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A well attended star party

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 01:16 PM


Twice per year we hold a star party at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
near Superior, Arizona to thank the Arboretum for allowing us to use
their facility for one of our monthly star parties.

They invite their sponsors (that's how it's funded) and provide
dinner. We (EVAC – East Valley Astronomy Club) provide some
telescopes and a chance for people to look at the wonders of the
night sky.

Saturday night we had great weather. When I showed up a little
before 6:00, it was 97 degrees with about 5 % humidity. Set up the
scopes and wandered over for dinner, which was under the trees.

Went back to the scopes and the people started to wander over to the
area where we were set up. Howard Israel gave a short talk, and as
twilight set, started pointing out some naked eye objects in the sky
for the group. While the temperature was still in the 80s, it was a
very comfortable evening. By 10:00 when the Arboretum guests started
leaving, it was in the mid 70s.

I guess this would qualify as a fairly major star party. EVAC had
about 80 people show up with approximately 30 telescopes on the
field. The Arboretum provided 355 people to look through our

While Howard was still speaking (about 20 feet from his and my
scope), I got aligned and pointed at Jupiter. A few people stepped
over to look, and got very excited about what they were seeing. They
were looking through my Nexstar11, with a Denkmeier standard
binoviewer and a pair of 12mm Radians. I chose the Radians to handle
the mix of people with and without glasses, and the seeing was good
enough to support that magnification (about 270X). Many people asked
why they could only see 3 moons, when Howard had just told them that
Jupiter had 4 moons that they would be seeing. A moon was transiting
the planet. I hadn't looked before I left home, and hadn't brought
my PC or my IPAQ. So, after looking for a while, realizing it was
indeed a moon, and not a shadow, I guessed from the darkness of the
spot that it was Ganymede. So, we told everyone it was Ganymede
transiting the planet. I looked after I got back home, and it was
indeed Ganymede. Would have been a little embarrassed if I had told
all the people the wrong thing. One older gentleman asked about the
fourth moon after he had stepped away from the eyepieces. I told him
it was a little dark spot in the lower left of the planet and offered
him another look. He laughed and said little black spots wouldn't be
easy for him to detect as he had severe floaters. Got him back up to
the scope, and he indeed was able to pick out Ganymede in front of
Jupiter. Another tremendous benefit of binoviewers.

As Howard finished up, the interest grew, and I ended up with a very
steady line of people. I would estimate that about 125 people looked
at Jupiter through my scope and binoviewers. Finally, some of the
people in line realized that a lot of scopes were set up, and the
group started wandering the field, instead of standing in line at my
scope. We had people of all ages, including very young children.
Lots of them kept coming back throughout the evening, as most were
enjoying the two-eyed view a lot.

Once everyone who wanted to had seen Jupiter, I moved the scope
through mostly showpiece objects for the people to see. Changed over
to the 19mm Panoptics, as they seemed best for the mediocre seeing
conditions in the eastern part of the sky. I let lots of people look
at M13, M92, M82 and M51. I also had the scope trained on Albireo,
and Antares. Lots of interest from the group in the colors of the
stars, and I was explaining why almost constantly.

Later we showed people M4, M11, M17 and M57.

I loaned out my Denkmeier and 2" OCS for someone to try them out in a
Dob, and I switched to the Tele Vue Bino Vue. At that point, I had
the only failure of the night. A 5 year old girl said she only saw 2
of everything. (She had successfully merged Jupiter a little
earlier). I compressed the bino as far as it would go, without
success. One other thing to consider when you are choosing a
binoviewer. The Denk's minimum separation goes all the way down to
49mm, while all of the other ones have a minimum in the range of 55-
57mm. If you want to share the sky with children, the minimum
separation of the Denkmeier unit is an advantage.
Once a lot of the people left, we got to spend the rest of the night
doing what we wanted without having to entertain lots of people. My
wife had invited 2 close friends, and one of their mothers was in
town visiting. They all want to buy telescopes and binoviewers.

Peter Argenziano, who had borrowed the Denkmeier, actually had more
success with the Tele Vue after we traded back. His Astrosystems 13"
Dob has a filter slide right under the focuser, which prevented the
2" OCS from seating. The shorter Tele Vue 2X adapter did fit.

I packed up around 1:00 AM, with the temperature at 71 degrees.

All in all, a most entertaining evening. And, an opportunity to
share our passion for the night sky with a lot of very nice people.
A lot of thank yous for bringing out the scopes and sharing with
them. They were well coached in advance, as no one tried to do
anything but merge the binos and fine tune the focus. They all
waited for instruction in how to do that. Usually, the next several
people in line paid attention and were ready when they got up to the
scope. What more could we ask for?

Clear skies,

#2 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 01:44 PM

There is a second bino I would include as one that works with children. My 6 year old grandson has no problem with either the Denkmeier or the Black Night. I know you have not had a chance to see or use a Black Night, but it does work good with young ones. I've had over 12 or so children use them both with no problem. Thats not saying that there will not be a child that will not be able to use them sooner or later.


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