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McDonald Observatory Tonight - 30-DEC-2019

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#1 DeudeMann

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 12:26 PM

My family and I will be attending the McDonald Observatory Star Party tonight (Monday). Normally this would be on a Tuesday but I presume it was shifted to Monday since Tuesday is New Year's Eve. We are staying in Ft. Davis and we have already made an unguided day trip up to the observatory; it is a magnificent place.

I have an 8" SCT goto that I will be bringing with me. I have a focal reducer and a binoviewer with a few eyepiece pairs. I also have a small MCT that I am bringing as well, and a DSLR with a prime focus adapter for either scope. I have a prime wide angle lens for the DSLR as well and a very sturdy tripod for some short duration time exposures. I do not have a GEM or other polar mount.

It looks like I will be setting up my scopes away from the Star Party since I have not completed a background check, and this particular scope is new to me so I need some more learning time with it before turning it loose to others. My main goal is for my family to get a true dark-adapted look at a dark sky. I have been to one before but this will be new to them. The forecasted conditions are going to be very good this evening though I have made it clear to the family that everyone needs to dress very warmly. It's going to be cold.

McDonald clear sky chart.PNG

I have a few questions:

1. Is anyone here going to be there as well?
2. I have read up on the McDonald web site about what to expect. Any other tips?
3. Since this is an odd night I am wondering if there will still be several telescopes there for the family to look through. I am guessing most of them that will be in the star park belong to the Observatory and will be there no matter what. 
4. I do not have a dew heater with me but the weather forecast looks to be relatively dry so I am not worried too much about dewing, but should I be? I can cobble up something like a 12V hair dryer if need be.

5. Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance


Edited by DeudeMann, 30 December 2019 - 12:31 PM.


#2 earlyriser

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 12:34 PM

A passive dew shield has worked well for me on my C6 and C8, but I wouldn't risk using an SCT without some type of dew control. The front corrector plate is a dew magnet. Maybe someone from the southwest can chime in about using them in a dryer environment.


Edited by earlyriser, 30 December 2019 - 12:36 PM.


#3 DeudeMann

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:17 PM

I should be able to rig up a dew shield with a few basic supplies I can get my hands on. I'll do it just in case, no reason not to.



#4 Astroman007

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:26 PM

It looks like I will be setting up my scopes away from the Star Party since I have not completed a background check

What.



#5 DeudeMann

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:32 PM

What.

According to the McDonald star party information guests are not allowed to set up as part of the Star Party unless they have completed a background check. From the FAQ

"I have my own telescope, can I set up during the Star Party?

The Observatory welcomes volunteers. However, University policy requires volunteers to have a current background check on file with the Observatory before volunteering with the public. If you plan to be in our area and would like to volunteer either with your telescope or using one of ours, please email our volunteer coordinator to find out more about volunteering and the background check process. If, after the background check process, you do plan to set up your own telescope, understand that the public Star Parties frequently accommodate 300-500 attendees. If you would rather not have that many people around your expensive equipment, volunteering to use one of our telescopes is more than appreciated and welcome.

You are also welcome set up your telescope on non-Star Party nights and/or well away from the public telescope park facility. Do note that the Observatory is not a campground or park. If you’re observing, you’re welcome to be on-site. Please do not plan to over-night either with a camper/trailer, RV, or tent."



#6 Astroman007

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:36 PM

Wow. I'm surprised. Do you have to handle classified material or something? confused1.gif



#7 Codbear

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:38 PM

According to the McDonald star party information guests are not allowed to set up as part of the Star Party unless they have completed a background check. From the FAQ

"I have my own telescope, can I set up during the Star Party?

The Observatory welcomes volunteers. However, University policy requires volunteers to have a current background check on file with the Observatory before volunteering with the public. If you plan to be in our area and would like to volunteer either with your telescope or using one of ours, please email our volunteer coordinator to find out more about volunteering and the background check process. If, after the background check process, you do plan to set up your own telescope, understand that the public Star Parties frequently accommodate 300-500 attendees. If you would rather not have that many people around your expensive equipment, volunteering to use one of our telescopes is more than appreciated and welcome.

You are also welcome set up your telescope on non-Star Party nights and/or well away from the public telescope park facility. Do note that the Observatory is not a campground or park. If you’re observing, you’re welcome to be on-site. Please do not plan to over-night either with a camper/trailer, RV, or tent."

As horrible as it sounds, any refractor, reflector or SCT (especially with it's closed tube) would be a very effective way to

hide an explosive device and detonate it in a crowd. 


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#8 Astroman007

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:45 PM

As horrible as it sounds, any refractor, reflector or SCT (especially with it's closed tube) would be a very effective way to

hide an explosive device and detonate it in a crowd. 

Hadn't even thought of that. :(

 

Alright, I get it now.



#9 DeudeMann

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 02:11 PM

This background check requirement is becoming more common. I think the main concern may be to make sure that the children of the guests are not put in danger. For example at my daughter's school parents cannot volunteer to help with field trips and some other events unless they have passed a background check.

Also it may be blanket University of Texas policy regardless of the event and where it is being held, and not specific to the observatory. They don't want questionable, creepy people trying to hang out with the coeds.


Edited by DeudeMann, 30 December 2019 - 02:13 PM.


#10 earlyriser

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 08:52 AM

I'd love to hear how your evening went. Visiting McDonald Observatory is on my bucket list.




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