I am Doug Bullis, producer of the Astro. Soc. of So. Africa's Nightfall deep-sky journal. Covid has devastated one of this country's most popular income-bringing industries: safari parks, aka game ranches. These are former cattle and sheep ranches that joined their properties and stocked them with the "Big Five" (lions, elephants, rhinos, cape buffalo, and leopards), plus giraffes, and all those beautiful leaping deer-like impala and wildebeest you see on Nat Geo shows. Safari Parks are photo-only and have a large followings in European and N. American countries. Typically, retirees or young families come, stay a week, see the animals, hike, bike, and leave. They see S. Africa's resplendent skies on their way from dinner to their cabins, but nobody tells them what is actually up there. They go home never having seen 47 Tuc, the Tarantula Neb, Carina Neb, or Gamma Velorum at 60x through an eyepiece or anything else. When Covid came along the safari park industry was devastated: they still have the costs, but no income. Park owners are hungry for new ideas. The time is right for putting something on the ground.
I have recently begun pitching astrotourism as part of the Safari Park attractions. Safari Park owners are enthusiastic--but at present there is no product to deliver to them. The most promising idea is that a given park offers a "Big 5 of the African Sky" star-show once every week or two. The knowledgeable astronomer/presenter drives up to a circle of benches or hay bales before sunset, sets up an EAA-equipped scope, and after supper the guests troop out to see the show. The show is not looking through an eyepiece, but a large-sceen LCD monitor in the back of a delivery van or pickup bed, parked to face the attendees. The screen brightness is adjusted so people can look up at the object the astronomer is pointing out with a green laser, then down at the screen to see what it looks like at the equivalent of 40x to 120x.
Given such a setting and circumstance, how would you configure a setup from scope to LCD at the back of the van? What combination of scopes, mounts, EAA cameras, wiring, and battery power would you choose? This is a brand-new concept in S Africa that needs to be thought through carefully.
Thank you for your suggestions.
Edited by Nightfall S Africa, 25 July 2021 - 03:14 PM.