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SGL6 - The Preview


Helen
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We're aiming to get the booking system for SGL6 up and running on Sunday :)

So, we thought it might be good to let you know a few more details of what we've got planned/what you can expect from SGL6 (especially if you are new to SGL and/or Starparties). The document below will form part of the booking process, so please have a read. If you've got any questions or suggestions just post them in this thread :)

I'll open another thread to discuss what talks/demos/workshops/tutorials might be useful :)

We'll make an announcement at the top of the Forum once the booking form is live.

Helen

SGL6 STAR PARTY:

Tuesday 29th March – Tuesday 5th April

(main days Thursday 31st March – Sunday 3rd April)

Lucksall Campsite, Mordiford, Hereford, HR1 4LP

Lucksall Caravan and Camping Park homepage

We want SGL6 to be a great weekend! We want it to be fun for everyone, whether new or experienced, young or old, observer, imager or space tourist, seasoned star-party attendee or first-timer!

It’s the chance to: meet fellow enthusiasts; talk and hopefully ‘do’ astronomy; get to know people; have fun; learn; see things you can’t see from home or with your own equipment; experience darker skies; try different kit; solve problems together; and take pictures.

Location

For those with GPS, you won't need this info but for the rest of us with GOTO here's the site's latitude and longitude: Lat 52:01:26 North, Long 02:37:50 West. Over this weekend it'll be 'astro' dark (where the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon and has no effect on the night sky) around 9.45pm and it'll get 'dark' around 7.45pm (BST).

Arrival

When you arrive at the campsite there is a sign saying ‘Please report to reception’, on this occasion you can ignore it! Instead, please follow the signs to the Rally Field and report to the Welcome Tent. The Welcome Tent will be your first point of contact for any information, issues etc over the weekend. We plan on having a rota so that at least one Moderator is available at most times (the only exception might be ‘The Twilight Zone’ if its clear when Mods will also be looking to get their equipment set up for the night.)

The campsite

Lucksall is a very good site and the owners are very friendly and accommodating of our needs. The only thing that has been a problem in the past is concern about speeding on site, and respecting of the one-way system. So please remember there’s a 5 mph speed limit on the site and the one-way system goes anticlockwise.

So how will SGL6 work?

SGL has reserved the rally fields at the site and will take bookings from members on behalf of the campsite for the nights of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, 29th March -4th April, although we expect the majority of attendees will come just for the (long) weekend.

The rates will be £12.50 per pitch per night, with an extra £2.50 if you want electricity. Meals can be booked until 17th March, pitches until 24 March or until all pitches are sold.

How are pitches allocated?

We’ll be allocating some pitches for administration and central functions, such as the Welcome Tent, Tea Tent, and tents for ‘talks’. The Rally Field has some hardstandings and the rest are on grass. While it is possible to camp on the hardstandings, most people will probably find camping on grass more comfortable! We anticipate that we’ll be close to capacity and therefore we will probably need those with caravans and campers to use the hardstandings. We’re asking for information on whether you’re in a tent or a caravan for this purpose. Within these constraints, it will be ‘first come, first served’ on the site. We’ll require you to report to the Welcome Tent on arrival, and you’ll be able to choose from available pitches then. We can log where you’re pitching so that everyone will be able to locate everyone else. We thought it might also be an idea to get you to log up what kit you’ve brought, so that anyone wanting a chat about pros/cons, wanting to see something in the flesh, or see the views through particular equipment knows where to come.

Where can I park?

Cars can be parked on your pitch (pitches are large). However, if you are arriving or leaving after dark, and it is a clear night, we would ask you to park close to the site entrance so that your headlights do not disturb the star gazing and imaging. (NB: Much more about light later!)

What facilities are available?

The site is level and has good facilities. There are three sets of toilets and showers. Those who came last year to SGL5 will be really pleased to know that an extra block has been built at the edge of the rally field - so much more convenient (sorry, couldn’t resist!!).

There is a small shop on the campsite and a Post Office and other shops in the nearby village of Mordiford. If you need a supermarket, there are plenty in Hereford - Morrisons, Sainsburys, Co-op, Tescos and Asda. The Asda store on the south side of Hereford City on the main Belmont Roundabout also has emergency medical and dental facilities available (although of course we hope no-one will need them!) Details are available here Asda Hereford Store - opening times & facilities and Herefordshire GP Access Centre - Your GP Surgery Website. Find out information about opening hours, appointments, prescriptions, health information and much more

What should I bring?

Bitter experience is that it will almost certainly be colder than you imagine. And this year is even earlier than previous years! So bring all the layers you think you’ll need - TWICE!

The clear view from previous years is that a small ‘festival’ tent is just not up to the job for Spring camping (just ask NickH!!). A double-skinned tent will retain heat much better (and keep out any rain better too).

Under your sleeping bag, you will also certainly need some form of insulation between you and your groundsheet eg a foam roll (ideally with a metallic insulation side), and an inflatable mattress, lilo or bed. Remember you’ll probably be going to bed cold and so extra layers and a heater and/or hot water bottle will help you to thaw out!

I’ve never camped before - will there be help available?

Yes. If you need help (whether it’s advice on kit preparation in advance, or with pitching your tent at the site itself), just ask! And if you’ve forgotten to bring something, ask too. Ask your neighbours, or come to the Welcome Tent.

If you are using electricity then you’ll need a special cable to safely connect to the site outlets. If you only need electricity for charging powerpacks then someone will be happy for you to use their supply.

Is catering available?

We have again arranged with a local pub, The Moon at Mordiford, to deliver meals at 5pm on Thursday and Friday and run a BBQ at 5pm on Saturday. Those who attended SGL5 will confirm the high quality (using local ingredients wherever possible), and great value for money, of the meals. The portion size is a standard food tray, so those with larger than average appetites may wish to order extra portions! You’ll need to book in advance though, through the booking form. As they require the confirmed booking 2 weeks in advance we’ll be closing meal booking on 17th March. Meal options for the Thursday and Friday are:

Scampi and chips £4

Sweet and sour pork with rice or chips £4

Chicken Curry with rice or chips £4

Beef or 5 Bean Chilli with rice or chips £4

Beef madras with rice or chips £4

Cod and Chips £5

Burger and chips £6

On Saturday there will be a BBQ (1 Burger, 1 sausage, 1 chicken piece, roll and salad) £6

We’ll issue you with the appropriate vouchers as part of your welcome pack.

We will also be providing a Tea Tent, which will include tea and coffee making facilities - and there will probably be a supply of homemade cakes available too (please bring some to share if you can). This will give a communal focus, and allows a warm in the middle of the night! You’ll need to bring your own mugs (although we will be selling rather snazzy SGL mugs!!!). We are also hiring a couple of marquees from the local scout troop to provide a covered area for communal use and for a few astro activities, so it is essential we keep these (and the Tea tent) clean and tidy. We therefore ask that everyone does their bit and takes care, using the bins provided for tea bags etc. If using late at night, please can you also be considerate about noise levels.

Where can I set up my scope?

Usually scopes are set up on individual pitches by the owner’s tent (although sometimes a group will set up together). You should ensure that there is enough room around your scope for you to operate, and potentially for others to come and see what you’re doing/have a look through your scope (if you’re comfortable allowing that). If you’re an imager you should also consider where to place your IT to ensure you don’t disturb any close by visual observers with your screen (which should be shielded/red screened).

You should take care over any trailing cables - the darkness, trailing cables, and fragile equipment can be a potentially dangerous and costly combination!

Equipment care

Scopes etc are the responsibility of owners and you should ensure that you have a level of insurance cover that you are happy with. SGL is not responsible for any damage however caused. Owners leave scopes unattended at their own risk, although the vast majority of people tend to set up at the start of a star party and pack up at the end, leaving their kit assembled throughout (and covered in case of rain etc when not in use). There are generally other stargazers around on our part of the site the whole time, and so security concerns are reduced.

Its part of the fun of a star party to wander around during the day admiring (drooling over!) other people’s kit and asking questions. You just need to take appropriate care as you will be responsible for any damage you may cause.

And if you bring children and/or pets please can you make sure they too are properly controlled to ensure no damage or ill-feeling.

Do I have to bring a scope?

Certainly not - you can stargaze any way you like! The great thing about communal events like SGL6 is the opportunity for sharing! You’ll find many people will be more than happy to let you have a look through their scope. It’s a great way to find out what you might like, both in terms of scopes and eyepieces (warning: this can prove expensive in the long run!!). It’s also a great way to learn.

Just one word of caution: don’t simply assume it’s OK to have a look or touch any equipment - please do ask the owner first. Avoid leaving fingerprints on any optics, and do remember to say ‘thank you’!

What about light?

The handling of light at a star party is something that is a bit different, and so we’ll go into some detail. This may appear pedantic, but it really can make a huge amount of difference to the viewing/imaging experience for everyone.

It takes the human eye at least 20-30 mins to become properly ‘dark adapted’ for stargazing. White light ruins that hard-won dark adaptation in an instant and also ruins images. This is therefore by far the easiest way to make yourself truly unpopular at a star party!

We will be working with the campsite, and the owners of the houses overlooking the site, to minimise the amount of light in our area (for instance, using blackout material in the shower block windows). The lights that really need to be there will be shielded red wherever practical.

You should ensure that you do the same wherever possible after dusk. If it’s clear at all, you should only use dim red light torches, as these do not significantly affect dark adaptation. And if you are using a laptop with your equipment, please shield the screen from others around you (a sheet of red film is ideal for this). Lights in tents should be similarly adapted, as they can shine through tent canvas walls.

A big potential problem for a star party on any campsite is car lights. So please take some time before you arrive to work out how you will handle this if bringing your car on site. Most cars have interior lights that come on when you open the door or the boot. If you can’t disable this, please shield the lights with red tape or similar. Similarly, if your car lights flash when you lock or unlock your car please ensure that either you don’t do this when others are viewing or else park your car away from the viewing area.

If you are arriving or leaving after dark please do not switch your lights on, otherwise park by the entrance to the park and walk to the rally field. Remember also that white reversing lights can’t be disabled, so always park facing forward.

Laser pointers

We will be operating a ‘no laser pointers’ rule, as they can be dangerous and can ruin night vision and photographs for others. The only exception will be if we decide to do an ‘SGL guided tour of the heavens’ at the start of an evening.

What about noise, music etc?

This is always a tricky one. Tents lack soundproofing! And so please be considerate particularly after 11pm and before 11am. If it’s cloudy, people might retire early - and if it’s clear many people will be sleeping in after a very late night! You might find ear plugs useful (there were a few cases of severe snoring at previous star parties!) And on music, one person’s music is another one’s irritating noise, so please keep it down. We would also like to minimize the disturbance for the few houses which are close – we’re asking them to be considerate about their use of light during the weekend and so we think its only fair that we reciprocate by keeping noise levels reasonable too.

Is alcohol allowed?

Yes. We just ask that you be considerate of others.

What happens during the daytime?

Aside from many people sleeping through the morning after a long night, there will be many options available. Some people explore the surrounding area, others are happy to stay on site and chat. We’re again looking to organise a few astro activities though, this time for Friday and Saturday. These will include:

solar viewing (sun permitting!);

a bring and buy stall where you can sell surplus kit, and spend your hard-earned money;

some talks and demonstrations (ranging from setting up an equatorial mount to detailed image processing);

some ‘clinics’ where you can get 1-1 advice;

And FLO are likely to have some goodies for inspection too!

We’ll announce more details closer to the event.

Is there anything else we should know?

This is an official SGL event and so we have to take account of insurance and Health and Safety issues. SGL and the campsite will have appropriate insurance but you will be responsible for your own equipment - such as loss and / or damage but also including injury to other members in the event of an accident. Although this sounds draconian, the rules can be pared down to ‘please be considerate, careful and apply common sense’! The moderator team will need to keep an eye on things and should they see a risk may ask you to modify your actions. Please take this in the spirit it is intended - which is simply to ensure a safe, fun experience for everyone.

We're really looking forward to a great Star Party where we can meet old friends and make new ones, and hopefully see some stars too!

The Admin and Mod Team

Edited by Helen
correct the end dates to match the end days!
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There are a couple of us looking to be there from the Wednesday, Kev, so that should be fine. We'll be looking to allocate a few central pitches for admin, marquees etc beforehand, so we'll post a map of available pitches a few days before.

Helen

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Although it's unlikely I would make this...I would so like to :)

I read through every part of that post and it has to be said...masterfully written *thumbs up* No stone left unturned and I now have a great idea of what I'm missing out on.

I so want to go!

Some people might want to remember to turn off their auto headlights. Imagine jumping into the car and switching on just the electricity to do something and your car full beams the party! That would be my personal nightmare :)

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Just been talking to my other half (the better one) about it and it seems she'd be happy to be rid of me! :)

Which is the rally field? The one on the river at the end/lower side with four sides?

Would people park/camp around the perimeter?

Could you book a pitch but also try and book a static for a nice nights sleep?

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Fantastic, I can't wait. This will be my first star party and I've never been camping. But I look forward to meeting so many of you here on this forum.:)

Man this is exciting:D

It is exciting but do take the advice about warm clothes and keeping warm to heart. Last years event was later in the year and the days were reasonably mild but at night, when I hit the sack at around 2:30 am, everything, scopes included, was covered in ice :)

Luckily I had a caravan and will have this year - I nearly froze to death in my daughters pup tent at SGL4 (well it felt like that :)).

Great fun though :o

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Just checked dates and it looks like my Daughter won't be off school. So we will most definitely be there from Friday.

However I need to ensure that our 7 tons of RV have a hard standing area. No good driving this onto grass it just does not work. So what is the best way to organise that?

Best regards

Chris

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