.

 

I was at a star party where someone had strings of orange-ish LED lights wrapped around their tripod legs.  These, IMO, were overkill and too bright.


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#9 Alan French

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:01 AM

Glow in the dark tape. 

 

The lights people use to mark their telescopes (and territory?) are invariably too bright. "Blinky" lights are even more annoying.

 

Clear skies, Alan


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#10 asterope62

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:17 AM

For public star parties with many people there, I would try blinking red LED lights on the legs of the tripod. I wouldn't use them at a regular club star party though.


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#11 wrvond

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 12:04 PM

I'm really liking the idea of the red bracelets making a circle on the ground around each of the legs. Think I might order some of those for my own use.


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#12 Pauls72

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 01:30 PM

I use glow in the dark bracelets, any color. Just put them around the feet of the tripod. Or on the tripod legs around the height adjusting bolts.

You can get them pretty cheap at Walmart, most Dollar stores, EBAY, etc...

 

I tried using glow in the dark paint on my tripods legs, but that didn't work too well. 


Edited by Pauls72, 29 August 2019 - 01:38 PM.

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#13 Alan French

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 03:12 PM

The glow in the dark tape and glow in the dark parachute cord we use will glow all night.

 

Clear skies, Alan


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#14 csrlice12

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 10:40 AM

On the other side of the issue....Went to the clubs dark site Wed nite....there were probably 30 or so people there.  Outside of myself there were only one or two doing visual, everyone else was doing AP of one sort or another.  If you think APrs hate light pollution, you're wrong....it was like a Christmas Tree out there...I actually packed up and found a spot down the road at an abandoned farm.  


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#15 DeanS

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 10:50 AM

Although not as bright as tape, glow in the dark rope works well for marking parameters around scopes.  Harbor freight sells it, 1/4" x 100' or so for just a couple bucks.  Also great to use with tent stakes and for awnings.


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#16 scottmm2012

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 12:58 PM

UV Paqlite, peel and stick buttons for your tripod legs (or any other hazard new moon nights).  UVO necklaces for outreach volunteers.


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#17 Jeff Struve

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 02:40 PM

At public events, I sometimes just dangle a little red flashlight under the accessory tray pointing toward the ground.


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#18 SamplingNature

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 04:51 AM

I picked up three small LED "wand" type lights at Walmart for $1 each. I'm going to attach one to the inside of each tripod leg with velcro strips.

#19 PolyWogg

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 01:13 PM

Wanted to follow up. I ended up ordering those mini bracelets off of Amazon, works out to about ten cents a bracelet (100 for $10 or so), and used them on Saturday night at the star party. There is virtually no ambient glow, they`re red, and they did a PERFECT job of showing off my tripod reach to people. Plus a bunch of other astro guys came by and said, "Hey....where did you get those?". Worked absolutely perfectly. 

​Funny exchange with one guy...I use Celestron Vibration suppression pads, and the bracelet is the EXACT same size as the supposed reflective orange circle on the pad. So one guy wanted to know what brand the pads were because he had the Celestron ones and they didn`t glow like mine were! He laughed pretty hard when I showed him they weren`t the pads, it was just on top.

 

Thanks everyone,

 

Paul


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#20 Binocosmos

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Posted 28 November 2019 - 11:04 PM

Sure, glow-in-the-dark tape is bright right after you've "charged" it with bright white light from a flashlight, but it fades and needs "re-charging" with bright light every 20 minutes or so. This is not practical and is bad etiquette during a star party when you are trying to preserve night vision by avoiding bright light.

 

The best solution I've found is the chemical light stick bracelets placed at the base of the tripod legs. They sit on top of my vibration dampening pads.  The other really great solution is something called EL wire, and EL tape. EL stands for electroluminescent. You can find it on Amazon.com.  EL wire is battery operated, comes in numerous colors (I use red), is not too bright (bright enough to be noticeable for safety, but not at all distracting), is versatile and conforms to many shapes, and I've received many compliments about how effective it is.


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#21 NearVision

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 06:03 PM

I'm in the glow tape crowd. I've got bands around the feet of the tripod and on the feet, steps, & handrail of the step ladder that I use for vertically challenged visitors.

I got a roll of tape similar to this several years ago and I've been handing out chunks every so often and need to order a new roll this spring for the next round of new equipment.

This is similar to what I use. https://www.amazon.c...&qid=1575500139

 

I find if I leave the tripod and ladder out in the sun for a few hours it stays visible well past the end of the session. It might be the type of tape I used but I haven't had any problems with it dieing too quickly.I also took a small piece of pipe insulation foam and wrapped some glow tape around the outside. It makes a great locator for the eyepiece so visitors know where to look.


Edited by NearVision, 04 December 2019 - 06:05 PM.


#22 Bob4BVM

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 03:55 PM

On the other side of the issue....Went to the clubs dark site Wed nite....there were probably 30 or so people there.  Outside of myself there were only one or two doing visual, everyone else was doing AP of one sort or another.  If you think APrs hate light pollution, you're wrong....it was like a Christmas Tree out there...I actually packed up and found a spot down the road at an abandoned farm.  

Why I quit group star parties...

Also why I keep my best dark-sky sites to myself :)



#23 Jeff Struve

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 04:07 PM

Why I quit group star parties...

Also why I keep my best dark-sky sites to myself smile.gif

Wow... don't they use computer tents and, and red screen covers? 

 

More of our issues are with EAA folks than AP'ers... although, we do self segment the field and keep like hobbiests together, so even the EAA folks are not that big of a problem.




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