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Skylook123

2017 Grand Canyon Star Party South Rim - Day 6

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DAY SIX - Wind Tips Over The Scope

Location: Grand Canyon Visitor Center, South Rim of Grand Canyon, AZ, about 340 miles north of home in Tucson, about 7000 ft. elevation

Weather: Sterted partly cloudy, but cleared out after sunset.  Still mid-90s daytime, but the nights are getting cooler.

Seeing and Transparency: As yesterday, The seeing is very stable and the transparency seems somewhat better than recent nights, but smoke and debris from the Boundary wildfire in Flagstaff and another large fire in Southern Utah are predicted to be trapped by a high temperature inversion beginning Friday.

Equipment:
90mm Orion ShortTube refractor on a Celestron AVX mount
Mallincam Xterminator video system on the 10", 19" QFX LCD monitor. 

Tonight the speaer was Dr. John Barentine, Program Manager at the International Dark Sky Association in Tucson, AZ.  We were privileged to hear Dr. Barentine's wise light use presentation, and, as every night raffled off Celestron First Scope.  Celestron again donated eight First Scopes for our week, thanks to my good friend for many years Kevin Legore, head of the Focus Astronomy outreach foundation and Celestron/Sky-Watcher USA employee.  Every night, a potential future Nobel Prize winner leaves with something to start their night sky exploration.

This afternoon a disaster occurred.  I had covered the socpe and tripod with the weather cover from my 18" Teeter truss dob.  I had pulled the cover down to the bottom of the tripod and it acted as a sail, catching the wind and tipping the mount over (a top heavy mount will rotate around any pair of leg tips as a pivot line with little force).  I should have stopped the cover at the spreader tray.  It went over and slammed the scope and mount into the pavement.  Although the damage seemed cosmetic, after re-assembly and checkout following the night talk, the internal focuser rod is disconnected or broken from the primary mirror, making the instrument unusable.  I swapped telescopes to my backup 90 mm refractor, making the rest of the night pretty simple.  I just used Regulus as an alignment star, and talked double stars and a lot of cultural night sky facts for the rest of the time.  Later on, I moved over to Mizar and continued the multi-star talk.  We had a lot of teaching to do the next day, so we quit early.

Once again, the visitors were great.  We also learned that last night we had over 1600 by the official counting on Wednesday, the largest we've ever physically counted. 

At the scope, We talked everything from zodiacal elements to star color meanings, multiple stars and clusters, and many cultural meanings of stars, clusters, and asterisms and it was a great time despite losing the 10".

We packed up at 11PM, ending a night of disappointment yet great public interaction.  It looks like the rest of the week will be wide field observing!

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Hope it's not too big a job to repair your scope, Jim. At least the mirror survived!

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21 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Hope it's not too big a job to repair your scope, Jim. At least the mirror survived!

Thank you for the good wishes.  With luck the shock dislocated the foucuser rod from the primary mirror.  We are leaving in several days for a 7 week journey of joining family in Ohio for five weeks of annual renewal and checking on 97 year old mother-in-law who is the last survivor of 17 siblings.  My wife has over 60 first cousins and the visits take so much time!  The return trip will include a visit to the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, where my wife and I will assist the park rangers in the eclipse operations for an estimated 2000 visitors.  This location is right on the centerline, little humanity usually living in the area, and one of the best experiences of the last 17 years in low possibility of cloud cover.  

We have not yet heard of the damage, but since we only need our 90mm refractor and 60mm Lunt solar scope, no rush for repairs if they are possible.  If not reasonable to repair, then perhaps it will become an anchor for a moderate boat.

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That's a big family, I thought my wife had a lot of relatives!

Sounds an amazing opportunity for the eclipse.

Let's hope it doesn't meet that ignominious fate!

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I was visiting the Grand Canyon on the 24th and could not believe it when I saw a 10" dob outside the visitor centre, I immediately began speaking to a lovely fellow astronomy named Dennis, while my girlfriend sat on the bench nearby for 45 minutes haha. 

I did not realize that the star party was on, how lucky was I! 

Returned the next evening, saw a lecture by Dean Regas and really enjoyed.  We then proceeded into the parking lot where about 48 scopes were waiting, huge dobs, refractors  etc I was like a kid in a candy store.

Living in the cesspit that is London, I could not believe what was above me! The stars were unbelievable, I could only recognize corona borealis and ursa major! The Milky was low, but incredibly bright with dark lanes clearly visible. If only I had my scope! 

Saw Jupiter, Saturn, Lagoon Nebula, M57, M51, M13 and more. Amazing night, thanks to anyone involved, my girlfriend was amazed by M13 and Saturn, her first time looking through a scope! 

Would do anything to have skies even remotely similar to those. 

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2 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

That's a big family, I thought my wife had a lot of relatives!

Sounds an amazing opportunity for the eclipse.

Let's hope it doesn't meet that ignominious fate!

Back in the 1970s, my mother-in-law's family started having an annual picnic, renting a park and pavilions for a Saturday in July or August.  The largest problem is getting a wide enough field of view to capture everyone for the picture.  One year, I recall over 275 made the picture but over 300 did not attend!  As far as my small family goes, IF they chose to talk it would be with bottles, generally across each other's forehead.  But the events are growing smaller as life takes its toll.  My mother-in-law is the last surviving sibling, and most of the cousins and other family have moved on.  Nowadays, we only get 60 or 80 to show up to the annual picnic.

In the National Park Service there is a core group of Interpretive Rangers who call themselves the Dark Rangers if they have an interest in astronomy and work with night programs for visitors.  I started working with one at a west coast National Park with a goal of getting every US National Park, Monument, Recreation, or Resource area along the eclipse path to have at least one astronomer familiar with public outreach to aid the rangers with the crush of people.   Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in northwest Nebraska, close to Wyoming, just happens to be on our route driving home from the picnic in Ohio, and on the way to visiting our grandchildren in Colorado Springs, so that's where we'll stop on the way home.

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21 hours ago, nitram100 said:

I was visiting the Grand Canyon on the 24th and could not believe it when I saw a 10" dob outside the visitor centre, I immediately began speaking to a lovely fellow astronomy named Dennis, while my girlfriend sat on the bench nearby for 45 minutes haha. 

I did not realize that the star party was on, how lucky was I! 

Returned the next evening, saw a lecture by Dean Regas and really enjoyed.  We then proceeded into the parking lot where about 48 scopes were waiting, huge dobs, refractors  etc I was like a kid in a candy store.

Living in the cesspit that is London, I could not believe what was above me! The stars were unbelievable, I could only recognize corona borealis and ursa major! The Milky was low, but incredibly bright with dark lanes clearly visible. If only I had my scope! 

Saw Jupiter, Saturn, Lagoon Nebula, M57, M51, M13 and more. Amazing night, thanks to anyone involved, my girlfriend was amazed by M13 and Saturn, her first time looking through a scope! 

Would do anything to have skies even remotely similar to those. 

Fantastic that you were able to make it.  This was actually not a great sky year; 60 miles east, near Flagstaff, was a tremendous wildfire for several weeks, and to the northeast, in Utah, was another one.  We had health warnings for the last three days because of a temperature inversion trapping the fire debris and causing breathing problems at our altitude of 7000 feet.  I had to use significantly longer integration times to even detect some objects due to the impaired transparency, but the seeing was the best I can ever recall.  In late April is the best of the night visibility.  Then the Milky Way casts shadows.  And usually we'll have over 60 telescopes on any night, but the volunteer astronomers seem to have been more focused on eclipse travel but we managed to get it done.

Dean Regas is the head of public outreach at Cincinnati Observatory.  Some folks might recall a television program on our Public Broadcasting System called The Star Hustler, which had to finally be renamed the Star Gazer.  PBS would use the five to ten minute show as a sign-off at the end of the evening.  The host, Jack Horkheimer, would be shown sitting on the rings of Saturn and talking about something for that week's sky.  Unfortunately, he passed away and was replaced by Dean Regas and another professional, while PBS has gone more to around the clock broadcasting with no sign off so it's difficult to catch the nightly show.  But Dean is great to work with, and I'll be visiting his observatory on our trip to Ohio.

Edited by Skylook123

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On 1.07.2017 г. at 20:43, Stub Mandrel said:

Hope it's not too big a job to repair your scope, Jim. At least the mirror survived!

I feel Neils thoughts reflect all ours. It has been dam hot here of late, up to about 110 10 days back and almost got there yesterday.

Alan

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17 hours ago, alan potts said:

I feel Neils thoughts reflect all ours. It has been dam hot here of late, up to about 110 10 days back and almost got there yesterday.

Alan

I'm on the 8 week road trip that will include the eclipse, and got a call a few days ago that the telescope is completely repaired; the focuser rod had popped out of its restraint on the primary mirror, and it will be waiting for me when I get back home.  Only $120 including a full cleaning!

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5 hours ago, Skylook123 said:

I'm on the 8 week road trip that will include the eclipse, and got a call a few days ago that the telescope is completely repaired; the focuser rod had popped out of its restraint on the primary mirror, and it will be waiting for me when I get back home.  Only $120 including a full cleaning!

Good to hear all is well, the eclipse will be quite something I am sure.

Alan

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